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 16, 2010

All lights will shine on Bears-Indians duel

This column was originally published in the Jan. 19, 2010 edition of The Mercury.

They’re calling for a blackout in Boyertown on Wednesday night. Don’t panic, neither PPL nor PECO is turning off the electric (and there isn’t any heavy snow or high winds in the forecast, either).

The blackout will be confined to the high school gym, where Boyertown wrestling fans are being asked to wear black for the Bears’ annual Pioneer Athletic Conference dual – or brawl, as it’s come to be known – with Upper Perkiomen.

The last few years, the spotlight has been on the Bears, who have won two outright PAC-10 titles and shared another. Before that, the focus was on the Indians, who won eight outright PAC-10 titles and shared another.

As most of the folk in Boyertown remember (and many vow never to forget), the Indians at one time always had their way with their Bears. After surviving that 32-29 thriller back in 2001, or since leaving District 3 and the Berks Conference to enroll in District 1 and the PAC-10, the Bears lost six in a row to the Indians – eight if you dare count 2007’s two setbacks that were reversed to forfeit wins when a residency infraction was revealed up in Red Hill later in the year.

But a mere move here and there is about all that has separated the two in most meetings.

And in no time at all, Boyertown and Upper Perkiomen became, in every sense of the word, rivals … actually bitter rivals damned to outdo one another every time they met on the mat. Off the mat, neither care to be mentioned in the same breath with the other.

Their competitive fires have been reduced to very conspicuous sparks of late, and the condescension their respective followings have for one another has lost a bit (not all) of its snap, crackle and pop. But you can bet your next utility bill the fans in Boyertown would love nothing more than to keep the Indians in the dark Wednesday night.

Most feel they will, too.

Heck, the Bears have the added incentive of going for the program’s 500th win, a milestone only two other area

schools (Spring-Ford and Methacton) have reached.

But don’t try to sell any guarantees to the fellas leading the respective charges, namely head coaches Pete Ventresca and Tom Hontz.

Yes, Boyertown is clearly the favorite with a foursome – Matt Malfaro, Jeremy Minich, Alex Pellicciotti and Zach Heffner – its guests aren’t likely to keep up with. As a matter of fact, depending on the matchups, Upper Perkiomen may not have a clear-cut favorite in any of the 14 individual bouts. Sound familiar? It should, because not to awfully long ago it was Upper Perkiomen that lined up with a gang of so-called unbeatables that Boyertown wasn’t supposed to keep up with.

Winning four or five doesn’t equal victory. Sometimes taking six — or even managing a split right smack down the middle — doesn’t either, as several high-profile teams have proven time and time again through the years.

The swing matches, as we all love to call them, will be plentiful Wednesday night. They could also be very entertaining.

Depending on the coin flip and the matchups, the gem among the toss-ups may unfold at 112 – Boyetown senior Adam Kolb, when on his game can roll with some of the best in the district, going against Upper Perkiomen freshman Wolfgang McStravick, a genuine talent who is 17-3 already. Another could be at 130, with Boyertown’s vastly improved Peter Jones going against Upper Perkiomen’s Dan Rodenberger, a postseason surprise of a year ago when he nearly wrestled his way to states, who is beginning to get into a groove again since returning from an early season injury.

Ventresca sure has a little more depth, or options. Jon Neiman and Adam Benfield have surfaced as reliable talents who can flip-flop in the middle, and Ventresca can send out Brock Hallman, Tyler Mauger, Ryan Schwager and Heffner just about anywhere he wants from 171 on up. Hontz is likely to counter with Chris Rementer and Dalton Fleming in the middle, and with Cody Ambrose, Nate Pompei, Nick Hale and Dan Wolfram in the upper portion of the lineup.

The bottom line is that all will be decided on the mat. What is written here or discussed in the forums carries no weight whatsoever.

Odds are it won’t be a blowout, like the Bears’ 44-12 romp in the two teams’ first meeting way back in 1977, or like the Indians’ 48-9 thumping six years ago.

Even if it does end up a bit lopsided one way or the other no one can black out the fact Ventresca, Hontz and their respective programs will have helped enrich the rivalryand keep it one of the best in the PAC-10 and throughout District 1.

* * *

Upper Perkiomen leads the all-time series, 9-6. … Six of the meetings (just under half when not including the forfeits) have been decided by less than 10 points, including three by a mere three points. … All five of Boyertown’s losses this season have been to state-ranked opponents – Liberty, Council Rock North, Parkland, Cumberland Valley and No. 1 Central Dauphin. … Since joining the PAC-10, Boyertown is 53-5, while Upper Perkiomen is 49-9 (which includes the six forfeit losses in 2007). … The Bears and Indians have been No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in The Mercury’s rankings the past month.


Owen J. Roberts became the fifth team to reach 100 wins in the PAC-10 after defeating Pottsgrove last week. Spring-Ford, which has never had a losing season in the league, leads the list with 176, followed by Upper Perkiomen (138), Perkiomen Valley (105) and Pottstown (100).


Daniel Boone, behind Colin Martucci’s golden effort at 145 pounds, finished fourth in last weekend’s BCIAA Tournament – one of its best finishes in a number of years. … Head coach Jesse Young led The Hill School to a fourth in last weekend’s Valley Forge Military Invitational, getting gold from Colin Saunders (135) and Jay Knighton (285). And the tireless Tim Klavon, despite struggling to fill a lineup that has hardly any experience in it up at Perkiomen School, had two medalists (Luke Martin and Zach Sell) in the tournament.


Pellicciotti and Spring-Ford’s Matt Krueger have won 12 and 10 bouts in a row, respectively. … Malfaro has won 11 of his last 12. … Minich, who won his first seven before dropping two straight, has bounced back with eight wins. McStravick has had a similar run, winning his first nine, dropping three in a row, then winning his last eight. … Pellicciotti is also the area’s runaway leader in pins with 18. Upper Perkiomen’s Ambrose and Hale, along with Boyertown’s Heffner and Phoenixville’s Ken Cenci, all have 10 apiece.


Pellicciotti’s 148 career wins rank him ninth on The Mercury’s all-time chart. He needs two more to become just the ninth area wrestler ever to top the 150 mark. … Malfaro’s 128 wins put him at No. 29. … Daniel Boone’s Eddie Lockowitz (94) is within six wins of joining Tyler Swartz as the only Blazers on the list of 100 or more. … Minich and Syrek, both juniors with 88 career wins apiece, should reach the milestone before season’s end, and could be joined by Pottsgrove’s Zach Robinson (81), also a junior.


The District 1-Class AAA and Class AA Team Duals seeding meeting will be held Sunday. Neighborhood rivals Council Rock South and Council Rock North are likely to get the top two seeds in AAA. The survivor of Wednesday’s showdown in Boyertown could get a No. 3 seed. Look for both Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford to get into the 24-team field as well. … Octorara is almost a lock for the No. 1 seed in Class AA, and could be joined in that bracket’s four-team lineup by St. Pius X

The AAA’s first round (Thursday, Jan. 28) will be hosted by Hatboro-Horsham, Henderson, Pottsgrove and Upper Perkiomen. The remaining rounds (Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5-6) will be held in Strom Gymnasium at Pottstown High School.

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