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.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Looking back at wrestling history

This column originally ran in the Dec. 26, 2011, edition of The Mercury.

No one bought me a singlet (Thank God, what a sight that would be); any headgear (no need, brain is already damaged on one side); or a mat (I have no clue for what) for Christmas. I did get two gift cards I cherish the most, one for Wawa (coffee and the workers are the best) and one for Dick's (always stocked with Titliest golf balls), even a high-end surround sound system I was too cheap to buy myself (bless my daughters and their husbands).

But with the wrestling schedule down for the holidays and having a few days off, well, it allowed me to open up the sports files -or the wrestling files, in this instance- to study (for the umpteenth time) and share a little history.

Have fun reading some of the trivia (or insignificant notes only someone like me would find interesting). Also, don't take my personal "Top Fives," the top five wrestlers from each of the area's schools, too seriously considering I compiled the lists in about a half-hour (thus I likely overlooked one of your favorites)-- but the effort was there.

Did you know?

* The area's first postseason champions were Owen J. Roberts' Bill Christman, Jim Kulp and Ron Bean. Although sanctioned postseason wrestling began in 1934 and sectional wrestling began in 1957, it wasn't until 1963 when Christman (138 pounds), Kulp (145) and Bean (165) won their respective weight classes in the Section Three Tournament. Christman was also the area's first two-time postseason champion when he won his second Section Three title the following year (1964).

* Spring-Ford's first two postseason champions included a future Medal of Honor winner. In 1964, after 112-pound Florine "Butch" Mungin won the Rams' first with a gold medal at the Section Three Tournament, teammate Dave Dolby followed suit at 180 pounds. Three years later, Dolby - who died on August 6, 2010 - was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War.

* The first time an area school had four successive champions in a postseason tournament occurred in 1966, when the Section Three finals opened with Bill Lawrence (95), Sandy Sweisford (103), Jim Maack (112) and Charles Lawrence (120) capturing the first four weight classes. The following week, Sweisford became the area's first District 1 champion.

* Mike Meko (1974) and Chris Beasley (1991) are the only two Pottsgrove wrestlers to win sectional, district and regional titles in a single season.

* Perkiomen Valley's only state medalist is Bill Neil, who won the PIAA state title at heavyweight in 1977 - and later played in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

* District 1's first Outstanding Wrestler Award recipient at the PIAA state tournament was Methacton's Chuck Murray (1984).

* Phoenixville's Jason Meister and Pottstown's Seth Ecker are the only area graduates to go on and win national titles in college. Meister, now the head coach at West-Mont Christian, was a two-time NCWA champion (and two-time runner-up) for Baptist Bible. Ecker, currently a junior and Academic All-American at Ithaca College, won an NCAA Division III title last season.

* The best winning percentage among area coaches belongs to the late Nelson Stratton of Methacton, who was 173-31-1 (.844) in 11 seasons. Five of the top eight winning percentages are actually owned by former Methacton coaches - Chris Lloyd (.783 in three seasons); Tony Haley (.688 in two seasons); Dennis Kellon (.686 in 18 seasons); and Bill Moser (.671 in five seasons).

Fab Fives

OK, here we go, the area PIAA-member school's Top Five (listed alphabetically to avoid additional arguments).

Boyertown: Jesse DeWan, Nick Hyatt, Alex Pellicciotti, Fred Rodgers and Mike Spaid (with Jody Munch so close to the bunch). Daniel Boone: John Clemens, Chris Gallino, Mike James, Carmello Marrero and Colin Martucci. Methacton: Jeff Albano, Brad Clark, Dan Covatta, Jon Moser and Chuck Murray. Owen J. Roberts: Aaron Brown, Nick Fuschino, Don Kulp, Jeremy Stierly and Scott Syrek. Perkiomen Valley: Kevin Kehs, Bill Neil, Tim Smith, Steve Van Alsine and Tom Watts. Phoenixville: Tom Bearden, Jeff Below, Mark Cagle, Steve McGovern, and Jason Meister. Pottsgrove: Chris Beasley, T.J. Demetrio, Mike Meko, Ken Norris and Zach Robinson. Pottstown: Joey Allen, Brian Campbell, Seth Ecker, Jeff Green and Paul Green. Spring-Ford: Tom Ingram, Matt Moley, Mike Moley, Jason Shivak and Tim Waller. Upper Perkiomen: Brent Fiorito, Zack Kemmerer, Brad Rozanski, Chris Sheetz, Mark Smith and Derek Zinck (that's six, but I couldn't eliminate one).

The holiday tournament feast picks up again today, but three dates to mark on the new 2012 calendar: Jan. 18 - Owen J. Roberts at Upper Perkiomen; Jan. 25 - Spring-Ford at Upper Perkiomen; and Jan. 28 - Spring-Ford at Owen J. Roberts. The survivor of the 10-day round-robin will in all likelihood win the Pioneer Athletic Conference title.



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