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.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Injury bug bites PAC-10’s best

This column originally ran in the Dec. 28, 2010 edition of The Pottstown Mercury

If it seems as though something has been missing through the first two-plus weeks of the wrestling season, well, there is.

Pottsgrove’s T.J. Demetrio and Owen J. Roberts’ Scott Syrek, both state qualifiers last March, have yet to step onto the mat. Boyertown’s Zach Heffner, another returning state qualifier who was off to an 8-3 start, may not be stepping onto the mat for a while. And Perkiomen Valley’s Lou Fioravanti, unquestionably one of the area’s break-out talents who wrestled his way to regionals last season and was projected to be one of the better heavyweights this winter, has yet to step onto the mat.

Injuries, injuries, injuries, injuries … ailing elbows, knees. You name it and they, unfortunately, got them.

Demetrio suffered an elbow injury in Pottsgrove’s first scrimmage and had to settle for a seat in the bleachers when the Falcons opened just over a week ago at the West Chester East Tournament. Syrek reaggravated a knee injury during the Super 32 Challenge in Greensboro, N.C., back in October, and has sat matside through the Bear Duals and Beast of the East as well as the Pioneer Athletic Conference opener with Pottstown. Heffner was a real bear throughout Boyertown’s season-opening duals as well as a PAC-10 test with Pope John Paul II before hurting his knee at the Beast of the East. And Fioravanti was all set for the season-opening Southeast Classic until suffering an elbow injury during practice the day before.

Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch…

“T.J. is coming along,” head coach Jeff Madden said of Demetrio, who last year became just the second AAA Southeast Region champion at Pottsgrove. “I guess if you’re going to get hurt, (getting hurt in the preseason) is a good time of the year to do it.

“He’s been taking it slowly, though. He’s going to wrestle (today and Wednesday) at the Christmas City (tournament).”

Late starts aren’t new to Demetrio. He was late getting into the practice room last year after helping the Falcons’ football team win the District 1-AAA team and advance to the state playoffs. But he made up for lost time in a hurry, joining Chris Beasley as the school’s only regional champion and becoming the program’s first state qualifier since Beasley way back in 1992.

“I guess it is very similar to last year,” Madden said of his 152-pound senior. “He didn’t get started then until Christmas City. If this had happened to someone else you may be a little more concerned. But T.J. works hard. He works so hard in the summer. He’s as prepared as well as anyone can. Every injury can set you back, but he’ll overcome it.”

Syrek, a two-time state medalist who has been slowed by shoulder and knee injuries throughout his career – which includes 103 career wins – isn’t expected to compete in this week’s Buckskin Classic at Conestoga Valley High School.

According to OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo, the 215-pound Syrek tweaked his knee during the Super 32 Challenge, where he had decisioned returning Pennsylvania state runner-up and nationally ranked Zach Nye of Pennsboro only to fall in the final to Garnet Valley’s Matt Idelson, who is also nationally ranked.

“He just reaggravated (the knee injury),” DeRafelo said. “We’re hoping to have him back as soon as we can, but it’ll probably be another two or three weeks.”

The Wildcats could really use Syrek in the lineup when they get into their 10-day January grind. From the 19th through the 29th, OJR’s schedule features PAC-10 showdowns with Upper Perkiomen, defending champion Boyertown and Spring-Ford.

“We’ve been pretty lucky up to this point that we have two young kids (Brad Trego and Nick DeAngelo) wrestling well,” DeRafelo said. “Not many teams have much depth, or good backups at 189 and 215, but both Trego and DeAngelo have done a nice job for us with (Syrek) out of the lineup.”

Boyertown head coach Pete Ventresca, as well as everyone else in his practice room, are hoping Heffner can make it back quickly … if at all.

A two-time Section Four champion who looked like a lock to return to states this season, the 215-pound Heffner was 3-1 and in line for a medal at the torturous Beast of the East. However, a knee injury forced him to medically forfeit to St. Mark’s Michael Mauk.

“Zach hurt his knee, but we don’t know to what extent,” Ventresca said. “It’s just one of those things that happen in this sport. Right now we just can’t jump to any conclusions. I know we don’t want to think the worst…

“But we’ll know soon. He’s waiting on the results of some tests, so no one knows for sure. It’s a wait-and-see situation. He may be good in a week or two, or he may be out for the rest of the season. All we can do at the moment is hope for the best.”

Fioravanti eluded injuries during football and throughout the two weeks of wrestling workouts. But the day before the Southeast Classic, the Viking heavyweight injured his elbow during practice.

“We were concerned at first because we thought (the injury) could be a fracture,” said Perkiomen Valley head coach Tim Walsh. “He hasn’t been able to wrestle since. He has been running, and he’s keeping his cardio up by riding the bike. But he really can’t do anything else.”

Without Fioravanti, the Vikings finished third at the Southeast Classic and had no trouble in a pair of duals against Unionville and Pottstown. But the veteran 285-pounder could have made a difference in last week’s 33-28 loss to neighboring Methacton.

“The kids are doing well, and everyone hopes to have Lou back as soon as possible,” Walsh said. “I know he had high hopes for himself after doing so well last year, so we hope to have him back before the postseason.”

* * *

Upper Perkiomen head coach Tom Hontz got a nice holiday present when his Indians finished third in last week’s King of the Mat at North Davidson High School in Lexington, N.C.

Dante and Dylan Steffenino both knocked off the top-seeds in their brackets en route to gold medals at 103 and 112 pounds, respectively. Teammates Wolfgang McStravick (125), Nate Pompei (160) and Dalton Fleming (189) added fourths as the Indians finished up with 167.5 points and behind only co-champions Parkland (N.C.) and Soddy Daisy (Tenn.) and their 224 points.

Parkland, which has won (or shared) the tournament title four straight years, had seven top-four finishes. Defending state champion Antwan Davis (136 career wins), who edged McStravick by a 12-9 count in the semifinals, took third. The Mustangs have won 193 consecutive duals since 2006-07 and are 253-11 in five seasons under head coach Maurice Atwood.

Soddy Daisy was ranked No. 2 in Tennessee before a 31-30 loss to Christian Brothers just over a week ago dropped the Trojans to No. 4.

The King of the Mat featured 45 teams – 36 from N.C., four from S.C., two from Virginia, and one each from Alabama, Tennessee and, of course, Pennsylvania.

* * *

The Christmas/New Year holiday break means wrestling … and plenty of it. Here’s this week’s menu:

Today and Wednesday: Boyertown in the Bethlehem Holiday Classic at Liberty High School; Pottsgrove in the Xmas City Classic at Bethlehem Catholic High School; and Daniel Boone and Pottstown in the Governor Mifflin Tournament.

Wednesday and Thursday: Methacton and Perkiomen Valley in the Wetzel Invitational at Hatboro-Horsham High School; Owen J. Roberts in the Buckskin Classic at Conestoga Valley High School; Phoenixville in the Tunkahannock Kiwanis Tournament; and Spring-Ford in the Manheim Holiday Tournament.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home