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

Pottsgrove’s Robinson now halfway to reaching goals

This column originally ran in the Dec. 21, 2010 edition of The Pottstown Mercury

Zach Robinson had two specific goals when he strolled into Pottsgrove’s practice room as a highly touted freshman – 100 wins and a spot in the PIAA Championships out in Hershey.

One down … one to go.

The senior pinned down his 100th career win last Saturday when he decked Central Bucks South’s Eddie Keegan at the 1:24 mark in the second round of the West Chester East Tournament. Earlier, he opened his season by running up a technical fall and, following his milestone win, added two more pins and a major decision to capture the 145-pound gold medal.

“The 100 wins mean a lot to me,” Robinson said. “There aren’t many wrestlers from Pottsgrove who have done it. It’s

been an honor working for it, and I’m more than happy to finally get there.

“It’s something I’ve been shooting for since my freshman year, that and wanting to be in Hershey. I’m still working on the second part, but this will give me some confidence.”

Robinson admits he’s been a slow-starter. As a freshman, he opened 9-2 before winning 19 of his next 21. As a sophomore, he was just 6-4 before taking 22 of his next 23. Last season, he was 9-3 before stringing together 20 in a row.

Handling the punting and placekicking chores for Pottsgrove’s football team all three years may have had something to do with those slow starts, especially considering the Falcons went deep into the postseason all three years.

“I was a sophomore when Jordan Klinger was (the football team’s) kicker. But Jordan hurt his knee real bad in soccer and I just went out and said, ‘Let me try a couple.’ Lo and behold, coach (Rick) Pennypacker said OK and I was the kicker.”

Robinson, who punted very well, didn’t realize he booted his way over the 100-point career mark this season and finished with a school record 127 kick-scoring points.

Now, a 100-100 double…

Interesting, and obviously rare among high school athletes who kick the football as well as kick around on a wrestling mat. But there’s still that issue of getting to Hershey.

“I don’t have an answer if my slow starts are due to football,” Robinson said. “I do know I’m a little rusty in the beginning (of wrestling). I do some camps in summer, but I don’t get a lot of matches. So I guess it’s a little tricky for me to hit all my stuff early on. It’s made for some rocky starts.

“I know this year I felt it because the first week or week and a half in the room was really hard. I was always feeling out of breath. After that first week went by I felt OK, though. I feel I’m getting in shape now. I also realize now why we did all that running so much.”

Robinson hopes to get on another long run, on the mats.

And he hopes this last lap goes considerably further than in the past. He has two section titles, a pair of fourths at districts, and two forgettable regional appearances (2-4 overall). Passing the 100-win mark – which puts him well within reach of former Pottsgrove standout Chris Beasley (112) and tied with Ryan Michaels (103) on the school’s career win chart – is already in the book. He hopes to add considerably more to get on board for that coveted trip to Hershey in March.

“I established those two goals as a freshman,” Robinson recalled. “Looking back maybe I tried too hard. But not getting (to states) has been more than frustration. I’ve had some really tough moments after the last two years at regionals.

“But now I’m focused on one thing. I’ve gotten 100, so that’s over with now and I’m happy about that. So I’m really focused on that other goal … getting to states.”


Robinson was one of Pottsgrove’s three individual champions and nine medalists overall at the W.C. East Tournament. Also capturing gold were Danny Michaels (160) and Tyler Wysochanski (189) – two other starters on the Falcons’ football team. Michaels, a junior, and freshman brother Riley Michaels (third at 125), are both younger brothers of Ryan Michaels, who went on to become a three-time NCWA All-American at RPI.


The Mercury’s first team and individual rankings appear today. Spring-Ford and its very balanced as well as experienced lineup, which finished second at the Southeast Classic and dropped just one of five matches at the Wilson Brawl last weekend, debuts at No. 1. Owen J. Roberts and defending PAC-10 champion Boyertown follow in the second and third spots, respectively, followed by Upper Perkiomen and Perkiomen Valley to close out the Fab Five.

Individually, it’s pretty much a poke-and-hope putting everyone in the first through third slots at this early stage. But among the big surprises heading into the Christmas break – as short as it may be for wrestling – are Spring-Ford’s Sean Hennessey (11-0 at 119), and Daniel Boone teammates Liam Gibbons (10-1 at 130) and Ken Bock (10-0 at 189).

The area’s toughest brackets thus far appear to be 103 with Boyertown’s Ed Kriczky (10-3), Upper Perkiomen’s Dante Steffenino (7-1) and Hill School’s Chad Saunders (7-2); 145 with Robinson, Perkiomen Valley’s Gavin Milligan (8-0) and Methacton’s Pat Carr (5-0); and 189, with Bock, Boyertown’s Zach Heffner (8-3), Methacton’s Eliot Reisz (1-0) and three others.


Boyertown’s Tyler Mauger, who has little if any problems making weight at 189, moved up to 215 when teammate Zach Heffner moved down for last weekend’s Beast of the East Classic. But the luxury of taking a few extra bites of food for a few days isn’t quite like the taste of a medal … any medal, that is, at the Beast.

Mauger, who this past fall played much bigger and considerably more physical than his listed height and weight in helping the Bears to a share of the PAC-10 football championship, won four straight bouts to get into Sunday’s semifinals. Surprise? Better believe it was considering he had about two weeks in the practice room to soothe the aches and pains, make the transition from tackles to takedowns, and to build up his endurance. And then moving up and giving up more than a handful or two of pounds in arguably the toughest high school tournament in the country?

As it turned out, he was denied a spot in the final by Kyle Snyder, who just may be the nation’s next upperweight phenom. The Good Counsel (Md.) freshman – that’s right, freshman – not only beat him 14-6, but went on to blank Garnet Valley’s defending champion and nationally ranked Matt Idelson, 3-0, in the final. Prior to last weekend, Snyder’s high school debut included two tournament wins at the Ray Oliver Invitational and the War at the Shore.


The three area teams at the Beast – Boyertown (28-25), The Hill School (8-14) and Owen J. Roberts (17-24) – went a combined 53-63 in individual bouts. Though nothing to really shout home about, the Bears got at least one win from all 12 of their wrestlers; OJR got wins from nine of its dozen entries; and Hill – which sent a portion of its lineup to the West Chester East Tournament – got at least one win from four of its seven wrestlers.

Boyertown – which was presented the Team Sportsmanship Award – has now had at least one medalist at the Beast of the East six straight years.


John Staudenmayer became Plymouth-Whitemarsh’s first Beast champion after taking the gold at 171. Staudenmayer capped the weekend with a second-period near fall and third-period reversal for a 4-2 decision in the final. Not only does he become Colonials’ first champion, but the program’s first medalist since Shane Vocht finished fourth at 125 back in 1999. Even two-time state champion Justin Giovinco was never able to close the deal, settling for a pair of runner-up finishes in 1997-98.


If there was a Beast OW it would have to go to 189-pound James Fox of St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.). Unseeded, Fox stunned two-time defending champion and Ohio State-bound Kenny Courts of Central Dauphin, 2-1 in overtime, during the semifinals. Fox added another win in Sunday afternoon’s final for the gold medal.


Council Rock South got a first place from Danny Martoccio (103) and second from Trey Balasco (112) and had seven medalists overall to finish sixth among 41 teams at last weekend’s King of the Mountain brawl. The Golden Hawks were without returning state medalist Billy Rappo – out with an injured hand – who is District 1’s only nationally ranked wrestler (eighth at 103). … Easton appears back in its dominating stance after winning last weekend’s Reno Tournament of Champions out in Nevada. Mitch Minotti dominated at 145 (two pins, technical fall, two majors and 3-0 shutout in the final), and Jalal Paige bounced back from an opening-round loss with eight straight wins to take third at 285 to headline seven medalists. Easton put up 171 points to outdistance Tulsa Union (Tex.) and Roseburg (Ore.), which were second and third, respectively, with 151.5 and 143.5 points. … The nation’s No. 1 ranked team, Apply Valley (Minn.), won its fourth consecutive team title and 13 overall at last weekend’s Minnesota Christmas Tournament. The champions were led by seventh-grader Mark Hall, who won at 130, and Destin McCauley, who became the first four-time champion in the 24-year history of the event, at 152.


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