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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

OJR in Beast mode

This column originally ran in the Dec. 19, 2011, edition of The Mercury.

They call it the "Beast", short for the Beast of the East for a reason. It's unquestionably a demanding and exhausting two days of wrestling as any other. And any other includes the mighty Iron Man in Ohio, the Reno Tournament of Champions out in Nevada, the Minnesota Christmas Tournament up near the Twin Cities and, of course, Pennsylvania’s own PowerAde at Trinity High School.

The "Beast" provides the ultimate challenge for a wrestler because of the mental preparation needed before even stepping on the mats, and the physical endurance required to return to those mats time and time again .. for as many as seven, eight or more bouts in a single weekend.

And to think the test unfolds on a stage that features as much if not more individual talent than anyone may ever see in one setting during their entire career.

So when the Owen J. Roberts entourage got back into Bucktown early Sunday night with a bunch of filled-out brackets but not a single medal, head coach Steve DeRafelo wasn't whimpering, weeping or whining.

Like many before him, including Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals Pete Ventresca of Boyertown, Tim Seislove of Spring-Ford and Tom Hontz of Upper Perkiomen, all of whom can relate to the "Beast" experience, DeRafelo realized it may not be the medals as much as the mettle, or the resolve, that counts most during those two very grueling winter days in Delaware.

The bottom line is that no other inindividual or dual tournament, or practice room routine on any given weekend, will help the Wildcats better prepare for the grind that lies ahead of them ※ and better prepare them to deal with all the lofty expectations.

"I thought we had a pretty good showing," DeRafelo said. "You think about how a lot of our kids lost right away, but (all but two) of them came back to get at least one win. I thought we did pretty well."

DeRafelo and his staff focused on and worked on the moves made as well as the moves not necessarily made over the weekend when everyone returned to the practice room Monday afternoon, and they likely worked on reinforcing that resolve.

The Wildcats, all 14 of them, went a combined 23-28 at the "Beast." Not bad considering a couple of very promising freshman lightweights still weren't in the lineup. Not bad at all considering unbeaten upperweight Nick DeAngelo watched instead of wrestled when a couple of teammates moved down a weight class and squeezed him out of the lineup. And when considering they finished 21st among ninetysome teams.

"Like I said, a pretty good showing," DeRafelo reiterated. "The only team from (District 1) who finished better than us was Norristown (15th), but that's a team with five or six lights-out studs. In a tournament like (the "Beast") you're going to do well with that many outstanding individuals.

"We're just not a tournament team. We don't have a lot of studs. We don't have anyone who medaled at states. But we have what I feel is a very good dual-meet team. So to finish 21st .. our kids did well."

One Wildcat in particular who did well was Demetri D'Orsaneo, who has as promising credentials as any freshman to roll through OJR in recent memory. The 132-pounder knocked off two seeded opponents, including a state champion and state runner-up, in a three-bout run Saturday that put him in the quarterfinals. But then he got tutored by Blair Academy's nationally ranked Mark Grey, who not only won his fourth straight "Beast" title but the OW award as well.

Another solid showing came from 126-pound teammate Colby Frank who didn't look at all like the freshman regional qualifier of a year ago during the season-opening Bear Duals, but who responded with four wins and, like D'Orsaneo, came oh so close to getting into the medal rounds. And DeRafelo had to be pleased with newcomer Jim Warta, who moved down to 195 and went 3-2.

"A lot of our kids stepped up their game a lot," DeRafelo said.

Quote of the Week comes from Pittsburgh Central Catholic's 195-pound "Beast" champion Perry Hills, the Vikings' star quarterback who has committed to Maryland: "Every quarterback should wrestle," Hills told InterMat when talking about the mental and physical toughness of the sport.

OJR's Andrew Kinney is the area's winningest active wrestler with 92 career wins going into this week. Boyertown's Jon Neiman is one back with 91 after going 7-0 and winning his 160-pound bracket at the Jarvis Memorial Tournament last weekend. Teammate Eddie Kriczky (126) was also golden at the tournament. Also closing in on the 100-win milestone are Upper Perkiomen's Wolfgang McStravick (78) and Spring-Ford's Chase Brown (75).

It was an interesting weekend for Easton head coach Steve Powell, a Henderson graduate. Powell guided his Rovers to a third-place finish at the Reno Tournament of Champions and also got to watch his former three-time state champion and current defending NCAA champion Jordan Oliver put on a clinic. The Oklahoma State junior had five straight first-period pins (in a ridiculous total time of 5:44) to win the 133-pound title and OW honors in the college portion of the Reno T of C.

With most schools out for the holidays, college wrestling was light last week. But No. 5 Penn State (4-1) leveled Lock Haven, 50-0, on Sunday. The Eagles' Zach Heffner, a freshman out of Boyertown, was tech-falled by defending national champion Quentin Wright at 184. Davidson's Ben Hartshorn (Conestoga) dropped to 6-7 on the season after losing a decision at 141 pounds in the Wildcats 27-19 setback to Ohio Northern. And Drexel, with Nick Becattini (Conestoga) falling 8-3 at 184 pounds, nudged Northern Colorado, 26-11.



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