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Single-leg Attack Propels Marks to Next Level

            Facing elimination against an opponent who had pinned him twice previously, Gavin Marks decided to alter his offensive game plan. An early single-leg take down in a fifth-place match Saturday at the District 1 AAA Central Tournament propelled him

to victory at Spring-Ford High School.

            Marks, an Upper Perkiomen sophomore, smiled and displayed a small fist pump after pinning Boyertown's Noah Fisher at 120 pounds to qualify for this weekend's South East AAA Regional Tournament.

            "Gavin is soaring," Indians head coach Steve Adam said. "I'm really happy for him. Usually, he's so even keel." 

            Jared Kuhns (113 pounds) leads a quartet of Upper Perkiomen wrestlers to the regional tournament at Oxford High School, which begins Friday. The senior won a gold medal at the district tournament, while Jarek Svanson (132) captured his second consecutive silver medal. Marks and Zach Rozanski (138) each finished in fifth place. 

            Matt Martin (106) suffered a season-ending loss in the fifth-place bout. Senior D.J. McIlvaine (145) was also eliminated after going 1-2 at the tournament.

            "The guys moving on are excited and looking forward to the challenge," Adam said.

            Marks (12-9), who was pinned by Fisher in just 72 seconds the semifinal round, remained alive in the tournament with a 1:31 pin of Owen J. Roberts sophomore Jacob Dunleavy.

            Following a loss to Upper's Darby Meraj Khan in the consolation semifinals, amid a rematch with Fisher, Upper Perkiomen's coaching staff suggested a change in strategy for Marks. Rather than attack the Boyertown sophomore's upper body, they instructed him to go for a leg.

"I just kept telling myself not to lock up with him," Marks said.

            The ploy paid off early, as Marks registered an early takedown and maintained control. Fisher got to his feet before Marks posted another takedown late in the first period by attacking his opponent's upper body. He posted the fall five seconds into the second period.

            "I'm extremely excited to move on to regionals," said Marks, who missed a month after suffering a concussion on Jan. 6. "I think did very well. I kept my head in the game."

            Rozanski (25-10) rallied to qualify for this weekend's regional tournament despite a 14-3 semifinal loss to Penncrest's Brendon Stocku. According to Adam, Rozanski got caught in a five-point move early in the second period, was forced to "start swinging for fence," which led to the lopsided score.

            Rozanski rebounded from a consolation semifinal loss to post a 4-2 victory over Spring-Ford's Zach Needles to advance.  "Zach got his head right and controlled the whole match," the coach said. "I don't think he was ever in danger of not qualifying (for regionals)."

            Kuhns (26-1) continued his march to the state tournament with three straight victories over Pioneer Athletic Conference opponents. He opened with a 1:20 fall against P.J. Kakos, from Perkiomen Valley. Following a 13-7 semifinal victory over Owen J. Roberts sophomore David Forrest, the senior posted a 5-3 win over Methacton's Corey Morabito to collect his second consecutive gold medal. According to Adam, Kuhns continued to display a relentless style on the mat.

            "Jared's throttle was wide open," the coach said. He never slowed down. He wrestled very tough."

            Svanson (27-6) was ended up with the silver medal after losing to Kibwe McNair in the finals for the second straight weekend. McNair, a sophomore from Methacton, registered a pin late in the second period. Half of Svanson's losses this season have come to McNair, who Adam described as overpowering. 

            "We've got to find a way to change Jarek's style of wrestling that he relies more on technique that horsepower (against McNair)," the coach said.

            Svanson opened his tournament with a 3-0 decision over Gavin Hollingsworth, from Garnet Valley. He posted a 6-3 victory over Harriton's Roberto Lesser to advance to the final round.  "Jarek wrestled a real solid tournament," Adam said.

            Martin (7-5) saw his season come to an end after getting pinned in the first period of the fifth-place bout. The sophomore recovered from a quarterfinal loss to post a 5-2 victory over Springfield's Jake Methlie in the consolation round. However, he followed that with consecutive losses, including a fall to Phoenixville's Antonio Valenteen, who qualified for regionals.

            Martin, who missed significant time with a foot injury, put together a string of quality performances once he got healthy, according to Adam. "Matt came out of nowhere," the coach said. "The five guys who advanced were much bigger than him."

            In other news, assistant coach Kyle Kemmerer was inducted into the District 3 Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame on Friday in Hershey. Adam introduced Kemmerer, who captured a PIAA gold medal at 113 pounds in 2003 for Brandywine Heights. Adam was an assistant coach on that team.

            Adam was also named the Pioneer Athletic Conference's Coach of the Year at the district tournament.





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