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 3, 2009

Great Valley issue handled well

My oh my, how we’ve progressed. Let’s see, we have voice mail, e-mail, text-messaging, blogs, forums, Facebook … enough already. We still have the ol’ Letter to the Editor, too (nah, forget that one — you actually have to write or type something and sign your name to it).

But everyone has an opinion on everything, and countless venues to express them.

Go back as long as you want, back to our parents’ or even our grandparents’ day — a generation or two, if you will — and you’ll find, very much like today, everyone had an opinion of this and that. But those opinions, our own personal points of view or what we may have thought was right and wrong, were curbed to a great extent by respect.


Gotta be kidding me, right?

Respect? That’s gone the way of the rotary telephone and Atari, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Tetris.

No one knows exactly when or where, but at some point and time, way too many people became authorities on sports. No one knows for sure if they were motivated by their own past, when they may have failed miserably as athletes themselves or were scarred by an indifference with a coach or two. Perhaps they were motivated during the drive to and from work with sports talk shows of all kinds blaring on the radio,

or during the hours at home when they melt into the sofa, flick from channel to channel to watch and listen to even more experts.

But eventually, or so they think, they know a great deal more about the games than anyone else, including the men and women who coach them and the athletes who play them.

So today, thanks to our electronic geniuses, these sports authorities — hiding behind the anonymity afforded them by voice mail, email, blogs, and forums — express their opinions on anything and everything.

Sadly, they’re read (or heard).

The sport of wrestling sure hasn’t escaped the experts’ wrath, either, especially in recent years. And the great mat minds were full of themselves last week when Great Valley pulled out of the District 1-AAA Duals because of a skin infection that spread throughout the team.

There were those who questioned the “timing” of head coach Joe Tornetta’s decision to pull out, others who questioned the “competency” of District 1 administrators for not replacing Great Valley in the duals lineup. There was one genius who questioned the professionalism — or integrity — of a writer who covers the Patriots for our sister paper, The Daily Local News. Of course, as every genius likes to claim today, he or she had their sources. I won the lottery four times last month, too (and didn’t even buy one ticket).

The fact anyone would question Tornetta or Great Valley’s administration on their handling of the skin infection issue is ludicrous.

When the seeding meeting was held Sunday a week ago at Spring-Ford, Tornetta had one wrestler diagnosed with excyma and another seeing a doctor for a “pimple look alike.” One was already cleared to return to the mats the day before the district duals began. But at the conclusion of Tuesday’s practice, both wrestlers’ conditions had worsened, at least visually on their face, neck, and arms, and another wrestler developed a “pimple look alike” condition. Tornetta made calls to the parents to have their sons get checked by doctors. Upon returning to school Wednesday morning, Tornetta was informed there were three suspected cases of herpes gladiatorum, the scientific name for mat herpes. The Ches-Mont League match with Rustin on Wednesday night was postponed at that time.

Also on Wednesday, a dermatologist spoke with Great Valley administrators who, along with Tornetta, made the decision to shut down the wrestling program for 10 days because even more wrestlers may have been infected by the skin condition despite showing no symptoms.

Within the hour, at approximately 3 p.m. Wednesday, calls were made to both Bob Ruoff, chairman of District 1, and Dennis Kellon, chairman of the District 1 Wrestling Steering Committee, to inform them of the situation at Great Valley as well as the decisions to shut down the program and pull out of the duals.

Tornetta and everyone else at Great Valley should be commended, not condemned, for handling the situation.

The writer who was covering the incident from the beginning was bashed for not revealing the so-called story right away — Monday, that is. First of all, there was no story on Monday, or Tuesday for that matter. A skin condition or two, which a lot of wrestling teams experience in a season, doesn’t constitute a story. But when it spreads throughout a team and causes a program to be shut down, it is a story.

The media doesn’t — and should never at any time — write or publish stories based on hearsay or according to unreliable sources. And creating a story without someone, a creditable source, that is, to back it … well, check the fiction section of your nearest library. It’s called professionalism, and ignoring that standard can easily lead to libel or defamation suits in this litigation-happy society today. So Thursday, when it became “official” that Great Valley was out of the duals, the Daily Local News reported the story the following morning.

Of course, the geniuses took a few shots at the district administrators for not reseeding, too. The reseeding would have been elementary, but doing that — inserting a new 24th and final seed and bumping everyone up would have also meant changing locations for quite a few teams’ first-round matches. But that, as simple as it may sound, would have also created obvious havoc for teams with their already scheduled travel plans of getting to the right location in time.

Ruoff, Kellon, and everyone else involved in the decision to stay the course — giving the winner of the first-round match that was supposed to face Great Valley a forfeit — meant no complete overhaul of the bracket was required. No wave of phone calls had to be made, not one coach had to prepare for “another” team at the last minute, and not one school had to rework its transportation schedule. In other words, good job.

Bottom line, Tornetta and everyone else at Great Valley did what was best for their wrestlers and, in doing so as proficiently and promptly as they did, protected the entire District 1 wrestling community.

As far as surprises on the mats, there were none in last week’s first two rounds of the District 1-AAA Duals. Except for No. 17 Perkiomen Valley’s win over No. 16 C.B. West — and C.B. East getting the forfeit, of course — there were no upsets.

The District 1-AA Duals champion will come from outside the PAC-10 for the first time in three years. Pottstown swept the title the previous two years, while St. Pius X won it in 2006.


The District 3-AAA duals seedings were released over the weekend, and they should be of interest to wrestling fans around the state when the tournament gets under way tonight. Two of the best teams in all of Pennsylvania — Central Dauphin (10-0) and Cumberland Valley (11-2) — are seeded No. 1 and No. 2 — and No. 3 Lower Dauphin (20-1) is no slouch, either. Berks County champion Schuylkill Valley (20-1) drew the No. 4 seed, while runner-up Wilson (17-2) opens as No. 7. … The other big boy in the Commonwealth — Northampton — is likely to get the No. 1 seed up in District 11, which holds its tournament this weekend. And while Nazareth and Easton are expected, as always, to compete, don’t overlook Blue Mountain, which has been ranked as high as No. 4 in the state this season. … Central Mountain, another proven power this winter, is expected to get the No. 1 seed out in District 6.


Spring-Ford recently joined Methacton as the only area schools with 500 or more wins in the history of their wrestling programs. The Rams’ milestone win was their 45-28 decision of Upper Moreland in the final match of the Parkland Duals two weeks ago. Going into this week’s matches, Methacton (503) and Spring-Ford (502) and eighth and ninth, respectively, on District 1’s all-time win chart. Unofficially, Pottstown is 10th with 490 wins.

A number of other schools throughout the state have reached or passed milestones of their own this season. Pius X (District 11) has gone over the 300-win mark; General McLane (District 10) has passed 450; Corry (District 10) has gone over 500; and Nazareth (District 11) has gone beyond the 700-win mark in its storied history.


Boyertown’s Ryan Kemmerer, who is expected back in the lineup this week, is at No. 8 on The Mercury’s career chart with 150 wins. … Teammate Tim Feroe is at 98 and could hit the coveted 100-win mark Friday night at the duals. … Upper Perkiomen’s Mike McStravick (95) is within range, but may have to wait for the postseason, when Boyertown’s Matt Malfaro (89) is likely to reach the mark as well.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home