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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.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pelliocciotti hoping for another go against Dziewa

This column was originally published in the March 10, 2010 print edition of The Mercury.

BOYERTOWN -- Alex Pellicciotti doesn’t want to hear about being oh-so-close. And don’t dare mention moral victory this or that, either.

The frustration of not being able to beat Council Rock South’s Josh Dziewa was never more visible than last Saturday night, shortly after the Boyertown senior lost a 1-0 decision to his Iowa-bound rival in the 135-pound final of the AAA Southeast Regional.

“I thought I could’ve done better,” Pellicciotti mumbled, clutching the silver medal that was absolutely no consolation for him. “I didn’t do anything. I just didn’t do anything.”

It may have been more of Dziewa just not allowing him to do anything.

Pellicciotti is good, very good … arguably one of the best lightweights this area has ever seen with his combination of strength and technique and, most important, blue-collar work ethic in the practice room. His skills have helped him win sections four times, districts three times, and regionals once. His will to succeed has helped him erase some enviable entries in Boyertown’s record book, like wins in a season (48), career pins (88), and career wins (166), and he needs just one more pin this weekend to break the Bears’ single-season pin record, too. He also owns a pair of state medals.

That’s quite an impressive resume.

But Pellicciotti would like to add to it this week during the PIAA Championships in the Giant Center at Hershey.

Add as in getting to the final and beating Dziewa … for the first time.

“I’m disappointed because I thought I could’ve done better, a lot better,” Pellicciotti said of Saturday night’s showdown against the once-beaten Dziewa. “I just didn’t wrestle like I thought I could.

“I had the mindset to (win) and I didn’t. That’s what is so upsetting for me now.”

Pellicciotti has been beaten just four times this season. His first two – 5-3 and 11-2 during the semifinals and consolation finals, respectively, of the Beast of the East Classic back in December – were to Long Branch (N.J.) senior Scott Festejo, who capped his career by winning the state title at 135 pounds last weekend in Atlantic City. The other two losses have been to Dziewa.

Dziewa, who opened the season ranked No. 1 in the country and is now No. 2 or No. 3, depending on what poll you care to choose, got the best of Pellicciotti in a 4-1 thriller during the state duals last month. Pellicciotti came very close to a takedown and back points in the bout, but Dziewa worked out of it and, for the most part, was in control the rest of the way.

Last Saturday night, in a rematch of their 2008 regional final (also won by Dziewa in a 7-2, double-overtime heart-thomper), the only scoring was Dziewa’s escape at the one-minute mark of the second period.

“You always wanted to get that first takedown,” Pellicciotti said. “But getting through the first period (0-0) didn’t get me upset. I thought it was a good period.”

What frustrated Pellicciotti was his inability to escape Dziewa’s ride throughout the final two minutes.

“I just couldn’t get my hips out,” he explained. “He stayed tight to my hips and didn’t give me any room at all. I can handle him with my strength, but he’s just one of those guys who is so hard to beat. Things didn’t work out.”

For now.

Thursday afternoon, Pellicciotti (41-4) begins his bid for a third state medal against Lewistown’s Jake Schultz (30-6). Should he survive that bout, he’ll likely get Derry’s Travis Shaffer (29-3), the Southwest Regional champion.

And if manages to get to the semifinals, most predict he’ll see Cumberland Valley’s fifth-ranked Shawn Greevy (20-2), the Southcentral Regional champion, who was injured during the Beast of the East Classic and had to forfeit (medical) his final two bouts, one to Pellicciotti.

The other half of Pellicciotti’s bracket this week features Dziewa, of course. And either Dziewa or Central Mountain’s Jordan Rich (34-2) – who was fourth a year ago – are likely to end up in the final.

Pellicciotti would like nothing more than getting to the final … and seeing Dziewa one last time.

“I definitely want to meet him again,” Pellicciotti said. “It’ll be another day, another tournament … who knows.”


There’s been a lot of hullabaloo over Pottsgrove’s T.J. Demetrio of late, and rightfully so. He became the school’s first regional champion – and first state qualifier – in 18 years last weekend by winning the 145-pound bracket at the AAA Southeast Regional.

What some of his own fans may not have realized is that he has just two losses since going 4-1 in the Chichester Duals back on Jan. 16 … two losses he has avenged.

Demetrio dropped a 4-3 decision to Pennridge’s Dylan Moore during the semifinals of the Section Two Tournament before recovering to finish third.

The following week, he took care of Moore by a 6-2 margin in the semifinals before dropping a 5-4 decision to Norristown’s Brandon Parker in the final of the District 1-North Tournament.

Last Saturday night, he took care of Parker with a dominating 8-3 decision in the regional final.

A junior, Demetrio was just 8-4 on the season when he returned home from those Chichester Duals. He’s 21-2 since.

Demetrio will have a chance to match Chris Beasley’s school record of two regional titles next season and also become Pottsgrove’s first two-time AAA regional champion. Beasley was golden at 152 pounds in the AA Southeast Regional in 1991, and golden at 160 pounds at the AAA Southeast Regional the following year.

The only other regional champion at Pottsgrove was Mike Meko (1974).

And with 76 career wins going into the state tournament, Demetrio (76) – along with teammate Zach Robinson (90) – will have a chance next season to join both Beasley (112) and Ryan Michaels (103) as the only Falcons with 100 or more career wins.


The 215-pound weight class, as expected all year long, was loaded at the AAA Southeast Regional last week. And for those who may think otherwise, consider this – Conestoga’s Greg Gruschow, an absolute talent, didn’t get out; Pennsbury’s Kevin Bree, who hadn’t even lost until the district final the week before, didn’t get out; and the behemoth from Bonner, Marcus Collins, didn’t get out.

Souderton’s Joe Stolfi, Oxford’s Nick Ruggear, Methacton’s Brandan Clark, and Owen J. Roberts’ Scott Syrek, who finished first through fourth, respectively, did. A formidable foursome, no doubt, but joining them in Hershey will be an equally formidable foursome – Connellsville’s defending state champion Nate Gaffney (40-2), who opens against Clark; Selinsgrove’s returning runner-up Spencer Myers (40-0); Bald Eagle Area’s Jon Gingrich (27-4), who was fourth a year ago; and St. Mary’s Sean Sadowsky (33-0), who was seventh a year ago and opens against Syrek.

And the AAA state brackets’ weight class with the best winning percentage – 215 pounds (the 16 entries are a combined 534-49 this season).

Hold on now. It doesn’t get much better, or easier, in Class AA, either. And that’s where St. Pius X senior Josh Rogers happens to be situated.

Rogers (27-5) opens against Forest Hills’ Jeff Meier (34-6), who just may be the only unknown in their half of the bracket. The others? Well, there’s Burrell’s Brian Beattie (42-4), Montoursville’s Nick Dawson (31-5), Union City’s Jared Burger (44-1), and Fairfield’s Dylan Ferguson (14-4), who were fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth at states a year ago. There’s also returning qualifier Todd Hall (37-7) of Athens … and they’re all bunched up with Rogers in the bottom half of the bracket. What makes it even more interesting is that Beattie and Ferguson meet in the first round, as do Dawson and Burger.



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