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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wrestling pinned down in parity

College football last fall, if you remember, was a collection of great teams, really good teams and a few not-so-good teams that, on occasion, played like pretty good teams and upset teams most felt they didn’t even belong on the field with. Get all that? Well, there are an awful lot of fans who feel those BCS people and their computers didn’t.
College wrestling has been like that this winter, although Iowa’s recent rumbles have stabilized the No. 1 portion of the rankings of late.
High school wrestling throughout Pennsylvania hasn’t been all that predictable this season, either, although injuries have pretty much cut Cumberland Valley’s power and charged up Northampton as the state’s elite team. But you could probably throw another 10 or so teams on the mats, match them up any which way you want three, four or five times and still get three, four or five different results
It’s been the same in District 1, especially in the Pioneer Athletic Conference – where, in no particular order, Owen J. Roberts beat Perkiomen Valley and lost to Spring-Ford and Boyertown; Boyertown beat Upper Perkiomen and Perkiomen Valley and lost to Spring-Ford; and Spring-Ford beat both Upper Perkiomen and Boyertown and lost to Perkiomen Valley.
Sounds like a word puzzle.
Boyertown (5-1) may seem to have an easier ride to the end of the regular-season schedule, and Spring-Ford (5-1) still has to deal with upstart Pottsgrove and Pottstown. Those three others – Owen J. Roberts, Perkiomen Valley and Upper Perkiomen – are just a notch in the loss column behind them, and never, at least not in the previous 21 years of the PAC-10, have there been five teams bunched within a loss of one another going into the final week of the season.
Just for the record, there’s never been such similar chaos around the district going into the last week or last week and a half of a season, either.
In the Bicentennial League, Bristol and Lower Moreland meet for the title Wednesday; in the Central League, Springfield-Delco has a one-match lead but three longtime rivals yet to deal with; in the Ches-Mont League, Downingtown West visits Downingtown East on Wednesday to settle the National Division affairs, and Great Valley still has to deal with Unionville next week for the American Division title; in the Del Val League, the lone remaining unbeatens – Academy Park and Sun Valley – meet Wednesday; and in Suburban One, only Council Rock South has a grip on any of the division titles because Quakertown has a one-match lead on Methacton but co-leader Plymouth-Whitemarsh looming on the schedule next week in the jumbled American Conference race, Pennridge visits Neshaminy on Wednesday to settle the National Conference issue.
Maybe more like the aforementioned college football and college wrestling. There may not be that great, great team, or the one that stands over and above the rest, but there sure are a lot of pretty good teams … and a number of other good teams who, depending on their health and match-ups, are capable of knocking off those pretty good, or even great, teams.
Yep, sure sounds like parity.

Wrestler of the Week honors go to Owen J. Roberts’ Connor McCormick, who came back from a 17-day layoff due to an illness and recorded his 99th and 100th career wins Saturday during the Octorara Invitational. McCormick is just the fifth Wildcat to reach the milestone.
Coach of the Week honors go to Spring-Ford’s Tim Seislove and Upper Perkiomen’s Tom Hontz. Seislove guided the Rams to a 32-28 victory over Boyertown and drew even with the Bears atop the Pioneer Athletic Conference standings. It was Seislove’s first win over the Bears in his nine years as the Rams’ head coach, and Spring-Ford’s first win over the Bears since a 48-25 victory back in 1997. Hontz led the Indians to a 34-11 upset of Springfield-Delco in the opening round of the District 1-AAA Team Duals.

Pottstown will be shooting for its third straight District 1-Class AA Team Duals title when it meets PAC-10 rival Phoenixville in the semifinals 1 p.m. Saturday in Strom Gymnasium. Head coach Eric Dusko and the Trojans already own a victory over John Tornetta and his Phantoms this season (50-21 on Jan. 12). If they duplicate the effort, they’ll face either Octorara or Springfield-Montco in the 4 p.m. final that determines who represents the district in the state tournament.
In the Class AAA quarterfinals – which get under way Friday night (6:00) – the upper-half of the bracket features two rematches from earlier in the year, while the bottom-half will showcase a pair of first-time meetings.
Up top, No. 1 Council Rock South takes on No. 8 Hatboro-Horsham. The Hawks defeated the Hatters, 55-15, on Jan. 19; and No. 12 Downingtown West lines up against No. 13 Upper Perkiomen, which pulled out a 36-33 decision over the Whippets back on Dec. 12.
The bottom of the bracket has No. 3 Quakertown taking on No. 6 Pennsbury, and No. 10 Pennridge facing off against No. 2 Council Rock North.
The top three teams in AAA qualify for state duals, with the winner earning a bye into the quarterfinals Friday afternoon, Feb. 8 in Hershey. The runner-up takes on the District 12 champion and the third-place finisher has the District 11 runner-up in next Tuesday’s opening round.
In Class AA, only the champion advances. Unlike the past three years, though, District 1’s champion will not earn a bye into the quarterfinals. This time it will open next Tuesday against the District 3 runner-up.
* * *
Daniel Boone, which has made significant strides the past two seasons under head coach Matt Palmer, was denied a spot in the District 3-AAA Duals after losing to Wilson in the opening round of the Berks County Team Tournament last weekend.
Palmer’s team won its second straight Berks Division II to qualify for the program’s fourth appearance in the county duals.
The Blazers will have four individuals with 25 or more victories when they head into the District 3-AAA Section 4 Tournament on Feb. 16. They are Eddie Lockowitz (103), Francis Healy (140), Josh Sheriff (189) and Tyler Swartz (285).

Methacton has already clinched its District 1-record 35th consecutive winning season, but the Warriors will have to wait until next year to pin down the school’s 500th victory. The total is at 497 with only two matches – Wissahickon and Plymouth-Whitemarsh – remaining on the regular-season schedule.
The impressive streak began in 1973-74 under then fifth-year coach Dennis Kellon, who would coach 14 of the 35 teams and go 169-47-2. The late Nelson Stratton coached 12 seasons and was 173-31-2; Chris Lloyd was 36-10 in three seasons; Tony Haley, currently an assistant, was 22-10 in two seasons; and current head coach Bill Moser is 50-22 in his fourth season.
In other words, since the streak began, Methacton has compiled a 450-120-4 record.

Spring-Ford’s Ryan Kemmerer continues to climb the area’s career win chart. The junior 140-pounder now alone in 36th place with his 120 wins and could go into the postseason with 123, which would tie him with Spring-Ford graduate Mike Moley and Upper Perkiomen’s Sam Walters. … Pottstown’s Seth Ecker (118), Methacton’s Jonathan Hammond (117), Daniel Boone’s Tyler Swartz (108) and McCormick (100) are the area’s only other active wrestlers on the chart. ... OJR’s Will Bentley (91), Daniel Boone’s Josh Sheriff (90) and Spring-Ford’s Alan Gauger (88) could reach the milestone in the postseason.
Underclassmen who will not reach the 100-win mark this season but are on pace to pass the milestone next season are OJR’s Nick Fuschino, St. Pius’ Bobby Burns, Upper Perkiomen’s Jared Bennett and Mike McStravick, and Boyertown’s Tim Feroe, all juniors, as well as Boyertown teammates Alex Pellicciotti and Matt Malfaro, both sophomores. Burns has a chance to erase Craig Owsiany’s school record of 90 wins and became the first Pius wrestler to reach 100 career victories.

The individual postseason grind doesn’t get under way for another three weeks. But when they unroll the mats at Great Valley High School on Feb. 16, it’ll mark the 30th and 25th anniversaries of two of the most memorable weekend whippings in the long history of District 1’s Section Four wrestling.
Back in 1978, Phoenixville – under head coach Lonny Moore – swept half of the 12 weight classes, getting gold medals from Joe Holland (98), Kurt Anderson (132), Steve McGovern (138), Joe Tornetta (145), Paul Bearden (155) and Joe Parry (185). McGovern would go on to finish fourth in the state.
In 1983, Downingtown – under head coach and former Pottstown standout Alray Johnson – swept half of the 12 individual weight classes, including the first five, after getting gold medals from Bruce Tharp (98), Mike Seese (105), Steve Caggiano (112), John Lucerne (119), Bill Gillespie (126) and John Browning (185). Three weeks later, Tharp, Gillespie and Browning would finish sixth, fifth and second, respectively, at states.

Ridley’s 130-pound Derek Sinclair last weekend became the first wrestler in the Green Raiders’ long history to reach 100 career victories. … The big match in District 11 last week saw Pennsylvania’s No. 1 ranked Northampton erase a 19-12 deficit by taking the final four bouts to defeat Easton, 28-19. Eight of the 14 bouts were decided by two points or less and another two were decided by three points. ... OJR’s Danny Mongold also finished third at 130 pounds during last weekend’s Rustin Rumble. The Mercury regrets the omission.
Don Seeley is The Mercury’s sports editor. His wrestling column appears every Tuesday in the Mercury throughout the PIAA Championships.


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