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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