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, February 29, 2008

PAC-ing a punch

There is no denying the PAC packed a punch throughout the last four rounds (or years) of the AAA Southeast Regional Tournament. It may not have been a knockout punch, mind you, but 19 individual champions and 63 medalists overall delivered a little more than a jab at the rest of District 1’s wrestling establishment.This year, though, word has it that the PAC – the Pioneer Athletic Conference – doesn’t have quite the clout anymore, that its whack-and-wallop has been reduced to somewhat of a slap-and-smack.Well, the district’s best lightweights, middleweights, and heavyweights – 168 in all, including 23 from the Pioneer Athletic Conference camps – step onto the scales later this afternoon … and at 5:30 tonight, they’ll all come out swinging in the 58th round – or renewal – of the AAA Southeast Regional here at Council Rock South High School.Upper Perkiomen, the regional’s real bully with four straight team titles before surrendering last year’s championship because of an eligibility infraction, and Spring-Ford each bring six entries into the feature. Owen J. Roberts has four on the card, Boyertown and Pottsgrove each have three, and Perkiomen Valley has one.And for the sake of a fair fight, Methacton – which teams up with the Pioneer Athletic Conference next year – has three more strolling onto the mats.But with the exception of the Wildcats’ 112-pound Will Bentley, who has been on a tear in the postseason; the Rams’ 135-pound Ryan Kemmerer, who was golden a year ago; and the Warriors’ 140-pound Jonathan Hammond, who has won every one of his 23 bouts since the calendars were turned to celebrate the New Year, the rest of the entourage has that unknown, unsung, and unranked tag.At least that’s the consensus among the critics, who haven’t been too generous in handing out props to many wrestlers from the PAC-10 this winter.“I think we’re down a little (in talent) from previous years,” a PAC-10 coach said recently. “But we’re not out … not yet.”There’s no question most of this season’s knockout blows have been delivered by the host Golden Hawks and their neighboring rival Council Rock North, who finished one-two, respectively, in the District 1-AAA Duals earlier this month. Quakertown and Downingtown West have also thrown some noticeable roundhouses.Who withstands the flurry – who being those 25 entries from the PAC-10 and future-member Methacton – will be revealed tonight and Saturday.* * *Among area schools the past four years, Upper Perkiomen has had far and away the most regional champions (10) and medalists, or state qualifiers (27). Boyertown is next with five champions and 17 state qualifiers. Owen J. Roberts (two) and Spring-Ford (one) are the only others with at least one AAA regional champion, and have had six and seven state qualifiers, respectively.Perkiomen Valley had two regional champions four years ago, its only state qualifiers since. Pottsgrove hasn’t had a regional champion or state qualifier in 16 years, or since Chris Beasley was a gold medalist in 1992.Methacton, which had 10 regional champions and 23 state qualifers in the 1990s, has had just two regional champions and seven state qualifiers since 2000.
REMATCH TIMETonight’s opening round features a pair of interesting PAC-10 features. At 119 pounds, Pottsgrove freshman Zach Robinson (33-7) takes on Spring-Ford’s Tim Miller (27-13), and at 215, Pottsgrove’s Mike Noto (31-10) goes up against Spring-Ford’s Alex Kanakis (30-8). Robinson edged Miller, 7-6, back on Jan. 30. Noto – who won 16 straight matches before a loss in his section final to Pennridge’s Jon Hill – and Kanakis didn’t meet this year, but Kanakis did decision the Falcon senior, 8-2, last season. … If Owen J. Roberts’ Connor McCormick (28-7) gets the best of Upper Darby’s Tom Andresen (31-3) in their 140-pound preliminary, he’ll get Hammond (40-2) in the quarterfinals.
DEFENSE TIMEThere are four defending regional champions in the field tonight – Council Rock South’s Mark Rappo (43-0) at 103; Downingtown West’s Pat May (37-3) at 119; Pennsbury’s Josh Dziewa (41-0) at 130; and Kemmerer (33-1) at 135. The four are 154-4 this year with a combined 445-49 career mark.
HOT, HOT, HOTUpper Perkiomen has a few wrestlers on a roll. The 171-pound Nick Edmonson (35-5) has won 22 in a row; 285-pound Jared Bennett (38-4) has won 21 in a row, including 14 by pin; and 130-pound Michael McStravick (31-9) won 19 of 20 going into the postseason and has since lost only in the sectional and district finals. Teammate Hoyt Emmons (24-15), perhaps as big a postseason surprise as anyone, got here by winning 15 of his 16 bouts in January.Boyertown freshman Jeremy Minich (31-11) has won 16 in a row and 19 of his last 20 bouts at 103 pounds; sophomore Alex Pellicciotti (35-4) has swept 16 straight at 130: and the always entertaining Tim Feroe (33-9) has won 12 in a row, including nine by pin.OJR’s Bentley and 145-pound Nick Fuschino, both of whom pinned down district titles last week, have won 14 and 17 in a row, respectively.
HALL OF FAMERSSix men will be inducted into the District 1 Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame prior to Saturday night’s finals.The 2008 honorees are Steve Harner, former head coach at Norristown; Jeff Madden, former head coach at Wissahickon and current chairman of the district’s Steering Committee; Mike Pirozzola, a two-time state champion and four-time state medalist at Neshaminy; Roger Reina, a Strath Haven graduate who rebuilt the University of Pennsylvania’s program and guided the Quakers into the Division I spotlight; William Stecklein Sr., a longtime official who has worked in the Olympics; and Rod Stone, the former head coach at Central Bucks West and longtime member of the Steering Committee as well as the PIAA Board of Control.
LOOKING BACK65 YEARS AGO: Because of the nation’s gas rationing and other belt-tightening measures due to World War II, Haverford High School’s George Halas – nephew of the legendary Chicago Bears’ coach of the same name – was District 1’s only representative at the state tournament. But what a statement Halas made when he defeated defending state champion Steve DeAugustino, 3-2 in overtime, in the 120-pound semifinals. Halas’ bid for a state title fell short, though, after he dropped a 4-3 decision in the final to Waynesburg’s Jim Conklin (who became Pennsylvania’s first four-time state champion with an unbeaten 70-0-1 career record).55 YEARS AGO: Cheltenham’s John McHugh became the first District 1 wrestler to win three straight regional titles – a feat that would go unmatched until Downingtown’s Glenn Koser came up with his own hat trick (1980-82).25 YEARS AGO: Bensalem graduate Tom Scotton, who swept two section and district titles each, was the Owls’ first regional champion and placed third in the state in 1974, was inducted into Bucknell’s Hall of Fame. Scotton, a three-time East Coast Conference champion for the Bison before graduating in 1978, was unbeaten in dual meets (55-0-1) and set school records for career wins and career winning percentage (89-4-1). His four losses all occurred at the NCAA Championships.15 YEARS AGO: Four District 1 graduates helped Bloomsburg to its first Eastern Wrestling League championship in 12 years. Upper Perkiomen’s Brad Rozanski (126 pounds) and Truman’s Chad Bailey (150) were gold medalists and Bensalem’s Tyrone Howard (190) was a runner-up for the Huskies, who were coached by Pennsbury graduate Rogers Sanders. Several weeks later, Sanders resigned after 21 seasons in which he compiled a 250-104-8 career mark.
NOTESCouncl Rock North’s Oliver Hertzel (43-1), who in all likelihood will challenge Kemmerer for the title at 135 pounds, needs a win tonight to become Bucks County’s career win leader. Hertzel, a two-time section and district champion, goes into the regional tied with Council Rock South graduate Austin Carter with 154 wins each.*Don Seeley is the sports editor of The Mercury.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

OJR’s Fuschino wins first district gold

Nick Fuschino grew up getting beat up, on the wrestling mat that is, by his older brother. But there was no whining or whimpering, no running off and tattling to mom and dad.
“(Anthony) really helped me out,” Fuschino explained. “The problem was that he was a few years older and 40 pounds or so bigger than me. But he was a big influence on me.”
Anthony Fuschino did rather well for himself at Owen J. Roberts. He won Section Four and Southeast Regional titles, an eighth-place medal at states, and collected 89 career victories before graduating in 2005.
Five months after his cap-and-gown affair and official bye-bye to Bucktown, 14-year-old freshman Nick Fuschino strolled into the Wildcats’ practice room.
And today, though just a junior, he’s no longer known among the OJR faithful as the other Fuschino … or the little brother.
Winning will do that, and Fuschino is doing a lot of it of late.
Last Saturday night, during the 145-pound final of the District 1-AAA Central Tournament at Spring-Ford High School, Fuschino recovered from an early 2-0 deficit with a takedown and added a second-period reversal for all the points he needed in a 5-4 decision of Penncrest’s highly touted Jim Resnick. That was good enough for the gold medal – a district title – the one that eluded his older brother.
“I always felt like I was wrestling to fill (Anthony’s) shoes,” Fuschino said. “He always seemed like he was one step above me, so I figured I had big shoes to fill.
“There have always been those expectations. They came from a lot of people, but mostly from me. I’ve always wanted to out-do (Anthony). The great thing about it, though, is that he understands how competitive it is, and he’s always one of the first to congratulate me. He wants me to do well.”
Nick Fuschino is doing quite well.
He dominated his bracket at the Dallastown and Rustin tournaments earlier this season, placed third at the Keystone Games Invitational, and settled for fifth in the very tough Escape the Rock Classic at Council Rock South.
Fuschino (37-3) would like nothing more than to extend his personal winning streak, too. It began on Jan. 5 – when he humbled Absegami (N.J.) senior Dave Foulke in the consolation finals of the Escape the Rock – and is now at 17 in a row, with eight pins and three technical falls among the count.
The last three, of course, came during last Saturday’s district showdown. He needed just over two minutes to pin Oxford’s Cody Combs, was oh-so-workmanlike throughout a 5-1 decision of Downingtown West’s Chris Uhler, then proved he could go with one of the district’s other promising underclassmen in Resnick (31-3).
“I knew (Resnick) was supposed to beat me, or at least that’s what I heard,” Fuschino said. “But I felt I had something to prove, and I had the confidence to do it.
“Even when I fell behind (2-0), I felt I had the stamina. I figured if I could push him for six minutes he wouldn’t be able to hang with me. And in the end I felt I wore him down.”
For good reason, too.
A district gold medal is something his older brother hadn’t won, and something he himself wasn’t quite able to pin down last year.
“I was second here last year,” Fuschino recalled. “I didn’t want to settle for the same thing this year. I wanted to take first.”
Fuschino’s effort, combined with teammate Will Bentley’s at 112, gave Owen J. Roberts a pair of district champions in one season for just the fourth time. The first occurred in 1968 with Keith Nyman and Ted Madden, then equaled in 2004 with Dan Hoffman and Bill Kropp and again in 2005 with Jeremy Stierly and Robert Hoffman. … Fuschino now has 87 career wins, two less than his older brother. … Connor McCormick, who has severely hampered by a leg injury in recent weeks, was quite inspiring in his third-place finish. He sandwich a pair of 5-2 decisions and pin around a semifinal injury default to the very physical Steve Hess of Rustin. … The Wildcats suffered a major setback when 285-pound junior Randy Keehn suffered a broken ankle just 11 seconds into his consolation bout with Coatesville’s Zakk Barker.

Boyertown’s run of three straight years with four district champions ended Saturday night. The Bears only had three finalists, but all three – Jeremy Minich (103), Alex Pellicciotti (130) and Tim Feroe (152) – did win. … Teammate Matt Malfaro (112), a state qualifier a year ago, settled for fifth after dropping disheartening back-to-back 2-1 decisions to Lower Merion’s Marcus Neafsey and Unionville’s Chris Carney. … Perhaps the big surprise for Boyertown was senior Tommy MacNamara, unquestionably one of the area’s most improved wrestlers from a year ago, who was fifth at 171.
Boyertown’s 15 district champions in the last four years is the area’s second-best mark behind Upper Perkiomen’s incredible 22.

The area programs’ updated (and corrected) overall count of Class AAA district champions has Upper Perkiomen on top with 29, followed by Methacton (26), Boyertown and Spring-Ford (25 each), Phoenixville (21), Owen J. Roberts (19), Pottstown (17) and Perkiomen Valley (3).
The area programs’ updated (and corrected) overall count of Class AA district champions has Pottstown on top with 44, followed by St. Pius X (23), Perkiomen Valley (19), Pottsgrove (18), Phoenixville (14), and Upper Perkiomen (1).
* * *
Upper Perkiomen has had at least one Class AAA district champion for nine years in a row now, while the next longest such streaks belong to Boyertown (six) and Owen J. Roberts (five).
St. Pius X has had at least one Class AA district champion for 10 years in a row, while Phoenixville and Pottstown have each had one or more for four straight years.

Phoenixville, Pottstown and St. Pius X combined to go 58-42 in bouts, winning eight finals and finishing second in four others, during last weekend’s District 1-AA Tournament. The 12 advance to this Friday’s opening round of the AA Southeast Regional at Wilson (West Lawn).
The Trojans’ Seth Ecker won his school-record fourth straight district title and will attempt to become just the second area wrestler – joining former Pottstown standout Joey Allen (1991-92) – to win two AA regional titles.
Pottstown’s four gold medalists – John Jensen, Ecker, Kyle Musso and Fred Holly – matched 2005’s total. That mark is second only to the seven (Mike Bakay, Gentry Brownie, John Freese, Todd Wright, Jeff Satterwhite, Paul Green and Randall Beasley) titles won in 1984.
Phoenixville’s Joe Mandrusiak and Rob Newcomb were the Phantoms’ first twosome to go gold since 1996 (Jason Meister and Josh Moyer). And Pius’ had two champions, Ryan Miller and Enzo Carannante, for the first time in three years.

One of the most improved programs in all of District 1 is Penncrest. But despite going into last Saturday’s District 1-AAA Central Tournament with nine qualifiers, the Lions failed to end one of the district’s longest and more infamous streaks – the most years without a district champion. No one has accomplished the feat since Randy Erickson swept the gold medal at 127 pounds way, way back in 1968. In simple math, that’s 40 years ago.
Penncrest has had a pair of Southeast Regional champions – current Boyertown head coach Pete Ventresca (1990) and the late Reed Shanaman (1998), but no district champions other than Erickson.
“That’s unbelievable when you think about it,” Ventresca said prior to Saturday night’s finals.

Bentley doesn’t need any additional motivation for Friday night’s first round of the AAA Southeast Regional. But the senior needs just one win for the 100th of his career.
Bentley, who swept the Section Four and District 1-Central gold medals the last two weekends, is on a roll of late. Since dropping his last two bouts at the Escape the Rock and then a 6-5 decision to Spring-Ford’s Tim Miller on Jan. 9, he’s won 14 straight bouts. In that run are five pins, one forfeit, three technical falls, three majors and two decisions – 9-5 over Pottsgrove’s Zach Robinson, who was the district North runner-up last week, and 8-1 over Lower Merion’s Marcus Neafsey in the Central final last Saturday night.
“After losing to Miller I thought, ‘This is my ninth loss, I’m so sick of losing,’ ” Bentley said Saturday night. “I was a little down on myself, so I decided I had to turn everything up a notch.
“But dropping from 119 to 112 is a big difference, too. At 119 the kids are a lot bigger. But at 112 I have a lot more confidence. I don’t feel anyone is stronger than me at 112.”

The area will have 25 wrestlers in the AAA regional and 12 in the AA regional this week. Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen lead the way with six each, while Pottsgrove will have three (freshman Zach Robinson and seniors Matt Michaels and Mike Noto) for the first time in recent memory. Perkiomen Valley’s lone representative will be junior Jordan Deane at 135.
Daniel Boone’s Tyler Swartz finished second at 285 during last weekend’s AAA Southcentral Regional to earn a spot in next week’s PIAA Championships. Swartz (38-4) opens against the third-place entry from the Northwest Regional.

Spring-Ford’s Ryan Kemmerer (128) is now tied with Spring-Ford graduate Eric Smith at No. 25 on the area’s career win chart. Methacton’s Jonathan Hammond (126) is 29th, while Ecker (124) is tied with Boyertown graduate Nick Hyatt in 31st place. … The other two active wrestlers over the 100-win mark are Swartz (114) and McCormick (107).
In addition to Bentley, other active leaders in the area are Michaels (91); Spring-Ford’s Matt Patterson (88); Fuschino (87); Spring-Ford teammates Gareth Cooper and Alex Kanakis (86 each); Holly (80); and Upper Perkiomen’s Jared Bennett (75).

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Gem of a time for District 1

The New Year began with headlines about Alcatraz being named a federal prison, which didn’t take long to disappear from the front pages after the infamous John Dillinger broke out of another with a wooden pistol. By late January, with prohibition a thing of the not-so-distant past, the first liquor store opened in Pennsylvania.
In February, sports fans, especially those diehards up in New York, began volleying insults at one another when the Yankees convinced Babe Ruth to take a $15,000 pay cut and sign for $34,000, the crosstown Giants rewarded National League MVP Carl Hubbell with a raise, a whopping $18,000 contract, and the Brooklyn Dodgers hired a young man by the name of Casey Stengel as their new manager.
Then in early March, Babe Didrikson Zaharias – perhaps the greatest female athlete of all time – pitched an inning during an exhibition game between the A’s and Stengel’s Dodgers. She walked the first batter, hit the next, then promptly ended the calamity by getting the third batter to hit into a triple play.
The year was 1934.
And while Zaharias was turning heads down in Florida, a group of unsung athletes competing in the relatively unknown sport lined up in Temple University’s Conwell Hall for the inaugural District 1 Wrestling Championships.
So when they unroll the mats for today’s four – that’s right – four District 1-AAA and AA tournaments, it’ll mark the 75th Anniversary of the oldest sanctioned scholastic wrestling tournament in the state.
There were only an estimated 25 PIAA-member schools in all of Pennsylvania with wrestling programs, and seven of them – Cheltenham, Coatesville, Haverford, Jenkintown, Radnor, Upper Darby, and Upper Merion – were represented at District 1’s tournament, not only the first of its kind in Pennsylvania but also one of the oldest on record in the entire country.
Competition was held in nine weight classes – 85, 95, 105, 115, 125, 135, 145, 155, 165, and 185 pounds (which was an optional bracket for dual meets). There was no such thing as growth allowance, now known as weight allowance, either.
And the officiating?
Officials, dressed in white pants with a long-sleeve white shirt, bowtie and black shoes, conducted the bouts verbally (the use of whistles did not become part of the sport for almost 20 years), and he touched the competitors to signal a break in the action or to stop the wrestling. An official called a pin by slapping the wrestler executing the fall on his back. However, the wrestler being pinned could also concede the match himself by slapping his opponent on the back. If the match wasn’t decided by a pin, the official would decide the winner or call the bout a draw
Few disputed calls back then. Especially Cheltenham’s Wilbur “Dutch” Lehman, whose Panthers swept six of the nine individual titles behind Pat Serago (95), Jules Bell (105), Hugh Fisher (125), Ed Drehmann (135), Tony DeMaria (155), and Carl Ruzicka (165). The lone three to survive Cheltenham’s knockout punch were Upper Merion teammates Howard Mowrer (115) and Jenard DeSimone (145), and Upper Darby’s Lloyd Black (185).
Bell, who would never lose a bout in his high school career – a mark matched by DeSimone – and Black finished the memorable weekend with the first of their three straight district championships. Black would go on to Temple and become a three-time NCAA qualifier (1939-41) at 175 pounds. In 1986, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.
Lehman, who matched wits with such pioneers as Al Adam of Lower Merion, Bill Geyer of Upper Darby, Herbert Homer of Lansdowne, and Lloyd Moll of Upper Merion, would have to be considered one of the founding fathers of wrestling in District 1. He introduced the sport at Shamokin High School in the late 1920s, then established the sport at Cheltenham in 1933, where he stayed for 14 seasons and compiled a 96-4 overall record. Lehman was inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in 1979, and later into the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.
And overlooked at that inaugural District 1 showdown were a couple of youngsters – Frank Horpel and Frank Osinski.
Horpel, a freshman at Upper Darby that year, would wrestle for the Royals as well as for Penn State before serving with the Marines during World War II. After the war, he settled in California and started up the wrestling programs at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana and at the Orange Coast YMCA in Newport Beach. His contributions were at last recognized six years ago when he was inducted into the California Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. Accepting the award for him was his son, Chris, who was an NCAA All-American and a member of the U.S. Olympic team’s Greco-Roman squad.
Osinski, a freshman at Upper Merion that year, would wrestle for the Vikings as well as for Temple, where he was a three-time NCAA qualifier (1939-41) and the first graduate of a District 1 school to earn All-American honors when he placed fourth at 155 pounds during the 1941 NCAA Championships at Lehigh University.
A lot of individuals – student-athletes, coaches, administrators, contributors and fans – have since changed the District 1 wrestlers landscape dramatically.
Weight classes have been added and subtracted, rules have been modified or changed entirely, and the tournament itself has undergone a number of alterations.
The District 1 showdown itself remained virtually unchanged for 40 years. But in 1974, the two-district alignment (North and South) as well the first Class AA (smaller schools) tournament was adopted. Last year, the AAA bracket went to a three-district alignment (North, Central and South). And this year, District 12 – the Philadelphia Public League – has joined the South lineup.
So for the District 1 Wrestling Tournament, happy anniversary.
You have been a genuine gem.
* * *
The area’s first District 1 champion was Owen J. Roberts’ Sand Sweisford, who swept the gold medal at 103 pounds in 1966. … The area wouldn’t have another for two years, or until OJR teammates Keith Nyman (130) and Ted Madden (180) gave head coach Fred Follar two more champions in 1968.
Other area schools’ first District 1 champions were: Boyertown – Kevin Mitchell (119) in 1978; Methacton – Rick Moser (112) in 1975; Perkiomen Valley – Kevin Kehs (heavyweight) in 1974’s Class AA tournament; Phoenixville – Ernest Kelly (145) in 1973; Pottsgrove – Mike Meko (105) and Dave Matthews (126) in 1974’s Class AA tournament; Pottstown – Dan Staverosky (103) and Garry Billy (112) in 1969; Spring-Ford – George Landis (165) in 1970; St. Pius X - ; and Upper Perkiomen – Jeff Smith (98) in 1977’s Class AA tournament.
* * *
Four of the area’s current head coaches were also District 1 champions – Methacton’s Bill Moser (1977-78) at Methacton; Phoenixville’s John Tornetta (1981) at Phoenixville; St. Pius X’s John Martucci (1982) at Council Rock; and Upper Perkiomen’s Tom Hontz (1983 and 1985) at Quakertown.

80 YEARS AGO: The first NCAA Championships were held at Iowa State. … Oklahoma State had four individual gold medalists and swept the team title.
50 YEARS AGO: Michigan’s Max Pearson, a graduate of The Hill School, places second at 130 pounds during the NCAA Championships at Wyoming. The top-seeded Pearson, the 130-pound runner-up the year before, decisioned Colorado’s Garth Rogers; Oklahoma’s Stan Abel (who would win a national title in 1959); and Cornell’s Carmon Molino. However, in the final, he falls 7-5 to Iowa State’s Les Anderson. … Also competing that year at the NCAAs was 115-pound Art McCall, who would later take over the Upper Darby wrestling program.
Don Seeley is the sports editor
of The Mercury.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Invitation helps area wrestler step up

Fifteen area wrestlers had gold medals draped around their necks and bracket posters in their hands last Saturday night. But no one, with the possible exception of Baby Huey look-alike Justin Franiak of Spring-Ford, was beaming more than teammate Matt Patterson.
Even though he’s a senior, arguably one of head coach Tim Seislove’s most improved Rams since stepping into the practice room three years ago, and one of the anchors in the upper end of the team’s lineup the past two seasons, Patterson had never been invited to step up and onto the top rung of any awards podium.
Not once.
“This is the first time in my life I’ve won a (wrestling) tournament,” Patterson said after sweeping the 160-pound weight class in the District 1-Class AAA Section 4 Tournament at Great Valley High School.
Fourth as a sophomore and third a year ago, Patterson went the direct route this time around with a pair of pins against Downingtown East’s Zack Shiner and highly touted Boyertown freshman Zach Heffner to get into the final. And while a narrow 6-5 decision of Kennett’s Josh Trykowski may indicate otherwise, Patterson pretty much had his way in the nightcap.
“My friends have these hanging all over the place,” said Patterson, holding out his gold medal and bracket poster. “Believe me, I’ve wanted one for myself for a long time.
“I think back to midgets and remember I’d always get seconds. In junior high school, it seemed like I always finished second behind (Boyertown graduate) Jamie Soupik. Then in high school … well, I finally did it. This feels real good.”
About a half-hour later, Patterson was leading the cheers for Franiak, perhaps the unlikeliest champion at the sectional considering he was 0-1 last season and only the fifth seed at 285 for Saturday’s affair.
But Patterson, albeit a bit longer, knew how Franiak was feeling after his first tournament win, too.
“I’m just excited,” Patterson admitted. “Never winning before has been eating at me since I was 12 years old. This is a personal victory. I finally achieved something I wanted to achieve. It’s great.”

The seven area teams at sectionals last week – Pottsgrove and Upper Perkiomen at Section Two; Methacton and Perkiomen Valley at Section Three; Boyertown, Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford at Section Four; and Daniel Boone up in District 3’s Section Four – combined for the aforementioned 15 individual champions. A more impressive number, though, was their 61 district qualifiers.
Upper Perkiomen and its virtual no-name lineup continued its overachieving late-season run by advancing an area-high 10. Methacton, Boyertown and Spring-Ford each have eight alive, while Pottsgrove, Perkiomen Valley and Owen J. Roberts each have seven, and Daniel Boone has six.

Not three-peat … but triple-treat is what Pottsgrove, Perkiomen Valley and Daniel Boone provided area fans last weekend.
Traditionally, those programs aren’t necessarily the most productive at this part of the season. But that sure changed last weekend, and could be an indication of things to come in the near future.
Pottsgrove has never – repeat – never advanced seven to a Class AAA district tournament. Its 12 entries last weekend combined for an 18-18 overall mark, the first time they had a collective non-losing mark in a postseason tournament.
Moreover, 119-pound Zach Robinson became Pottsgrove’s first sectional champion in 15 years, or since Brian Shallcross accomplished the feat back in 1993. He also became the school’s first freshman to pin down a sectional title and first freshman to win 30 matches in a season. If that isn’t enough, Robinson has five teammates – Mike Noto (29), Justin Miklich (28), Matt Michaels (25), Eric Dubree (25) and T.J. Demetrio (23) – still with a mathematical chance of reaching 30 wins, and no Pottsgrove team has had more than one in any season. And, believe it or not, Robinson has three more years to become only the third two-time sectional champion in the program’s history, joining Mike Meko (1973-74) and Chris Beasley (1990-91).
Perkiomen Valley, under first-year coach Tim Walsh, is advancing seven to districts for just the second time in its long history. Of those seven, five are underclassmen, which bodes well for the Vikings’ future.

Thanks in part to an OW effort from 140-pound Jonathan Hammond and additional golden finishes by Kevin Boegly and freshman Brandan Clark, Methacton nearly pulled off the big “team surprise” last weekend. Despite dropping three of their last four dual meets – two of which cost them the Suburban One American Conference title – the Warriors bounced back and came within a mere four points of overtaking Hatboro-Horsham in the Section Three scoring.

The area was well-represented up in District 3 last weekend when Daniel Boone head coach Matt Palmer advanced his six Blazers out of the Section 4 Tournament.
Tyler Swartz (35-3) continued his outstanding season with a gold medal at 285, while Eddie Lockowitz (28-10), Francis Healy (35-7) and Josh Sheriff (33-4) all settled for runner-up honors at 103, 145 and 189, respectively. Tim Hessels (7-4) and Jared Martz (17-14) also medaled by finishing third and fourth, respectively, at 171 and 160.
The six will be at this weekend’s AAA Southcentral Regional at the Hersheypark Arena, with the top three in each bracket earning a week of rest and then a spot in the PIAA Championships.

There were 31 returning champions on the District 1-AAA sectional cards Saturday morning, but by Saturday night only 20 duplicated their feats of a year ago. Of the 11 who failed to repeat, six settled for runner-up honors; three more battled back from earlier losses to take thirds; and two others saw their seasons end – one on the mat, the other off because he chose not to remain with his team.
Council Rock South (Section One) and Springfield-Delco (Section Five) had the most sectional champions last weekend – five each. The two teams will be part of the District 1-AAA South setting this Saturday.
There will be 14 defending champions in the three district tournaments this weekend. Six will be in the Central showdown at Spring-Ford; five will be in the South at Council Rock North; and the remaining three will be in the North gathering at Central Bucks South.

Brandywine Heights’ 119-pound Matt Yocco strung together three pins – in a total time of 2 minutes and 41 seconds – during last weekend’s District 3-Class AA Section 3 Tournament to tie Upper Perkiomen graduate Mark Smith’s state record for career falls (124). Yocco will, in all likelihood, break the mark this weekend during the AA Southcentral Regional at Hersheypark Arena.

Kemmerer (125), a junior, and Hammond (123), Swartz (111) and Owen J. Roberts’ Connor McCormick (104), all seniors, head to districts as the area’s active career win leaders. … Kemmerer could move into The Mercury’s all-time Top 25 with another three wins this weekend. … Hammond moved past John Pagnotta into fourth place on Methacton’s career chart and is now tied for third with 2007 graduate Brad Clark, older brother of current teammate Brandan Clark, a 215-pound freshman. Hammond will finish third, as both Jeff Albano’s (137) and Dan Covatta’s (145) totals are out of reach. … Kemmerer and Hammond were both named the OWs of their respective sectionals on Saturday. … OJR’s Will Bentley (96), Spring-Ford’s Alan Gauger (93) and Daniel Boone’s Josh Sheriff (92), all seniors, are still within reach of the 100-win milestone as well. … Pottstown’s Seth Ecker (122), a senior and the only area wrestler over the 100-win plateau, makes his postseason debut Saturday in the District 1-Class AA Tournament at Springfield-Montco.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Surviving the grind

With the exception of a handful of matches remaining on the local as well as District 1 docket, the two-month, two-week regular season is over. Everybody has their gold, silver, bronze and whatever other color medals, ribbons, plaques and trophies from the round-robins, classics, tournaments and invitationals. League championships, for the most part, have been decided, as have the prestigious district and state duals titles.
The grind is upon us.
The annual four-week grind.
The postseason, that is. The month when scholastic wrestling unveils its very unique character … individual sport at its best.
Forget about previous match-ups, and whatever resulted from them. There are no more arguments for if only this would’ve happened and if only that would’ve happened. Rankings are meaningless and, like reputations, carry absolutely no weight.
Excuses, whatever they may be, fall on deaf ears.
Beginning this weekend, with the six sectionals throughout District 1 – as well as the sectional for Daniel Boone up in District 3 and the prep school’s state tournament – arguments are limited to six minutes (a couple more if overtime is required to settle an issue).
Beginning this weekend, we find out exactly who is who.
For area wrestlers, specifically those weighing in for the District 1-AAA sectionals, what lies ahead may be their biggest or most formidable challenge in a long, long time. Yes, there is a number of quality – make that high-quality – wrestlers spread throughout the 14 weight classes. But, for the first time in a number of years, there are just as many if not more high-quality wrestlers to greet them, or challenge them, from the other sections … and it will only get more competitive with each passing week.
And if anyone is aware of that it’s the four returning state medalists and 16 other returning state qualifiers, all of whom are aware that the past is just that, the past. There are no guarantees.
So don’t get all hyped up when the sectional seedings are released Thursday night. Like all the numbers from December through last weekend, including those priceless prestige points, they’re meaningless.
“That’s the beauty of this sport,” said a PAC-10 coach who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s that time of the year when my nobody can knock off your somebody. It happens, and sometimes more than we care to admit. If you’re not ready to go, and ready to go for six minutes, the other guy will. And that usually means the end of your season.”
Stay tuned…
Council Rock South should be applauded for its fourth place at last weekend’s PIAA-Class AAA Team Duals Championships in Hershey. It was the fourth straight year a team from District 1 has finished among the Top Four in the duals.
However, in the four years since the team duals were expanded and the district got three berths, it was District 1’s worst overall showing as far as wins and losses.
Council Rock South (2-2), Council Rock North (0-2) and Quakertown (0-1) combined for a 2-5 mark, well below the overall marks of the district’s three showings in 2005 (5-4), 2006 (5-3) and last year (6-5).
Also, Octorara was ousted in the opening round of the Class AA competition last Tuesday night, which meant District 1 remained winless – a humbling 0-13 – in the 10-year history of the state’s AA duals.

Wrestler of the Week honors go to St. Pius X senior Enzo Carannante, who despite his 15-16 record swept the 145-pound bracket and gold medal during last Saturday’s Interboro Invitational.
Coach of the Week honors go to Pottsgrove’s Matt Pawlik, who led his team to a rout of Phoenixville last week that clinched a rare winning season (13-12 overall) for the Falcons.

Boyertown and Spring-Ford put up a pair of lopsided wins last week to close as PAC-10 co-champions. For the Bears, it’s a share of the title they won outright a year ago, while the Rams earn a share of the title for the first time since sharing the 1998 title with Upper Perkiomen.
Upper Perkiomen, by a decision over Perkiomen Valley last week, will settle for third place.
Over the last six seasons, or since Boyertown joined the Pioneer Athletic Conference, the Bears are 44-5, with four of those losses to Upper Perkiomen and the other just a few weeks ago to Spring-Ford; the Indians are 41-7, with five of the losses forfeits and the other two to Boyertown and Spring-Ford this season; and the Rams are 39-10, with five losses to Boyertown, four to Upper Perkiomen, and one to Perkiomen Valley (this season).
St. Pius X hosts Pottstown tonight in a match that finishes up the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s 22nd season of wrestling.
Spring-Ford is far and away the leader in Pioneer Athletic Conference wins (167), followed by Upper Perkiomen (126). Pottstown and Perkiomen Valley are tied for third (98), although the Trojans move up a notch with a victory at Pius tonight. Owen J. Roberts and former member Great Valley share the fifth spot (92).

The Hill School’s final dual meet was cancelled by host Penn Charter, so the Blues – under first-year head coach Jesse Young – will finish with one of their most successful regular seasons (7-6) in a number of years.
The Blues, as well as Perkiomen School and West-Mont Christian Academy, will participate in the Pennsylvania Private School State Tournament this weekend at Germantown Academy.
Among Hill’s hopefuls at the state tournament will be Tyler Mueller (119 pounds), Dwayne Sampson (125), Steele Phillips (130), Karl Wiszumerski (135), David Phillips (152), Darnell Morrow (160) and Jay Knighton (285).
Sampson recently announced he will continue his wrestling career next year at Trinity University in Hartford, Conn. Sampson plans to major in Chinese and Japanese.

Methacton’s forgettable finish and Neshaminy’s up-and-down week means both will have to wait until next year for their respective programs to reach impressive milestones. The Warriors dropped three of their last four matches and will open next season needing two wins to reach 500. Neshaminy, which recently stunned Pennridge to gain a share of the Suburban One National Conference title only to get thumped seven days later by Hatboro-Horsham, will open next season needing just one win to reach 600.
Although there are a few more resignations and/or retirements expected in the coming month(s), Plymouth-Whitemarsh’s Bob Lorence announced he was stepping down prior to last week’s win over Methacton.
Lorence spent his first five years as a head coach at Springfield-Montco and the last 27 guiding the Colonials’ program. The very amiable and respected Lorence led PW to a school-record 21-3 overall mark this winter.
Henderson senior Hunter Smith, a district qualifier a year ago who was expected to be among the leading 171-pounders in the postseason, tore the lateral collateral ligament in his knee during practice and will likely be sidelined.
Council Rock South head coach Brad Silemperi picked up his 100th career win with the Hawks over the weekend. It came in the state duals’ consolation semifinals against none other than Nazareth – his alma mater. In the consolation final, though, Silemperi and the Hawks lost to Cory Poff and Central Mountain. Poff is the son of Council Rock graduate Carl Poff – who later was Silemperi’s coach at Lock Haven University.
There are only two league titles yet to be decided before the postseason gets under way on Saturday. The Del Val championship will be decided Wednesday night when Interboro (4-1) travels to Sun Valley (5-0), and heavily favored Council Rock South (6-0) is expected to pin down the Suburban One Continental Conference title Wednesday when it visits winless Souderton (0-6).

Upper Perkiomen graduate and current assistant Mark Smith’s state record for career pins (124) is likely to get broken in the coming week or weeks. Brandywine Heights senior Matt Yocco has 121 heading into this weekend’s District 3-Class AA Section 3 Tournament at Hamburg. Yocco is 178-25 with those 121 pins … Yocco’s twiin brother Nick is 164-35 with 100 pins, and sophomore brother Zane is already 85-12 with 48 pins. Add that up and you get a 427-72 mark with 269 pins. If that isn’t a record of some kind in this state, well…
District 6-AA champion Mount Union, which swept the Bill Fretz Duals at Perkiomen Valley last month, went 0-2 in the duals and finished 23-3. … AA champion Burrell (21-0) finished as Pennsylvania’s only unbeaten dual-meet team this year. The Buccaneers, who defeated two-time defending champion Reynolds in the semifinals, became the first District 7 school to capture the AA championship. … Central Dauphin became the first District 3 school to capture the AAA championship.

A number of requests for area schools’ all-time win leaders have been received in recent weeks. They are, as follows:
Boyertown – Jesse DeWan (143); Daniel Boone – senior Tyler Swartz (108); Hill School – David Hoffman (189); Methacton – Dan Covatta (145); Owen J. Roberts – Aaron Brown (134); Perkiomen School – Larry Frankenfield (115); Perkiomen Valley – Tim Smith (111).
And, Phoenixville – Jason Meister (127); Pottsgrove – Chris Beasley (112); Pottstown – Joey Allen (132); Spring-Ford – Tom Ingram and Jason Shivak (134 each); St. Pius X – Craig Owsiany (90); and Upper Perkiomen – Zack Kemmerer (199).

Spring-Ford’s Ryan Kemmerer (122), Pottstown’s Seth Ecker (121), Methacton’s Jonathan Hammond (120), Daniel Boone’s Tyler Swartz (108) and Owen J. Roberts’ Connor McCormick (102) enter the postseason as the area’s active career win leaders.
OJR’s Will Bentley (93), Daniel Boone’s Josh Sheriff (90) and Spring-Ford’s Alan Gauger (91) also have a chance to reach the 100-win milestone. Bentley and Gauger would have to wrestle through the AAA Southeastern Regional, while Sheriff – who would join Swartz as the only 100-bout winners in Daniel Boone history – needs to qualify and win a couple of bouts at the state tournament.
Five juniors – OJR’s Nick Fuschino (80), Upper Perkiomen’s Jared Bennett (70), St. Pius’ Bobby Burns (70), Upper Perkiomen’s Mike McStravick (66) and Boyertown’s Tim Feroe (66) – are on target to reach the milestone next season. Two others, Boyertown sophomores Alex Pellicciotti (66) and Matt Malfaro (63), are also on pace to hit the mark next season.

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Baseball loses one of its best

Baseball lost one of its big hitters last week with the passing of Barry Trate.
The kids who play the game lost a great coach, an even greater role model … one of their most loyal fans.
The entire area lost a genuine gentleman.
Yes, Jane Trate did lose her devoted husband of 52 years, and Laurie, Cherie, Marcie and Chris did lose their beloved father. The emptiness, and the heartbreak his passing has created in the family, was oh so evident the past week, as it will be throughout this morning’s memorial services.
Time, as so many know, doesn’t heal all wounds.
But as Jane and Laurie, Cherie, Marcie and Chris have already heard – and will continue to hear – Barry Trate inspired and influenced so many lives beyond his immediate family. They’ve heard the stories, some over and over again and, aside of a new one here and there, will continue to hear them for quite some time.
And if they haven’t already, will soon realize just how Barry Trate’s love of baseball impacted so many youngsters’ lives.
“He loved baseball and he loved kids,” said Ross “Squiggles” Smith, chairman of the Boyertown American Legion Baseball Committee. “And he loved teaching baseball to kids.”
Barry Trate fell in love with baseball growing up in Reading and played it as passionately as anyone every spring in high school and every summer for the Gregg Post’s American Legion organization. It didn’t change while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps – and playing for his unit in Quantico, Va. – either. Then, nearly 50 years ago, Trate brought his knowledge of the game and his uncanny ability to teach it to the Pottstown area.
It would be easy to point a finger toward an entire dugout full of men responsible for revitalizing the game in this area. But Barry Trate would definitely be in there among them.
He got involved with both of Pottstown’s Junior and Senior American Legion programs, and no one was more grateful – or expressed their appreciation for what Trate brought to their organizations – than the late Pat Sundstrom and his son Carl Sundstrom.
Trate had to take a few summers off, from baseball that is, because of extensive work-related travel. “I couldn’t stand it,” he told me years ago.
It wasn’t long before his itinerary changed … for good, too.
In 1988, he teamed up with Bob Houck on the Boyertown Bear-Cubs’ coaching staff. The following season, after Houck left, he teamed up with Lee Mecherly, and the two were together through last season. In his 19 years with Houck and Mecherly, the Bear-Cubs won more than a dozen Berks County League championships and six Pennsylvania state titles.
Trate was also an assistant under Boyertown High School coach Todd Moyer for six seasons. Most forget he served as an area, district and regional administrator for Pennsylvania Junior Legion, too.
But it didn’t matter if he was coaching or administrating, or when and where he was coaching or administrating, Trate didn’t miss many games – spring or summer.
“Barry had a great understanding of the game, a real passion for the game,” Smith said. “I don’t know many people who knew the history of game like Barry did, either.
“He loved the game. He loved to share his knowledge of the game with kids. He taught you to respect the game, too.”
Mecherly saw how quickly Trate earned the respect of his players, just 13-15 years of age.
“He was so good, so very good, with the younger kids,” Mecherly said. “They liked him, too, and that’s important.
“Barry was just a great guy. He’s going to be tough to replace. I’ll miss him big-time, like a lot of people will.”
Among them, Moyer.
“Barry Trate definitely had a passion for the game, but he also understood the game,” Moyer said. “It was his passion for the game that drew kids to him and to the game. Barry always had time for them. Whether it was before or after a practice, before or after a game, he’d always be willing to stick around with a kid and work with them individually.”
Trate didn’t just see baseball as a game with nine-on and nine-off, basepaths, fences and the like…
“It was more than just a game to him,” Moyer added. “What upset Barry more than anything was seeing a talented player who didn’t spend time practicing or working hard to get better.
“But what he enjoyed more than anything was seeing those other kids … the ones, regardless of how good they were, who wanted to learn, who wanted to play. He loved that. He loved helping them.”
Don’t think those “kids” didn’t learn to appreciate him, either. Every summer, they thanked him.
And there were even a few thirtysome-year-old kids thanking him in their prayers this past week.
Barry Trate was inducted into the Pennsylvania American Legion Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, and the Berks County Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 … honors he more than earned.
What Barry Trate didn’t earn, or deserve, was cancer.
First diagnosed with prostate cancer 12 years ago, he battled back until being diagnosed with bone cancer last July. Radiation and chemotherapy treatments weakened him, but not enough to keep him away from the ballpark.
He was barely able to get to his seat at last summer’s American Legion state tournament at Spring-Ford High School. When asked if he needed anything… well, let’s just say all he wanted was a Boyertown win, another Boyertown state championship. A couple of months ago, while lying in his bed in the hospital and asked if he needed anything … well, let’s just say all he was interested in was what teams were going to be good this spring in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
You know, it’s a shame the cancer, which he fought so courageously for so long, didn’t show up with a bat and ball … because Barry Trate would’ve beaten it, and not into remission but submission.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Power shift was long overdue

A couple of avid wrestling fans were calling last weekend’s District 1-AAA Team Duals Tournament a long-overdue power shift because, finally, Upper Perkiomen wasn’t walking off with the title again.
Well, it was more of a power move than a shift.
Council Rock South, Council Rock North and Quakertown were seeded first through third, respectively, and finally brought some sanity to one of the most unpredictable dual-meet seasons in recent memory by finishing in that same order in Class AAA. The Suburban One representatives were, without question, the class of the bracket.
But, with the possible exception of Quakertown – arguably the “Team of the Year” if gauging where head coach Kurt Handel’s team was back in December and where it is now – Newtown’s neighboring rivals haven’t exactly been wrestling in anonymity since the school district split up and chose sides.
Last year, Upper Perkiomen, Council Rock South and Pennsbury finished one, two, three and went off to the state duals. Two years ago, it was Upper Perkiomen, Council Rock South and Council Rock North lining up for the awards. And in 2005 – the first time the district duals went to wrestlebacks and advanced three teams to states since the inaugural run back in 1994 – it was Upper Perkiomen, Council Rock North and Boyertown pinning down the top three spots.
Add that up and, in the four years of wrestlebacks and qualifying three teams for the PIAA Duals, you’ll get Upper Perkiomen, Council Rock South and Council Rock South moving on three times each, and Boyertown, Quakertown and Pennsbury advancing one time each.
The District 1-Class AAA lineup boasts 58 wrestling programs, but only six have qualified for – or accounted for – the 12 state-tournament berths.
Those kind of numbers don’t justify a power shift by any stretch of the imagination. They kind of make one question if there’s even been a power move of any significance.
There hasn’t been, at least not yet.
And what happens when the PIAA-Class AAA State Duals get under way tonight and continue over the weekend out in Hershey, will reveal just how much if any “move” has been made by the district. You see, there are one (actually two) measuring sticks … and they’re how its teams fare against the best from Districts 7 and 11.
Since 2005, District 1 is 3-3 against District 7, with Upper Perkiomen owning all three of those wins (two over Kiski Area in 2005 and one over Penn-Trafford last year). During that same period, District 1 is 2-5 against District 11, with Upper Perkiomen owning both wins (over Nazareth and Easton during its run to the state title two years ago).
And if you go back to 1999, the first year of state duals and the first of six years in which only the district champion advanced, District 1’s overall record against District’s 7 and 11 in the Class AAA bracket is 5-12.
Tonight, Quakertown gets baptized in the state tournament with a meeting against District 11 runner-up Nazareth, who decisioned Easton in Saturday’s semifinals and denied the Red Rovers a chance to appear in its eighth consecutive state final (that’s right, eighth straight – they were second the last three years and the state champions the previous four seasons).
On Friday morning, Council Rock North – by virtue of a forfeit over District 12’s George Washington – gets to tangle with unbeaten District 6 champion Central Mountain. All the Wildcats have done this season is finish second at both the brutal Top Hat and King of the Mountain tournaments, third at the Manheim Christmas Invitational, and destroy – among others – District 9 king St. Mary’s (51-18). If Council Rock North survives that one, they get District 7 champion Connellsville, which has been a proverbial pain in this district’s side for as long as one can remember.
Then Friday afternoon, Council Rock South will be waiting for, in all likelihood, either District 7 runner-up Penn-Trafford or District 10 champion Erie Cathedral Prep. The Penn-Trafford Warriors have lost only twice, to District 6-AA champion Mount Union – which showed its knockout punch during a visit to Perkiomen Valley earlier this winter – and, of course, to Connellsville three days ago. If the Golden Hawks survive their opener, make no mistake about it, they’ll go up against District 11 champion Northampton, the same Northampton they lost to, 58-11, back on Dec. 8.
So, yes, there has been a slight power move in District 1 … but as far as a power shift, in the district or throughout Pennsylvania, is still to be determined.
Last Saturday was the first time since 1998 that the Pioneer Athletic Conference wasn’t represented in the semifinals and only the second time in that span of time the league didn’t have a team in the final. And Octorara’s upset of Pottstown ended the PAC-10’s three-year dominance of the Class AA bracket.
The PAC-10 did have some representation in the championships, though. Council Rock South’s coaching staff includes assistant Deric Lynch, a Pottsgrove graduate; and Octorara’s head coach is Mark Durante, a Spring-Ford graduate.
Upper Perkiomen was eliminated in the consolation semifinals by Quakertown, the alma mater of Indians head coach Tom Hontz and assistant Jamie Ritter. The two combined for six section, two district and two regional titles as well as a couple of state medals during their careers with the Panthers.
Another Quakertown graduate, Chuck Hangey – a 1968 sectional champion whose son was a state champion in 1988 – was one of the mat officials in Pottstown’s Class AA bouts Saturday.

Wrestler of the Week honors go to Upper Perkiomen freshman Cody Ambrose, who was close to losing by a technical fall in one match and on his way to a loss by at least a major decision in another before coming up with a pin in both to help the Indians to a pair of wins.
Coach of the Week honors go to Upper Perkiomen’s Tom Hontz, who guided his No. 13 seeded Indians to a split of four matches in the District 1-Class AAA Duals to finish among the top six.

Boyertown and Spring-Ford will attempt to put the finishing touches on their PAC-10 seasons and claim a share of the title Wednesday night. The Bears (6-1) visit St. Pius X (0-6), while the Rams (6-1) visit Pottstown (1-5)
Perhaps the most entertaining match will be between Perkiomen Valley and Upper Perkiomen up in Red Hill. Both teams are 5-2, and the upstart Vikings haven’t defeated the Indians in over 10 years.
Pius entertains Pottstown next Tuesday night to close out the 22nd year of wrestling in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
Spring-Ford (22) and Boyertown (5) – along with former member Great Valley (12) – are the only teams with winning seasons in each of its years in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
Pottstown needs wins over Spring-Ford and St. Pius to reach 100 league wins. The Trojans trail only the Rams (166) and Upper Perkiomen (125) in Pioneer Athletic Conference wins and are one in front of Perkiomen Valley (97). Great Valley and Owen J. Roberts are tied for the fifth spot with 92 each.

Unquestionably of the most improved teams from since the beginning of the year has been Neshaminy. Back in its season opener, the Redskins lost all but four contested bouts in a 37-19 loss to Spring-Ford. Last Wednesday night, they defeated District 1-Class AAA Team Duals quarterfinalist Pennridge, 30-23, for a share of the Suburban One National Conference championship – the program’s first title in 12 years. … Quakertown incidentally, pounced all over Plymouth-Whitemarsh last week to clinch the Suburban One American Conference title, its first since head coach Kurt Handel’s senior year with the Panthers back in 1990.

While it may be a relatively quiet week for some, it won’t be for long because the individual postseason grind gets under way next week with District 1’s six AAA sectionals on Friday, Feb. 16. That’s the same starting date for Daniel Boone’s in its District 3-AAA sectional. … The Hill School, enjoying one of its best seasons in quite some time, and Perkiomen School will be at the Pennsylvania Prep School State Invitational Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16, at The Haverford School.

Spring-Ford’s Ryan Kemmerer (121), Methacton’s Jonathan Hammond (119), Pottstown’s Seth Ecker (119), Daniel Boone’s Tyler Swartz (108) and Owen J. Roberts’ Connor McCormick (102) continue to climb the area’s career win chart.
Kemmerer is currently tied with Methacton graduate and three-time state medalist Brad Clark for 34th on the all-time list. Hammond is within three wins of tying Warrior standout John Pagnotta for fourth place on the Warriors’ career chart. Ecker, who shares the 41st spot with Hammond and former Boyertown standouts Zac Brower and Fred Rodgers, still has a mathematical chance to better Pottstown’s career mark of 132 held by three-time state medalist Joey Allen (132).
OJR’s Will Bentley (93), Daniel Boone’s Josh Sheriff (90) and Spring-Ford’s Alan Gauger (89) also have a chance to reach the 100-win milestone in the postseason. Sheriff could join Swartz as the only 100-bout winners in Daniel Boone history.