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, 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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