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, March 24, 2009

WCU’s Evans pins down NCWA gold

There are a few people, to say the least, who have been quite impressed with Dillon Evans’ devotion to wrestling.

Aside of mom and dad, none more than West Chester University head coach Joe Miller.

After graduating from Council Rock South High School two years ago, Evans didn’t feel at all comfortable at Virginia Tech. So he transferred to West Chester, a bit closer to home but a school without wrestling for the past twentysome years.

So Evans, with some help from Miller and friends around District 1, reversed the Golden Rams’ ways, pinned down a few commitments here and there and, yep, got the program started, even became the president of the so-called club.

“It’s only a club, so it’s not a way of life,” Evans said during an interview with The Daily Local News back in November. “It’s good because you can still do what you have a passion for. We have a lot of talent and can actually win some tournaments and get to nationals. It’s cool getting a chance to get back to wrestling and competing.“

Almost immediately, West Chester — which once owned a very respectable Division I program until it folded back in the 80s — was part of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.


Perhaps not as much as what he accomplished last weekend during the NCWA Championships.

The 149-pound Evans didn’t just qualify for nationals, but ran the table with five dominating wins, the last a technical fall over Kansas State’s Thomas Pipes, to capture the gold medal.

His effort highlighted the week that saw two other District 1 graduates — Williamson Trade’s Eric Powell (Plymouth-Whitemarsh) and Rensselaer Poly Technic’s Ryan Michaels (Pottsgrove) — earn All-American honors as well by finishing fourth and seventh, respectively, at 157 pounds.

“Needless to say we’re very proud of Dillon,” said his father, Ed Evans, a District 1 champion himself for the former Council Rock High School back in 1981. “He put in an awful lot of hard work, not only in training, but also in getting the school’s wrestling club started in the first place last fall.”

Evans, who was seeded second to defending national champion Alex Broadwater of Maryland-Baltimore County, began his run with a technical fall, then added 9-2 and 7-3 decisions to get into the semifinals. That proved to be a challenge, when U.S. Naval Prep’s Chris Piccoletta took him into overtime. However, 42 seconds into the extra session Evans pinned him to get into the final with Pipes, who decisioned Northampton C.C.’s Cody Struening, who just earlier stunned Broadwater with a first-period pin in the quarterfinals.

Pipes was simply no match. Evans dominated from the outset, eventually rolling up a 20-3 technical fall that ended a few ticks into the third period.

Among those witnessing Evans’ final were a few big names from West Chester’s wrestling past, including John Purnell, now with Brute; former All-American Roger Sanders, who went on to a Hall of Fame coaching career at Bloomsburg; former coach Dale Bonsall, still a highly respected clinician in the Philadelphia region; and Pottstown graduate Alray Johnson, one of the Golden Rams’ most successful wrestlers in the late 60s and early 70s.

Evans, who won sections four times, districts twice and regionals once at Council Rock South, made a huge impression on Johnson this season. So much, in fact, Johnson gave him his wrestling shoes to wear in the final.

“That was special,” Evans’ father said.

Powell and Michaels gave District 1 two medalists at 157.

Just a freshman, Powell breezed into the semifinals before a 7-1 setback to Northampton Community College’s eventual runner-up Andrew Ritchie, a graduate of Nazareth. He blanked Central Florida’s Ryan Witzel to get into the third-place final, where he came up short in a 4-2 meeting with U.S. Naval Prep’s Matt Jackson.

Michaels, a junior who was third in 2007 and fourth a year ago, opened with a 2-0 shutout of Wichita State’s Kyle Cline and followed with a 2-1 decision over Winona’s Chad Stenson in the second round. He blanked, 2-0, in the quarterfinals by Ritchie. Despite the loss, Michaels came back with a 2-1 overtime victory against Connecticut’s Michael Battinelli, but lost a 3-1 sudden-victory encounter with No. 2 seed Mike Leonard of Grand Valley. Michaels then capped his week with a 4-1 decision in the seventh-place final against Greg Burger of Bowling Green.

Also competing at the NCWA Championships but failing to medal were Williamson Trade’s Paul Capriolo (Conestoga), who split his four bouts and came within one win of the medal rounds at 125; Penn State’s Jason Turpyn (Neshaminy), who went 0-2 at 125; and West Chester’s Brandon Banks (Wissahickon), who was 2-2 at 197. … Amherst’s head coach Eddy Augustin – a graduate of Spring-Ford who was featured in The Mercury last week – had a very successful debut. His two qualifiers, Guy Matisis (235) and Tim Rose (285), finished first and second, respectively, to help the Lord Jeffs finish 14th in the final team standings.


Kutztown’s Jake Kemmerer, a senior from Crestwood High School, knocked off a pair of two-time defending national champions to win a second of his own and earn the Outstanding Wrestler award during last weekend’s NCAA Division II Championships at the University of Houston.

The 133-pound Kemmerer (27-1) put together a 4-2 decision over Nebraska-Omaha’s Cody Garcia, in the second round, then held on for a 2-1 tie-breaker win over Pitt-Johnstown’s previously unbeaten Shane Valko in the final for the gold medal. He had opened with a 5-0 shutout and, in between the victories over two-time champions Garcia and Valko — who had dealt Kemmerer his lone loss of the season two weeks earlier in the regional final — won a 1-0 tie-breaker.

Kemmerer finished 60-4 in two seasons at Kutztown and 91-11 overall in his college career. He had previously wrestled at UNC-Greensboro.

At Crestwood, Kemmerer was a three-time PIAA qualifier and familiar opponent for some District 1 fans. In 2002, he lost a 3-0 decision to Norristown’s Tim Harner and came back with a 6-0 win over Oxford’s Jarrett Hostetter at 103 pounds. Two years later, he pinned Council Rock South’s Dillon Evans at 119.

Nebraska-Omaha ran away with the team title with one individual champion and a record nine medalists overall amassing 146.5 points — well in front of runner-up Newberry’s 80.5 points.


Eight graduates from the District 1 region will be on the opening-round card Thursday when the NCAA Division I Championships get under way at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Headlining the list will be Bloomsburg junior Matt Moley (Spring-Ford), who is 31-5 and coming off the big upset of Edinboro’s No. 1 ranked Gregor Gillespie in the 157-pound final of the Eastern Wrestling League Championships two weeks ago. Moley, a two-time state runner-up and three-time state medalist at Spring-Ford as well as an All-American last year for the Huskies, hadn’t beaten Gillespie in nine previous meetings.

Brothers and Council Rock South graduates Mike Rappo of North Carolina and Rick Rappo of Penn will be at 133 and 141, respectively. Mike, a redshirt sophomore and two-time PIAA state champion, is 24-8. Rick, a senior and former PIAA state champion as well, is 18-7.

Liberty’s Tim Harner (Norristown) brings a 25-8 mark into the tournament, where he’ll join the elder Rappo at 141. Also qualifying from the region are Virginia’s Chris Henrich (Germantown Academy, Lansdale resident), who is 36-1 at 165; Millersville’s Shane Smith (Upper Perkiomen), who is 32-13 at 174; Oklahoma’s Pat Flynn (Quakertown), who is 25-6 at 184; and North Carolina’s Dennis Drury (Germantown Academy, Jenkintown resident), who is 27-8 at 197.

Also competing this week will be North Carolina’s 157-pound Tom Scotton (20-13). Scotton is the son of Tom Scotton Sr., a standout at Bensalem High School and Bucknell University. … Henrich lost last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championships final to Maryland’s Mike Letts (Octorara), a two-time PIAA state champion who is red-shirting this season.


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March 25, 2009 at 2:55 AM 

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