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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Neiman a class act

Originally published in the Feb. 27 edition of The Mercury

Boyertown’s Jon Neiman, top, exhibited takes Tommy DiSanti down during a 13-2 major decision in the 152-pound finals.

Jon Neiman was a class act Saturday night, just as he’s been throughout his high school career on the wrestling mat and out on the football field.

Moments after receiving his gold medal for winning the 152-pound weight class during the District 1-Class AAA South Tournament at Spring-Ford High School, the Boyertown senior started talking about rival Kyle Shronk of Owen J. Roberts, then about his Boyertown teammates, then – finally – about himself.

What a shame this current generation of so-called primetime me-me-me pro athletes didn’t have an opportunity to listen in.

Neiman had at last won a postseason tournament. Yes, he wrestled his way through the sections and districts as a sophomore and junior, even qualified for state’s last March. And yes, he was well over celebrating the moment he hit the 100-win career mark this year, too.

But what Neiman never had was a gold medal from any of the previous eight postseason tournaments he participated in until Saturday night.

And his first comment after stepping off the top rung of the awards podium? “That’s a real shame about Shronk.”

Shronk was on a roll, winning 16 of his last 18 bouts by pin – the only two not by pin coming against Neiman – and looked to be a serious contender to not only get to states but medal as well.

So, if there was anyone who would have a legitimate excuse not to talk about Shronk, or about anyone who happens to compete in an Owen J. Roberts singlet, for that matter, it would be Neiman.

Back on Jan. 4, during their highly anticipated Pioneer Athletic Conference match, Shronk used an early takedown for the difference in a 3-1 win over Neiman. Just over a week ago, during their equally anticipated rematch in the Section Four final, Shronk held on for a 7-6 decision over Neiman. Those two losses account for half of Neiman’s setbacks this season – the first was 4-2 to Governor Mifflin’s Mike Shermot on opening day of the season (when Neiman was making the transition from football to wrestling), and the other one was right after Christmas, 3-1 to state-ranked Rustin Barrick of Mechanicsburg.

So if that alone didn’t have Neiman seeing red, as in the red glare of OJR’s singlets and mass of followers up in the stands, knowing he lost three straight postseason meetings a year ago to the Wildcats’ Jordan Moser sure did. Moser beat him in the section final and then in both the district and regional consolation finals last season before graduating.

But it sure seemed like another Neiman-Shronk brawl was in the making this past weekend, at least until Shronk injured his shoulder during Saturday’s semifinals and had to default out of the tournament, ending his otherwise sparkling season.

“I really thought we’d go at it again and both of us would end up at states,” Neiman said. “Just a real shame.”

Then it was time to talk about his teammates. Not just district runners-up Gray and Chase Garber nor fellow district champion Jordan Wertz, but the entire Boyertown gang that was so vastly improved from those woeful warriors in the beginning of the season. They finished third in the PAC-10, then a very surprising third in the District 1-AAA South Tournament.

“From the beginning of the season until now, I’d say we improved more than any team I’ve seen,” Neiman said. “I guess it was sort of a surprise for me. I knew we’d eventually prove ourselves, but everyone worked hard to do it. That’s the great part of it.”

Anything about Neiman, though?
“I finally won first in something,” he mumbled. “It feels good to get the gold (medal).”

Talk about a lack of class?
One critic called the District 1-AAA South’s 195-pound weight class “the weakest I have ever seen in my life.” Another wrote the bracket was “abysmal.”

Makes you wonder if they would’ve said or wrote the same thing if their own son had won that gold medal Saturday night. Absolutely not.

Congratulations to Boyertown’s Jordan Wertz, who could’ve easily attempted to go at a lower weight and gotten eliminated in wrestle-offs by one of the Garber brothers ... then relaxed and enjoyed three meals a day over the past two weeks.

Congratulations are also in order for Upper Perkiomen’s Wolfgang McStravick and Pottsgrove’s Danny Michaels for reaching the 100-win mark last weekend over at Quakertown; to Pottstown’s Rob McCoy, Trenton Clifford, Darien Hain and Rashaad Lighty for capturing District 1-Class AA titles last weekend in their home gym; and to The Hill School’s Colin Farawell, who finished third at the National Prep Championships and was presented the Bob Dalling Award for Most Falls in the least amount of time (five in 7:24) – an absolutely impressive achievement.

The Pioneer Athletic Conference will be represented by 27 wrestlers in this weekend’s AAA Southeast Regional, with 19 coming out of the South and the remaining eight from the North.

Speaking of the North... the PAC-10 did not have a gold medalist in District 1-North for the second consecutive year. Last year was the first time the league was denied gold since 1989. The four gold medalists in District 1-South matched last year’s count. Owen J. Roberts’ team title, by a narrow one-point margin over Rustin, was the Wildcats’ second in a row, and the 11th overall district team championship for the PAC-10.

Since the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s inaugural season (1986-87), the league has won 122 individual district AAA titles.



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