PHOENIXVILLE — Barring any divine intervention, Rasheel Brown will not be around on Feb., 2, 2022 ... or the next time the calendar rolls over identical numbers for the day, month and year.
But for as long as he lives, Brown surely won’t forget 12-12-12.
Wednesday began with the Pottstown senior learning he was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and ended with him opening his final Pioneer Athletic Conference wrestling season with a first-period pin in the Trojans’ 42-24 decision over host Phoenixville.
Not a bad day at all.
“(The letter of acceptance) kind of got me pumped up for tonight,” the 152-pound Brown said after his fall, the third of a six-bout run that erased an early 6-0 deficit and put the Trojans well in front at 33-6. “I was actually debating whether to open (the envelope) before or after our match, but I opened it before.
“I really didn’t tell anyone. I did tell a few of my teammates, but I knew I had to get ready for my match. I had to put it aside and focus on my opponent.”
Brown, ranked fifth in his class at Pottstown with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, apparently had no trouble focusing on the task at hand. He got an early takedown on the Phantoms’ Henry Hancock, then got the slap at the 1:47 mark.
Just moments earlier, Patrick Bohn needed 77 seconds for a pin of his own at 145 pounds. After Brown was finished, Darien Hain, Sebastian Shiffler and Jordan Eckstrom went slappity, slap, slap — adding consecutive pins from 160 through 170 — and that created the 27-point bulge just one bout past the midway point.
After the Phantoms recovered with a pair of six-pointers, Pottstown’s Josh Slody put the outcome beyond the hosts’ reach with a 57-second pin a 285.
Not a bad day for Brown, and not a bad night for the Trojans’ entourage.
“Rasheel is just a fantastic young man,” said Brad Bechtel, whose PAC-10 debut was a memorable one in itself, too. “I’m absolutely proud of him. He’s definitely one of our leaders. He’s a senior with a great work ethic. He leads by example.
“But we came out of this with a lot of good things, like our underclassmen stepping up. We have some young guys showing they can hang with people. So we did see a lot of good things here, but also a lot of things to work on, too.”
“We have a lot of young guys,” added Brown, who owns a spotless 6-0 overall mark thus far. “But we also have a good core of older guys, too. We just try to motivate each other. We know we have a better team than we’ve had in the past, so we don’t want to waste the opportunity ... we want to make the best of it.”
Phoenixville, under second-year head coach Joe Youngblood, made the most of it at the outset when Mark Cermanski and Tom Hammaker posted 9-2 and 3-1 decisions, respectively, at 126 and 132. That was good for a 6-0 lead.
However, after Bryant Wise’s 5-1 decision at 138 and the ensuing flurry of five straight pins, the Phantoms’ lead vanquished, as did any hopes for a miracle comebacker.
“The pins obviously killed us,” said Youngblood, who was able to end the Trojans’ run when Jordan Valenteen pinned at 195 and Paul Hossler got six more on a disqualification at 220. “The matches we had to win we did, but the toss-up (bouts) were split, and we lost a few (bouts) we didn’t expect.
“We knew a lot of things had to go our way to beat Pottstown. Pins were our achilles heel last year, That is something we want to put to rest this year. We’re making strides.”
After Slody’s pin clinched the outcome and Logan Pennypacker worked a 3-0 shutout at 106, Phoenixville did close with a pair of decisions by Garret Serwatka (113) and Eddie McCarthy (120).
But that not only couldn’t offset the Trojans’ big lead, it couldn’t even spoil Brown’s day.
“We’re definitely happy with the win,” said Brown, who works part-time during the offseason at the Pottstown Library. “We have some minor issues to improve on, like not giving up the big points like we did in a couple of matches. But overall we did pretty well. Now we have to get back to practice and get ready for our next match.”
Pottstown’s scheduled match at Coatesville this Saturday has been postponed to Dec. 21. ... Youngblood heaped a lot of praise on a number of his wrestlers who didn’t necessarily come out on top, namely freshman Max Shepherd, who’s giving up nearly 20 pounds at 106; Hammaker, who moved up a bracket and filled in for the ill Tanner Steltz; Trey Romance, who gave the highly touted Wise a battle (5-1); and Valenteen, who didn’t waste any time with his pin. ... One of the more interested fans pacing the gym was Jamie Gill, who stepped down as the Trojans’ head coach this past summer after accepting a teaching position with a charter school in the Philadelphia area.