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

Holiday Mat Madness

This column originally appeared in the Dec. 30 edition of The Mercury.

The insanity, or the annual here-we-go-again, end-of-the-year holiday wrestling rage, ends this week. Eight area teams, as well as a slew of others from around District 1, have already been or will be participating in 21 different tournaments - duals, round-robins, classics, invitationals and whatever else you’d like to call them - in four districts around Pennsylvania as well as in others over in New Jersey and down in Virginia and North Carolina.

And just in case all that isn’t enough to ring in the New Year (without the help of mom’s pots and pans and those wooden spoons and spatulas), there are a handful or so of other duals, classics, invitationals and the like the following weekend.

Mind you, The Beast, Reno, Battle at The Beach, and King of The Mountain in a two-week span borders on lunacy. But this week (and next)?

Mat madness.

But by week’s end, if not the following weekend, all of the wrestling will likely provide some insight into who’s who, or who will be who, heading into the bulk of the regular dual-meet season and, of course, into the district duals (which get under way in just 23 days, remember).

Today, there’s no question Boyertown and Upper Perkiomen have separated themselves from everyone else in the Pioneer Athletic Conference and are clearly the area’s top-ranked teams. The Bears and Indians happen to be No. 1 and No. 7 in the district, too, at least according to PA-D1wrestlingcom.

They’ll get around to settling their own issue - and likely the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship - on Wednesday, Jan. 14 up in Red Hill.

Do not, repeat, do not overlook Upper Perkiomen ... nor any of the other formidable teams in between or around the two PAC-10 representatives in the district-wide rankings.

Great Valley sure seems to have the upper hand in the Ches-Mont League, and much the same can be said about neighboring rivals Council Rock North and Council Rock South in Suburban One National; Quakertown in Suburban One Continental; Norristown in Suburban One American; and Conestoga, Radnor and Springfield-Delco in the Central League.

Now, bring all those teams onto one mat ... well, take your pick.

Right now, today (not yesterday or tomorrow), it would be difficult not to favor either Boyertown or Great Valley surviving the marathon. Both may have as much depth, from top to bottom, as anyone, and both have the ability to shuffle wrestlers up and down their lineup that, in most instances, will help them pin down bonus points as well as help them avoid surrendering them.

Boyertown can ill-afford anymore injuries, though. Senior Charles Jones (171 pounds) broke his ankle at The Beast and, in all likelihood, will miss the remainder of the season. Sophomore Zach Heffner (189), who was 9-0 before a knee injury forced him to default out of the Beast, is week-to-week.

“I don’t know if (Jones) is out for the rest of the year, but he definitely is out for a good portion of the year,” said Boyertown head coach Pete Ventresca. “And (Heffner) is good, doing well. He’s questionable for the Cedar Cliff Duals (this weekend), but we’ll work him back into the lineup.”

The Cedar Cliff Duals, ironically, is where Heffner was hurt a year ago. He didn’t return until the postseason and, despite wrestling his way to districts, wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent.

This year’s edition of the Cedar Cliff Duals could determine if Boyertown and Great Valley remain No. 1 and No. 2 in the district, or yield to No. 3 Quakertown (or someone else, for that matter).

The two will be part of an eight-team field that includes Pennsylvania’s No. 1 Northampton (No. 5 in the nation), Maryland’s highly regarded Mount St. Joseph’s, Great Valley, District 11’s Parkland, and District 3’s Manheim Central, Red Lion and the host Colts.

“We’re definitely going to be tested,” Ventresca said. “There are no cupcakes in this tournament.”

Great Valley sure won’t be.

The Patriots, with eight wrestlers owning 14 or more wins, have swept their own season-opening tournament and the Keystone Games Invitational, dominated the Border Battle Duals in N.J. two weeks ago, and swept all five matches at the Bob Rohm Duals last weekend.

Head coach Joe Tornetta, a graduate of Phoenixville who had a district dual contender a year ago before injuries and illnesses sat down five of his starters in the weeks leading into the tournament, has two outstanding lightweights in Kyle Liberato (16-1, 122 career wins) and Gary Magill (3-0, just back from surgery). He also has as good as finishing punch as anyone in the district from 152 through 285 with Domenic DeRobertis (16-1, 101 career wins), Justin Schellenger (17-1, 102 career wins), Scott Schretzenmaier (16-2), Myles Tornetta (16-2), Carl Buchholz (17-1, 126 career wins), and Casey Haines (14-4).

“We’re off to a pretty good start,” Tornetta said. “If we can avoid the injuries it will be fun to see what these guys might be able to accomplish this season.

“But there are so many outstanding teams out there this year. We will have to be at our best at all times if we hope to compete with them.”

As will everyone else.

* * *

Six area teams - Daniel Boone and Pottstown (Governor Mifflin), Methacton (Buckskin Classic), Perkiomen Valley (Wetzel Classic), Pottsgrove (Christmas City) and Spring-Ford (Manheim) - finish up their respective two-day tournaments today. ... Upper Perkiomen will be at the Battlefield Duals in Va., on Friday and Saturday, while Perkiomen Valley gets right back into it again at the Octorara Duals on Saturday.


Sid Nodland, who was very instrumental in developing Great Valley’s program, died last week. He took over the Patriots’ program in 1962 and was the head coach for 17 seasons, leading two of his teams to Ches-Mont League championships. Prior to his arrival in Frazer, he was the head coach at Haverford High School for three seasons.

Nodland, a native of New York, was also an accomplished wrestler. He attended Mepham High School on Long Island, where he competed for legendary coach Sprig Gardner. He was a National AAU champion in 1952 at 114.5 pounds. His career continued at Penn State, where the 123-pounder was an EIWA champion and three-time medalist as well as a three-time NCAA qualifier for the Nittany Lions. His best showing at nationals was in 1957, when he lost an 8-7 decision in the quarterfinals to No. 2 seed and eventual runner-up Harmon Leslie of Oklahoma State, and a 2-0 decision in the consolation semifinals to No. 3 seed and eventual bronze medalist Dick Mueller of Minnesota.

Nodland, whose daughter, Thea, is the wife of Downingtown West head coach Darrin Cummings, will be inducted posthumously into the National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in April.


A peak into the history book as we enter a New Year, and celebrate the 70th season of sanctioned wrestling in District 1:

Seventy-Five Years Ago: The first “official“ season in District 1 began with competition in nine weight classes - 85, 95, 105, 115, 125, 135, 145, 155 and 165 pounds (with an optional 185-pound bracket for dual meets). There were no growth allowances during the season.

Seventy Years Ago: The PIAA experimented with an individual and team point-scoring system to determine the accuracy of officials overseeing individual bouts. Five points were given for takedowns and reversals and three points were given for escapes and near-falls, as well as by aggressive wrestling determined by the official.

Sixty Years Ago: The 10-foot center circle was introduced and whistles were first used by officials.



Blogger Sports Traveler said...

Woo. you must have great luxury sports holidays.

April 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM 

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