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

Sizing up the wrestling competition

This column originally ran in the Jan. 9, 2012 edition of The Mercury.

Like a lot of coaches in the Pioneer Athletic Conference and around District 1, Spring-Ford's Tim Seislove has been keeping both eyes on Owen J. Roberts' wrestling results this winter. But when he hears all the talk about how his own team could challenge the Wildcats for the PAC-10 championship, maybe even a district duals title, well, those words fall on deaf ears.

"Owen J. Roberts is heads and tails the best team in our district," Seislove said. "Owen J. Roberts and Norristown are above everyone else. Then you can throw about 10 other teams in the hat and take your choice."

A lot of people have indeed had an eye on unbeaten OJR, which has a wealth of talent and depth, or enough to make a run at a second straight league championship and, quite possibly, that district dual title.

But regardless of what Seislove says, or refuses to hear, the Rams haven't been able to escape the spotlight, either. Their quick start, 12 straight wins before a 38-28 loss to District 3-Class AA's top-ranked Biglerville in last Saturday's final of the Canner Duals, is the big reason, too.

The Rams have gotten the expected punch from their lightweights, a group of veterans that features Chase Brown, Sean Hennessey, Jimmy Stong, brothers Adam and Jason Dombrosky and Jesse Quave from 113 up through 145 pounds. But they're also getting some unexpected jabs from the upper portion of the lineup, namely Jon Cooper, Dan Dipipi, Tyler McGuigan and Dan Lawrence at 152, 160, 170 and 182, respectively. And they're slowly getting more and more consistency from Mason Romano, Josh Boyer and Zach Dorsey, two sophomores and a junior, who usually occupy the final three spots in the lineup.

"We're happy where we're at," Seislove said. "We're 12-1, so we can't complain."

But ...

"In wrestling, records can be very deceiving. It's one sport you can't look at records, and everyone should know that. We haven't wrestled the toughest schedule. We have wrestled some tough teams that, in the beginning, I felt we had a good shot at beating if we wrestled well."

The Rams have, for the record, wrestled quite well thus far. They've beaten, rather handily, four upper-level District 1 teams at the Abington Duals, crushed a couple of PAC-10 opponents, and had a good run at the Canner Duals, defeating longtime District 11-AA challenger Pine Grove, stuffing Southern Columbia, and topping Wyomissing, the No. 7 team in District 3-AA, before the setback to Biglerville.

The long road trips are over for now, with seven PAC-10 matches ahead of them.

"Traveling isn't anything new because (former head coach) Pat Nugent started doing that years ago here," Seislove said. "It's important to find good competition, the kind of that's your (own program's) top competition. You try to build a schedule, a tough schedule, with teams you can be competitive with.

"But now we have the meat of our schedule ahead of us. Nothing's easy in the PAC-10, and then you have the district duals in between those matches."

Spring-Ford will not overlook its next three opponents: Pottsgrove, Pottstown and Perkiomen Valley. But then there's a trip to Upper Perkiomen on Wednesday, Jan. 25; the opening round of district duals the following night; and, just two days later, the showdown with visiting Owen J. Roberts.

And don't forget the closing fireworks with Methacton and Boyertown.

"We're improving. We're getting better," Seislove said. "But our big concern is staying healthy. We have quite a few freshmen, a lot of inexperienced kids in the lineup, especially up top. They're good kids who work hard. But we have to stay healthy.

"You have to understand that we don't have any superstars. We don't have one kid who I can say is definitely going to go to states. We don't have any standouts, no superstars. But we do have good, hard-working kids."

Enough to everyone else around the PAC-10 and District 1 rather interested.

Frankie Krauss (145/152), Cooper and Dorsey are three freshmen getting a lot of mat time for Seislove. Dipipi, Mike Spohr (182) and McGuigan, an impressive 19-5 thus far, spent most of last season with the junior varsity. Lawrence blew his knee out early last year and missed most of the season, while Romano, a sophomore, opted to return to wrestling after sitting out his freshman year.

Upper Perkiomen returning state qualifier Wolfgang McStravick didn't wrestle the final day of last weekend's Battlefield Duals down in Va., after suffering a mild concussion the previous night. He is expected back in the lineup sometime this week.

The most improved team since the start of the season? Methacton, hands down. The Warriors have won their last two tournaments -the Wetzel Classic and Octorara Duals- and are 10-2 overall.

Owen J. Roberts has seven of the preliminary Top 10 seeds for this weekend's rugged Escape The Rock Tournament at Council Rock South, quickly becoming one of the top events in Pennsylvania if not the entire East Coast. Andrew Kinney (145), who'll go for his 100th career win Wednesday night against Perkiomen Valley, drew No. 6; freshman Demetrio D'Orsaneo (132), Kyle Shronk (152) and James Warta (195) drew seventh seeds; and freshman Derek Gulotta (113), Colby Frank (126) and Mike Lenge (160) are all 10th seeds.

Boyertown senior Jon Neiman needs two wins for 100 and should reach the milestone Saturday at the Cumberland Valley Duals.

Pottstown will recognize all Trojan wrestling alumni prior to its Wednesday, January 18th match against Phoenixville. The festivities including honoring the program for reaching 500 dual meets. All alumni are asked to arrive at the high school at 5:30 p.m. for food and beverages. The presentation begins at 6:25. Alumni planning to attend should contact head coach Jamie Gill at

For those who haven't already heard, the PIAA state tournament will undergo a major change in March. And if anyone thought the new weight classes were a joke, the final day of states -- Saturday, March 10, to be exact -- may be an absolute comedy, but no one will be laughing.

The normal schedule featuring consolation finals for the seventh, fifth and third places on three mats followed by the championship finals on one mat is no more. That's right, no more. The new format (take a deep breath now) is all finals, consolations as well as the championships in each weight class, will be wrestled simultaneously, Class AA at two in the afternoon and Class AAA at seven that night.

Seems as though someone lost their headgear and got slammed a few times.

According to PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi, the change is the result of the three-day tournament ending way too late, which it does (usually around 11 p.m.). There is a genuine concern for kids on the road that late and about the costs of hotels/motels for an additional night in the Hershey area.

Lombardi's concerns are warranted, and no one in the PIAA office has ever been as supportive of wrestling as Lombardi has for the past twentysome years

However, Pennsylvania is among the best states (if not the best) in wrestling. In a sport that battles year in and year out for respect, this is one particular move from its own governing body that undermines that fight. A few other states have been going with the "all-finals-together" format, but who cares. This is Pennsylvania, be the best -- or, as one former state champion said, "set the trend."



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