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, February 14, 2012

Congratulations, not criticism, for OJR

Moments after Owen J. Roberts won the District 1-AAA Team Duals title two weeks ago, the critics began weighing in on the district’s great teams of the past and comparing them all. And before Owen J. Roberts even stepped on the mat for last Thursday night’s opener in the PIAA Team Duals out in Hershey, the critics began chirping how it was a team that couldn’t do this and couldn’t do that on the state level.

What the you-know-what ever happened to that one simple word, you know, congratulations (remember that one?), and just letting it go at that?

I may be wrong, but it would seem the 14 wrestlers who put their heart and soul into it – as well as all their lesser-known but just as important teammates who pushed them in the practice room – had earned the simplest of props.

But stray a step out of Bucktown, run into one fan or a gang of them from a neighboring or distant school district, and the occasional compliment may be difficult to hear above all the negativity.

Or might that just be envy?
Student-athletes strive to be the best they can be. Most do anyway, and most play or compete to win. Talent alone doesn’t win championships. That’s been proven time and time again, in all sports. But a little talent, an unwavering work ethic, and some fire in the belly is hard to beat. That’s also been proven time and time again, in all sports ... including wrestling.

Owen J. Roberts, with its collection of just-above-average, tireless blue-collar working and highly-motivated wrestlers, proved how hard it was to beat this winter. From the first weekend of December all the way up until last weekend, Owen J. Roberts proved it was the best team in District 1 and one of the best teams – arguably among the eight best – in all of Pennsylvania for the 2011-2012 season.

Acknowledge it. Accept it.
And instead of finding some sort of consolation by comparing this Owen J. Roberts team to your favorite team or some power from the past, applaud it.

There is always enough time to reflect back on the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s best teams, always enough time to look back and talk about District 1’s and Pennsylvania’s best teams. Making comparisons – and drawing up those fantasy matches – is fine, actually fun to do.

Like looking back six years ago, Upper Perkiomen won district and state duals with what most consider the most talented lineup in the history of District 1, a lineup that ranks right up there among the best ever in Pennsylvania. Like looking back at the Cheltenhams in the 30s and 40s; the Council Rocks and Phoenixvilles in the 70s; the Downingtowns, Neshaminys, North Penns and Pottstowns in the 80s, and all those other Upper Perkiomens, Norristowns, Council Rocks Souths and Boyertown since...

But all those teams did their thing then, not now.

For now, for this recently completed dual-meet season, Owen J. Roberts was the best ... in the PAC-10 and in District 1.

For that, and for that only, the Wildcats – along with head coach Steve DeRafelo and his staff – all deserve a “Congratulations.”

* * *
Some notes from the state duals: Canon-McMillan, as expected, won its first AAA title. The Macs defeated four-time defending champion Central Dauphin (28-25) in the semifinals, then stopped surprising Erie McDowell (35-20) for the championship. Central Dauphin, which had its all-time, state-record 95-match winning streak snapped in the semifinal setback, ended up finishing third. ... Bethlehem Catholic, as expected, won its second straight AA title. ... Mechanicsburg, which finished fourth, had an interesting final week and a half. The Wildcats faced three straight unbeaten teams – losing to Central Dauphin in the District 3-AAA final, then topped both Central Mountain and Owen J. Roberts in the first two rounds of states. ... A total of 25 matches were decided by 12 points or less – 14 in AAA and 11 in AA.

* * *
The second season gets under way Saturday with the district’s six sectionals. Phoenixville and Upper Perkiomen will be at Pottsgrove for Section Two; Methacton and Perkiomen Valley will be at Hatboro-Horsham for Section Three; and Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford will be at Boyertown for Section Four. ... Daniel Boone, after a near three-week layoff, will be at Governor Mifflin as part of the 12-team field for the District 3-AAA Section Four Tournament. ... The Hill School travels to Episcopal Academy on Friday for the start of the two-day state prep tournament.

* * *
Perkiomen Valley hosted its 14th annual Viking Invitational last weekend and Spring-Ford Gold, on the strength of four individual champions and 15 medalists overall, captured the team title (264.5). Boyertown East, which also had four individual champions and 11 medalists, was second (204). Easton (178.5), Quakertown (144.5) and Boyertown West (141) rounded out the top five in the 16-team field.

Spring-Ford Gold got gold from Matt Krieble (110 pounds), Will Meredith (130), Steve Rice (145) and Danny Krieble (165), while teammates Hunter Mitch (100), Jimmy Frank (105) and Matt Goodrich (210) settled for runner-up honors. Boyertown East’s champions were Lucas Miller (100), Gregg Harvey (138), Jordan Wood (210) and Zack Davis (275), with J.T. Cooley (110) and Mike Fretz (165) settling for seconds, Crosstown rival Boyertown West got gold from Garrett Mauger (95) and tournament OW Lance Kokonas (155), and seconds from Matt Wilde (75) and Andrew Fronheiser (130).

Pottstown, which had a strong showing and finished sixth, had two champions in Logan Pennypacker (85) and Bryant Wise (122), and two runners-up in Mason Pennypacker (95) and Bubba Gephart (115).

Arcola (Bryce Reddington at 85), Upper Perkiomen (Jake Folk at 90), Phoenixville (Max Sheperd at 80 and Mark Cermanski at 122), and Spring-Ford Blue (Danny Kelchner at 185) all had runners-up as well.



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