Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Critics deserve to take a dive

The wrestling experts were hooting and hollering again late last Wednesday and all day and night Thursday. And, of course, all but one or two hid behind nameless messages on voice mails here and there and creative screen names in a couple of the sport’s often pompous forums.
It wasn’t long after last Wednesday evening’s Pioneer Athletic Conference match between Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley was over when the analysts and antagonists were off and running from their mouths and computer keyboards.
Their observations and criticisms were squarely pinned on the mat official – his failure to whistle anyone (mostly Perkiomen Valley wrestlers) for stalling, and one particular call at 145 pounds that ended in Perkiomen Valley’s Jacob Beitler winning by disqualification over Spring-Ford’s previously unbeaten Ryan Kemmerer.
The wrestling wizards didn’t stop there, either. Oh no, some chastised Beitler for not getting up, others accused head coach Tim Walsh for advising Beitler not to get up and, well, blah-blah-blah…
First of all, wrestling officials are getting beat up more and more for making the wrong call at the right time or the right call at the wrong time. Now that doesn’t make much sense, does it? Well, neither does 95 percent of critics’ endless bashing. Yet there still doesn’t seem to be any long lines at the officials’ application window.
Personally, the rules that define stalling leave a lot to the imagination. Put 10 people in the same room to read them and you’re apt to get 5-10 different interpretations.
That’s why there may – I repeat, may – be the “inconsistency” in officiating that wrestling fans have often alluded to.
Let’s not try to kid anyone, though.
Officials, umpires and judges in all sports are going to be criticized until the stripes on their shirts fade away and their whistles don’t whistle anymore.
Wednesday night’s call against Kemmerer for dropping Beitler was the correct call. It was not intentional. Repeat, it was not intentional. Nonetheless, before or after a whistle a wrestler must have his opponent under control when bringing him to the mat. Kemmerer didn’t, Beitler hit his head on the mat and, after the two minutes of allotted injury time, the Perkiomen Valley trainer decided Beitler was unable to continue.
As reported earlier this season and again after the match, Beitler suffered a severe concussion during the preseason and missed nearly three weeks of wrestling before he was cleared to come back. And come back he did, as anyone would in any sport, even though one critic blamed Walsh for allowing him to wrestle again.
Excuse me? If a running back injures his knee but goes through painful rehabilitation to get back in the lineup, should the football coach refrain from putting him in the backfield for fear he’ll hurt that knee again?
If a pitcher is ailing from tendonitis, goes on the disabled list to rest his arm and finally gets clearance to return, should the manager refuse to put him back on the mound for fear he’ll end up ruining his career?
And how about the Flyers’ Simon Gagne, who suffered a concussion that kept him out of the lineup for quite some time. Did head coach John Stevens refuse to put him back on the ice for fear he’d get checked into the boards and suffer yet another concussion?
Athletes don’t quit, at least real athletes don’t, because of their commitment to the game they play, their passion to compete and their determination to win.
So if anyone took a dive, or deserved to take one, it was those who criticized Beitler, Walsh and the Perkiomen Valley wrestling program in general.
Beitler has been wrestling forever, and would’ve been in the practice room the day after he suffered a concussion if he was permitted to do so. Throughout his four years in the Vikings’ program, he’s been nothing less than a class act. The same can be said of Walsh, who didn’t utter a word to Beitler during the injury time.
Beitler didn’t get back up to finish his bout with Kemmerer because a very qualified athletic trainer determined he wasn’t ready to resume wrestling. He didn’t wrestle Saturday when Perkiomen Valley defeated Wissahickon, either.
Still, a few people criticized Beitler even more for being a bit lively after the Vikings clinched the match against Spring-Ford. That had nothing to do with the two minutes he was on his back on the mat under the supervision of a trainer thirtysome minutes earlier. And knowing it was the first time Perkiomen Valley had ever beaten Spring-Ford in wrestling as Beitler and everyone else on his side of the mat did, well, it would take a lot more than a bang to the head to keep anyone from enjoying that moment.
The bottom line is that it was an unfortunate incident … nothing more, nothing less.
And lost in all the experts’ hooting and hollering was how Kemmerer, the Spring-Ford coaching staff and its wrestlers, as well as Walsh and his team, acted during and after the incident – with class.

Wrestler of the Week honors go to Daniel Boone’s Tyler Swartz, who became the first Blazer to pin down 100 career wins in the history of the program. The 285-pound Swartz, 25-3 on the season, accepted a forfeit during last Wednesday’s decision of Exeter to reach the milestone.
Coach of the Week honors go to Spring-Ford’s Tim Seislove, who brought the Rams back from that disappointing loss against Perkiomen Valley on Wednesday to defeat Upper Perkiomen on Saturday to remain in the PAC-10 title chase.

The Hill School, under first-year head coach Jesse Young, had one of its strongest tournament showings in a long time after finishing in a tie for third place in last weekend’s Cadet Invitational at Valley Forge Military Academy.
Also making a quiet but noticeable showing was West-Mont Christian Academy. The Wings are coached by former Phoenixville High School and Baptist Bible College standout Jason Meister, who was a two-time PIAA medalist and four-time NCWA All-American, including a pair of national titles in 2000 and 2003.

Two of the area’s most talented individuals – Spring-Ford’s Ryan Kemmerer and Methacton’s Jonathan Hammond – are now in the same 140-pound weight class. Kemmerer (23-1, 118-24 career) has never met Hammond (26-2, 112-27), who dropped from 145 just over a week ago.
The 135-pound weight class could be a feature in itself when Pottstown hosts Spring-Ford on Feb. 6. The Trojans’ Eric Daniels (14-2) appears to be settled in at 135, where he’ll likely get the Rams’ Gareth Cooper (19-7).

Kemmerer, a junior, is tied for 42nd on the area’s career win list with his 118 victories. He is tied with with Boyertown graduate Mike Reish, whose father is an assistant on the Bears’ staff.
Pottstown senior Seth Ecker (116), coming off a huge week with wins over Boyertown’s Matt Malfaro and Kennett’s Kyle Bove, is tied for 46th with former Boyertown state champion and current Bloomsburg senior Mike Spaid.
Hammond (112) is in a five-way tie for 53rd place.
Owen J. Roberts’ Connor McCormick, with 98 career wins, is expected back in the lineup this week. The Wildcats host St. Pius X on Wednesday, then travel to the Bayard Rustin Tournament in West Chester on Saturday. Teammate Will Bentley has 87 career wins, one more than Spring-Ford’s Alan Gauger.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home