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 4, 2011

Best from preps earned their own Top Ten list

This column originally ran in the March 1, 2011 edition of The Mercury.

A lot was happening last week, actually just last weekend. And shortly after it was all over, there was way, way too much to talk about, or at least way, way too much to do a pick-this-one or pick-that-one as above all others.

Of course everyone has their favorite tale to tell (over and over again), and there were absolutely more than a handful or two of achievements worthy of highlighting. Take your pick from all of them that came out of national prep championships and four district tournaments, and good luck condensing them into a Top 10.

Come to think of it, we did that last week … so let’s do it again.

1. Hill School freshman Chad Saunders, a native of New Hope, finished second at the National Prep Championships up at Lehigh. It isn’t too often a freshman gets into a national final, unless you happen to be wearing a Blair Academy singlet, that is. The 103-pound Saunders did it with a 52-second pin, an 8-0 shutout of the No. 7 seed, and a pin of the No. 3 seed. His bid for the gold was denied by top-seeded Joseph McKenna

(from Blair, of course), who had five pins — four in 47 seconds or less — in his five matches. Saunders, the Hill program’s best finisher in 10 years, also matched his father Jay Saunders’ finish when he too was a runner-up for none other than Blair Academy.

2. Owen J. Roberts won its school’s first District 1-AAA South team title. That was something very few expected going in, and even fewer thought was possible at the halfway mark when all but Andrew Kinney (golden at 145) dropped into the consolations. But seven came all the way back to get a medal, including two – the under-appreciated John Bryant and the under-sized Mike Lenge – to join Kinney at this week’s Southeast Regional.

3. Pottstown rookie head coach Jamie Gill and Pope John Paul II rookie head coach Seldon Staples put a combined six wrestlers on the top step of the awards platform at the District 1-AA Tournament. Despite the experts’ annual analysis that AA titles carry little credibility, try selling that to Pottstown’s Zane Bechtel, Trent Clifford, Jasheel Brown, Darien Hain and Rashaad Lighty, or to Pope John Paul’s Conor Myers, or for that matter PJP’s other two medalists (Tyler Rogers and John Cherneskie). Anyone with any matter in their cerebellum realizes one’s dedication and work ethic doesn’t really vary from AA to AAA, nor does the gratification of winning a district title or medal.

4. Depending on what time your watch said, Boyertown’s Jeremy Minich became just the eighth four-time district champion in the documented 77-year history of District 1 wrestling. Minich, who pound-for-pound may be wrestling as well as anyone from the PAC-10 the past two weeks, was joined in that elite group later Saturday night by three others who competed in the District 1-AAA North Tournament. Minich is the first from the area to achieve the milestone in AAA and second overall (joining Pottstown’s Seth Ecker in AA). And when you throw out some of the Boyertown biggies who never did go four-for-four, well, it sure is quite an accomplishment.

5. The “I’ll Be Back” efforts of Spring-Ford’s Sean Hennessey, Upper Perkiomen’s Kyle Fellman, Owen J. Roberts’ Colby Frank, Spring-Ford’s Jesse Quave, Owen J. Roberts’ Gordon Bolig, and Boyertown’s Pardovani Dominque. All six dropped their first bouts at districts last week, but regrouped, medaled and earned a spot in the AAA Southeast Regional.

6. Fives are wild — or the number of regional qualifiers for coaches Pete Ventresca of Boyertown, Tim Seislove of Spring-Ford, and Tom Hontz of Upper Perkiomen. Ventresca had to battle through a crippling series of illnesses and injuries near the end of the regular season; Seislove had to deal with the unfortunate loss of two likely regional qualifiers because of a disciplinary issue and illness; and Hontz, well, the one fella who some continue to find it amusing to criticize him when he doesn’t win everything, still managed a Top Five finish in the brutal District 1-AAA North battle to get a handful of regional qualifiers. … And an honorable mention in this spot goes to Pottsgrove’s Jeff Madden, who has his own Tour of Four heading to Oxford.

7. Methacton’s Brandan Clark remains focused. The 215-pound Clark, 37-2 with 26 pins while locked in arguably one of the most talent-deep weight classes in the district (and the state), has 139 career wins going into this weekend’s regional. He needs six more to tie former state champion and three-time state medalist Dan Covatta’s school record (145) … and that six would mean another state medal for the relentless senior.

8. A big “Welcome Again” to the Top 10 for Mr. Dominque. The 215-pound senior, who never stepped foot on a wrestling mat until this season – or shortly after arriving here from his native Haiti – finished third at the District 1-AAA South Tournament. Sure doesn’t look as though the 17-year-old gem of a young man balked at learning the most basic fundamentals or gave anything less than 100 percent of himself to the sport. Hopefully, the politicians will put in half that effort and approve his application for a student visa extension so he fulfill his dream of attending college to become a doctor (and not order him back to his earthquake-ravaged home where illness and violence continue to shake the country more than the fatal tremors did a year ago).

9. The Pioneer Athletic Conference advancing 31 of its wrestlers to the AAA regional. It isn’t any record number, mind you, but it’s far and above the number most – including one particular member of the media – expected. And within those numbers are two sets of brothers – Owen J. Roberts’ Adam and Jordan Moser, and Upper Perkiomen’s Dante and Dylan Steffenino.

10. Former North Penn head coach and Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee Ed Klavon celebrated his 80th birthday Monday. For a man who did as much as anyone to earn District 1 some respect from the Pennsylvania wrestling hierarchy, that deserves a spot in any Top 10.


It’ll be a reunion of sorts Friday night for six area wrestlers, who’ll face off against one another in the first round of regionals. At 119, it’ll be Frank and Fellman; at 152, it’ll be Boyertown’s Jon Neiman and Pottsgrove’s T.J. Demetrio; and at 160, it’ll be Bolig and Pottsgrove’s Danny Michaels.


Spring-Ford’s Matt Krueger (99) and Owen J. Roberts’ Jonathan Dempsey (98) are within reach of the 100 career wins milestone this weekend. … Clark is now 16th on the Mercury Area’s all-time win chart, and Minich (132) is tied for 24th. … Pottsgrove’s Zach Robinson extended his school-record total to 126 last weekend. … Other area regional qualifiers already over the 100-win mark are Phoenixville’s Ken Cenci (104), Methacton’s Rob D’Annunzio (103) and Demetrio (103).



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