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

Wildcats whopping opposition

This article was originally published in the Jan. 30, 2012, print edition of The Mercury.

What Owen J. Roberts has done this season – actually done in a little over a week – has a lot of wrestling fans talking. That’s fans in the Pioneer Athletic Conference and fans throughout District 1. And who knows, more than a few diehard matheads from around the state are probably talking about the Wildcats, too.

In a period of 11 days, OJR shut down rivals Upper Perkiomen (53-7) and Methacton (59-6), humbled Upper Darby (66-4) in its District 1-AAA Team Duals opener, and put a shellacking on Spring-Ford (52-8) in what was billed as the PAC-10 showdown – and rightfully so – but ended up as anything but.

Four duals against four quality opponents, 56 individual bouts ... and the Wildcats won 50 of them.

That’s impressive.
With undermanned but not-ready-to-roll-over Phoenixville and Pottsgrove remaining on the PAC-10 card, the Wildcats have a very good chance to do something no one has ever done since the league’s inaugural 1986-87 season – limit every opponent to single digits. Those strong Pottstown teams in the late 80s couldn’t do it, neither could any of Spring-Ford’s superb teams in the 90s. Upper Perkiomen failed to do it throughout its incredible nine-year run that ended in 2006. Even Boyertown was a bit more generous during its run the ensuing four years.

That’s even more impressive.
Right now, OJR’s average margin of victory in the PAC-10 is 59.1 points. Ironically, the league record is that exact same number, set in 2006 by Upper Perkiomen (against eight opponents, because Lansdale Catholic didn’t have a wrestling team at that time).

To say the Wildcats are good, or very good, would be an understatement, of course. Heck, one fan leaving the Spring-Ford High School gymnasium after Saturday’s matinee said “(Owen J. Roberts is) the best team (he’d) ever seen around here.”

For now – repeat, for now – that may be a bit of a stretch.

In other words, no one should get ahead of themselves. Even OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo would plead the fifth if questioned about that issue.

What the Wildcats have right now are movers-and-shakers, an aggressive gang ... all guts and no guile. They have a leader in Mike Lenge, who along with Andrew Kinney and Jim Warta, are the lone seniors to step on the mat this season. They also have what arguably is the most talented freshman class to ever come through this area – a group of freshmen who push those three seniors as well as every junior and sophomore in between – which provides a little insight as to how long the Wildcats could be good.

But just how good the Wildcats will be by season’s end – repeat, by season’s end – has yet to be determined.

Yes, they seem to have a lock on the PAC-10 title.

They want more, though.
The District 1-AAA Team Duals title is well within their reach, but they’ll have to get past Council Rock South, which has won three of the last five titles, in Friday’s quarterfinals; then either Rustin or Marple-Newtown in the semifinals before heading to bed for the night. Saturday, in all likelihood, they’ll get pin-machine Norristown in the final. That won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination. It never is at this point, otherwise more than three area teams – Methacton, Upper Perkiomen and Boyertown – would have the coveted hardware in their respective trophy cases.

So while fans continue to talk the talk, the Wildcats are hoping, and determined, to walk the walk.

* * *
Talking about some of the best, and having a little fun with it – put Upper Perkiomen’s lineup from the PIAA Duals final (a lopsided win over Easton) up against Owen J. Roberts’ lineup from Saturday’s match against Spring-Ford. … The weight classes are different, of course, but going head-to-head with no juggling, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch – at least on paper – to see each team having an edge in five bouts with four toss-ups. It would be interesting to hear what Upper Perkiomen’s Brent Fiorito and OJR’s Robert Hoffman had to say about it, though. Fiorito, who rolled up a major on Hoffman in the Indians’ 68-0 shutout of the Wildcats dual that season, went on to become the state champion at 160, while Hoffman finished seventh in the state at 152. Both are currently assistant coaches for their alma maters.

* * *
Feeling slighted? Pottsgrove’s Nico Demetrio may be. The 132-pound sophomore has recently won two tournaments and is 21-3 overall, but still ranked below No. 3 Demetri D’Orsaneo of Owen J. Roberts, No. 2 Trent Clifford of Pottstown, and No. 1 Wolfgang McStravick of Upper Perkiomen. Ironically, turn that order around and that’s who Demetrio – who has won 15 of his last 16 bouts – may be seeing before the regular season ends because Upper Perkiomen, Pottstown and OJR are up next on the Falcons’ schedule.

* * *
Rambling on… McStravick, a junior, is 21-1 (with 92 career wins). His lone loss was 5-3 to North Carolina state champion Chris Caton of Northside Christian two days before Christmas in the finals of the King of the Mat Tournament in N.C. ... Clifford and Pottstown teammate Rashaad Lighty have won 22 and 15 in a row, respectively. ... Pottsgrove’s Danny Michaels has won 18 straight. ... Two of the most versatile talents this winter have been OJR’s Brad Trego and Perkiomen Valley’s Chris Kline. Trego has been an integral part of the Wildcats’ run at 220 and 285, while Kline has worked anywhere from 170 up through 195 and won 12 of his last 13. ... One of the postseason’s most anticipated matchups – or rematches – could be at 152 between OJR’s Kyle Shronk (22-6) and Boyertown’s Jon Neiman (25-3). Shronk beat Neiman in a 3-1 thriller back on Jan. 4. Of the two rivals’ combined nine losses, five have come against state-ranked opponents.



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