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.

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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