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

Pottsgrove’s Demetrio packs big punch

This column originally was published in the Feb. 27 edition of The Mercury.

For 15 long weeks during last fall’s football season, T.J. Demetrio wrestled with opponents that literally dwarfed him. When you line up at nose guard at 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds (which may be fudging the scales a bit, too), you need a little more than just quickness and strength.

Like mental toughness...

“(Demetrio’s) as tough as anyone we have on that field,” Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker said during the Falcons’ run to the District 1-AAA title.

Shortly after stolling off the football field and onto the wrestling mat just over two months ago, Demetrio began getting smaller yet. He’s still 5-foot-7 mind you. He just lost some weight, like 20 pounds.

But he didn’t lose that mental toughness...

“No, I didn’t lose that,” the 145-pound Demetrio said Friday, shortly after his final workout for today’s District 1-AAA North Tournament at Quakertown. “It wasn’t a problem losing the weight, either. It’s a tough commitment to make, but I worked out twice a day. I kept my metabolism going, watched what I ate, and ate healthy.”

And has he ever been a healthy addition to the Falcons’ programs -- both football and wrestling, that is.

Last fall, he had six sacks, dropped opponents in their own backfield nine other times for losses, and was credited with 94 tackles overall. Despite his stature, he was a big part of Pottsgrove’s success story, which included a second straight Pioneer Athletic Conference title, that first district championship, and a school-record 14 wins. His contributions weren’t overlooked, either, as he was named to both the All PAC-10 and Mercury All-Area first teams.

The way he’s handled the transition from football to wrestling may very well end up in more postseason honors.

But for now, Demetrio would like get through this weekend and into next week’s Southeast Regional -- the final step toward a berth at states.

“(Wrestling) is a little easier size-wise,” Demetrio said. “In football I was going up against guys who were usually twice my size, so I had to have that mentality, that confidence I could beat them. In wrestling, I’m going up against guys who are my size, but I still go out there with the same mentality.”

Some may have questioned his approach at the outset, especially after dropping three of his first five bouts. But since that third loss, or since Jan. 9, Demetrio has been on a 20-2 tear. Included in that stretch are 14 pins and three forfeits, with the remaining three wins coming on a technical fall and two decisions.

“It was tough at first,” Demetrio said of getting out of the pads and into a singlet. “You have a lot of rust to shake off. In the beginning I was in a funk, a deep funk. But once you get some wins and get into a groove, things begin to click.”

Demetrio’s approach has been clicking all right, or enough to get him through last week’s Section Two Tournament. He bounced back from a semifinal setback with two wins to take third, good enough to help him make his district debut.

“I went 1-2 at sectionals last year,” he recalled. “I wasn’t really feeling right. I don’t know what it was.

“But I feel I’m really ready for this weekend. I feel I should get to the final, but I’m taking one match at a time. I’ve been working hard all week.”

Much like he had all football season ... and in the 10 weeks leading up to today’s tournament.

And all the bad weather this week didn’t bury that toughness, either.

“It hasn’t been that bad,” Demetrio said. “I went to school and got my workouts in. I was in there around six every morning. So I’m feeling good. I’m pretty confident, but I’m not over-confident. Like I said, I have to take it one match at a time.”


Demetrio will be accompanied to Quakertown this morning by teammates Denny Gibbons (130), Zach Robinson (140) and Chris Nester (215). ... Pottsgrove has gone the longest stretch without a district champion of any North school. The Falcons’ last district champions were Chris Beasley and Rick Thompson in 1991.

A total of 31 area wrestlers qualified for the North battle. Upper Perkiomen’s 10 lead the entourage, which includes eight from Perkiomen Valley, four from Methacton, three from Phoenixville, and two from Pottstown. ... The lone top-seed among the group is Methacton’s unbeaten Rob D’Annunzio, who is spotless in 30 bouts at 103 pounds. Picking up second or third seeds as a result of winning their respective sections last week were Dylan Steffenino of Upper Perkiomen (second at 103); Gibbons (third at 130); Gavin Milligan of Perkiomen Valley (second at 135); Robinson (third at 140); Vaugh Gehman of Perkiomen Valley (third at 145); Dan Cox of Methacton (third at 189); Brandan Clark of Methacton (second at 215); and Will Carter of Pottstown (second at 285).


Twenty-seven more area wrestlers — from just Boyertown (10), Owen J. Roberts (9) and Spring-Ford (8) -— are in this morning’s opening round of the District 1-AAA South Tournament at Oxford.

Boyertown’s Alex Pellicciotti (36-3) and Owen J. Roberts’ Scott Syrek (28-2) are the lone No. 1 seeds from the group. A two-time state medalist, Pellicciotti is at 135 and seeking his second straight district title. A state medalist a year ago, Syrek is at 215 and looking for his first district title. The junior upperweight is two wins away from 100 in his career.

Picking up second or third seeds as a result of winning their respective sections last week were Adam Kolb of Boyertown (third at 103); Andrew Kinney of Owen J. Roberts (third at 125); Matt Krueger of Spring-Ford (third at 160); and Zach Heffner of Boyertown (second at 189).


The majority of the St. Pius X lineup will have quite a challenge surviving today’s District 1-AA battle at Harriton.

The Lions didn’t get any top seeds, but Conor Myers (152) and Josh Rogers (215) are both No. 2 at 152 and 215, respectively, and A.J. Ebersole is third at 160.

Myers (22-3) should breeze into the final, where he’ll likely see Bristol’s Tom Kelly (24-5), who was third last year. Rogers (21-5) will have to watch Bristol’s Tyler Bliss (20-6), a runner-up a year ago, in a likely semifinal showdown. If he gets through that bout, he’ll more than likely see Harriton’s Manos Attaliadis (23-6), who was third last year. Ebersole (15-11), in all likelihood, will see Phil-Mont Christian’s Alex Avellino (20-5) in the semifinals. On top of the bracket is top-seeded and returning runner-up Tom Villareale (20-7) of New Hope-Solebury.

Octorara is heavily favored to win another team title. The Braves have five top-seeds, a pair of second-seeds, and one third-seed.


A number of bracket changes were made late Thursday and early Friday due to miscalculations in seeding the respective section champions. There were also three alterations in personnel, or wrestling entries. Up North, Methacton’s Pat Carr (24-7) will replace Section Three champion Aubrey Watkins of Wissahickon, who reportedly is injured, at 145 pounds. Down South, Radnor’s Ryan Efer is out and Sun Valley’s Dave Guardino (12-11) is in at 130; and Downingtown East’s Matt Nice is out and Spring-Ford’s Tyler Borelly (7-9) is in at 285.


While it hasn’t been hard at all to talk about Boyertown’s success this season – namely another Pioneer Athletic Conference title and the program’s first District 1-AAA Team Duals championship – there are another group of Bears who have gone well beyond what any group before them has… and they are the Upper Moreland Bears.

Last weekend at the Section One Tournament, Upper Moreland had a school-record five champions. Considering the program’s previous-high was four way, way back in 1971, that’s quite an accomplishment. Head coach Stefan Muller, a 2000 graduate of Upper Moreland in his fourth season, could see every one of those five – Jake Ellis (119), returning state-medalist Tim Santry (130), Max Agasar (145), John Bolich (160) and James Nicholson (171) – contend in their respective brackets again today during the District 1-AAA North Tournament at Quakertown.

Doubling up today would be a first, too, because Upper Moreland has never had more than one district champion in any one season. The Bears own just six overall, the last one being Pat Cissne back in 2000, who is one of only two Bears to pin down district gold medals in the last 25 years.


Perhaps the “Stat of the Week” came out of last weekend’s Section One Tournament. That would be Upper Moreland and Pennsbury with five individual champions each … two more than team champion Council Rock South, and four more than Council Rock North.

Don’t think the mats are crumbling over in the Newtown area, though. South advanced a section-high 10 wrestlers and North advanced eight of its own for today’s district showdown at Quakertown.



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