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.

Friday, March 5, 2010

No. 7 not so lucky for Boyertown

This column was originally published in the Feb. 16 edition of The Mercury.

The mathematics of wrestling is pretty simple. Getting the upper hand in least seven of the individual bouts (with a few bonus-point wins among them) often adds up to a team victory.

Often, not always, that is.

The problem is very few teams anywhere have seven guarantees every time they line up for a match. That means at least half of the lineup must step up on occasion. That’s step up as in winning. That’s step up as in staying off one’s back and losing by a decision instead of a major or more, surrendering the minimum team points.

If anyone this season has learned just how important that is, to salvage a split or more, it was Boyertown.

The Bears lost seven duals – all to state-ranked opponents – this winter. On Day One, they came up three points short against Bethlehem Liberty and one point short of Council Rock North. In the finals of the Cedar Cliff Duals, they came up two points short of Parkland. At the Cumberland Valley Duals, they were beaten by both the host Eagles and Central Dauphin by misleading spreads of 11 and 15 points, respectively. And during last weekend’s state duals, they came up four points short against Parkland again before their worst loss of the entire season, a 20-point shellacking by Council Rock South – the same Council Rock South they defeated earlier in the week for the District 1 team title.

Against Central Dauphin – hands down the best team in Pennsylvania (with six straight state titles now – three

each in the duals and individual tournaments) – the Bears won only five bouts, getting pinned in three and losing three decisions by three points or loss. Against Council Rock South late Friday night, the Bears discovered their adrenaline engines had stalled after the narrow loss to Parkland.

In those five other setbacks, Boyertown won six of the individual bouts. Six, remember, not seven or more.

The difference in them was dropping two bouts by two points or less against both Liberty and Council Rock North; losing one bout in overtime and another by three points against Parkland; getting pinned four times against Cumberland Valley; and losing three one-point decisions in the rematch against Parkland.

Oh, so close.

This isn’t horseshoes or quoits, though.

Yes, the Bears more than earned their share of props in recent years, even more this year. They have already clinched their fourth straight Pioneer Athletic Conference title, and should win it outright following Wednesday night’s visit to St. Pius X. They also avenged – in a very convincing manner – that earlier loss to Council Rock North en route to the district team championship, quite an achievement considering just how good they wrestled against the district’s elite.

But head coach Pete Ventresca and his staff, as well as many of the Bears themselves, knew there could’ve been more … much, much more than their two-match cameo at the Giant Center in Hershey last Friday.

No one had to ask them, either. They voluntarily confessed to not wrestling up to their collective ability.

If it’s any consolation, every wrestling team will have an off-day or off-night, just like every other high school team will, from baseball, basketball and football to hockey, lacrosse and volleyball.

The Bears didn’t need anyone to remind them their latest off-day was ill-timed. And they didn’t need anyone to remind them about the math, either.

In time, what happened in Hershey will stay in Hershey, and this season will be remembered as one of the best – if not the best – at Boyertown since the program began back in 1965.

* * *

Central Dauphin, after surviving a 35-34 semifinal thriller against Central Mountain, swept its third straight team title with a 41-28 win over Parkland in Saturday’s AAA championship. … The surprise of the weekend in Hershey had to be Fort LeBoeuf, which avenged two earlier losses to Reynolds with an exciting 32-29 victory in the Class AA final. Reynolds, which had won three of the last four AA titles, defeated the Bison 39-23 in the regular season and 35-18 in last week’s District 10 final and was undefeated (20-0) going into Saturday’s showdown. Snowstorms delayed Fort LeBoeuf’s state-opener until Thursday afternoon. But the Bison buried Shadyside Academy, made their way to Hershey right after the match, got a good night’s sleep, then bombed Benton, shocked unbeaten Schuylkill Valley and, of course, finished off the memorable week with the victory over Reynolds. … The best individual bout, at least for area fans, was the 135-pound feature between Boyertown’s Alex Pellicciotti and Council Rock South’s Josh Dziewa. Pellicciotti nearly had a takedown and back points, but the Iowa-bound Dziewa worked out of it and won, 4-1. It’s a shame a few fans didn’t show the class both Pellicciotti and Dziewa showed before, during and after their match.


For the first time in 14 years, the top two spots in the Pioneer Athletic Conference wrestling standings will not include a combination of Boyertown, Spring-Ford or Upper Perkiomen. The last time two of the three didn’t finish one-two was in 1996, when Spring-ford went 9-0 and Great Valley went 8-1. Barring any major upsets (like Phoenixville over Owen J. Roberts on Tuesday or St. Pius X over Boyertown on Wednesday), it will be the Bears and Wildcats finishing one-two this season. This winter was the first time Owen J. Roberts had beaten both Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen in the same season. From 1997 through 2002, Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen were first or second (and vice versa), and from 2003 through last year it was the Rams, Indians or Boyertown occupying the top two spots.


Spring-Ford clinched its 24th straight winning season in the Pioneer Athletic Conference earlier this month. The Rams haven’t had a losing season since the league began in 1986-87. Neither has Boyertown, which owns the next longest streak at eight since coming into the league in 2002-03.


Boyertown (3-0), Owen J. Roberts (1-1), Spring-Ford (0-1), St. Pius X (0-1) and Upper Perkiomen (1-1) all qualified for the district’s AAA and AA duals and went a combined 5-4, improving the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s overall record in district duals competition to 71-61. Upper Perkiomen (30-11) and Boyertown (17-9) headline the PAC-10’s win chart. … The league’s overall record in state duals is now 14-17.


The Hill School won just one of four matches in last Saturday’s Mid-Atlantic Prep League championships. The Blues lost to national power Blair (69-9) and Peddie (54-22), rebounded with a win over rival Lawrenceville (43-33), then dropped its last match to Mercersburg (45-29).

Head coach Jesse Young got an outstanding performance from freshman Aaron Harris, who was 4-0 at 125. Teammates Jack Sullivan and Colin Saunders each went 3-1 at 130 and 135, respectively, while heavyweight Jay Knighton split his four bouts.

Young and the Blues were a bit short-handed. Karl Wiszumerski (140), Nate Mueller (160) and Jack Hutchinson (215) are injured and didn’t compete. Hutchinson is out for the remainder of the season, which includes this week’s state prep feature at Westtown and the following week’s National Prep Championships at Lehigh University.


Pellicciotti last week passed Upper Perkiomen graduate and former state runner-up Darren Kern in career wins, moving into seventh place on The Mercury area’s chart with 157 victories. Pellicciotti, who has won more than half his bouts (82) with pins, is two away from Upper Perkiomen’s Derek Zinck and four away from moving into the Top Five alongside Upper Perkiomen’s Mark Smith. … Boyertown teammate Matt Malfaro (137) is currently tied with Methacton graduate Jeff Albano for 15th place.

Daniel Boone senior Eddie Lockowitz, who earlier this season became just the second Blazer to reach 100 career wins, will run out of bouts – regardless of what unfolds in the postseason – in his attempt to erase Tyler Swartz’s school-record 116.

Closing in on the 100-win mark are Owen J. Roberts’ Scott Syrek (95), Boyertown’s Jeremy Minich (94), Pottsgrove’s Zach Robinson (91), and Methacton’s Brandan Clark (90) – all juniors. Syrek and Minich could get their milestone wins in two weeks at districts, while Robinson and Clark will likely have to wrestle their way deep into the regional or states to reach the 100-win mark.



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