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PAC-10 High School Wrestling District 1

Malfaro focused on state medal

by Don Seeley, Pottstown Mercury Sports Editor

Posted on February 17, 2009

Wrestling had always been a treat for the Malfaro family. Especially for Bill, a section champion for Pottsgrove back in 1980, and for his brothers Paul, Lewis, and Mike.

So it was no surprise, actually it was quite natural, when Bill's first three sons - Billy, Tony, and Jacob - began rolling around on the mats at a young age.

But soon after Bill's youngest son Matt started walking, he wasn't in any hurry to exchange his diapers for a singlet, or traipse out onto the mats. He was, much to his dad's and older brothers' surprise, quite the aloof one when it came to wrestling.

"I hated it at first," recalled Matt, now a junior at Boyertown High School.

But dad had one move the li'l fella simply couldn't counter.

"Ice cream," Matt explained. "Like I said, I hated wrestling. My dad got me started when I was in elementary school, and I didn't like it at all. But it was in my family, so I guess I didn't have a choice at first.

"When winter came around, I hated the idea (of wrestling). I hated the practices. I cried ... did everything I could not to go. That's when my dad said, 'We'll get ice cream after practice.' Well, I couldn't wait for those ice cream cones."

What a treat they were.

And what a treat dad and brothers got in return Saturday morning when they watched Matt pin down his 100th career win during the opening round of the District 1-Class AAA Section Four Tournament.

"I started getting better in those practices, and by wrestling a lot with my brother Tony," Malfaro remembered moments after the milestone win. "I actually started to like it."

Getting better may have been an understatement.

Malfaro tipped the scales at 80 pounds and went 26-2 in seventh grade at Boyertown West. He bulked up to 90 pounds - not so much on ice cream anymore - and went 26-4 in eighth grade. He had more than proved himself, and the following year he was in the Bears' starting lineup.

He hasn't been out of it since, either.

And getting the 100th win - which led to his second Section Four title - is just another addition on his long list of wrestling achievements.

"It's something I guess I always wanted to get, but something I didn't really think a lot about," Malfaro explained. "When getting (100) became more realistic, I realized it's a pretty good accomplishment.

"Of course some people say winning 100 is easy to do now. Maybe it is, but not everybody does get that many. It was always something that made me want to work harder. It was never a distraction to me."

Malfaro, now 102-33, hopes to add to that total during this weekend's District 1-AAA Central Tournament at Spring-Ford. Adding a second district title to his resume would be nice, but the Southeast Regional and the PIAA state championships are just ahead, too.

"Right now, it's step by step, or win, win, win," Malfaro said. "Getting (100 wins) was one of my goals, but my long-term goal is to place at states. That means I'm going to have to win here (at sectionals), at districts, and at regionals."

All Malfaro did Saturday was win. After his 46-second pin, he cruised in a 13-0 major to get to the final against No. 1 seed Joe Bonaduce of Unionville. He fell behind 6-2 early on, but a six-point move - takedown and four-point near fall when Bonaduce called for injury time - led to an injury default and the gold medal.

No one was sure if Bill Malfaro treated his youngest son to an ice cream cone later that night, though.

Saturday was a memorable day for Upper Perkiomen's Mike McStravick, too.

The 140-pound senior became the program's 21st wrestler to reach 100 career wins, reaching the mark with an 11-0 major decision during Saturday's semifinals of the District 1-Class AAA Section Two Tournament.

"It felt good to get my 100th win out of the way early in the postseason. I dragged it out a little bit because of my (bout with) pneumonia," said McStravick, who missed part a few matches late in the season and in the district duals because of the illness.

MILLER TIME

Spring-Ford senior Tim Miller said he worked a lot during the offseason to, in his words, "span the gap."

Well, he actually closed the gap this winter. And that was never more evident than Saturday night when he outlasted Great Valley's Kyle Liberato, 7-6, in the 125-pound final of the District 1-Class AAA Section Four Tournament.

Last year, Liberato blanked Miller, 4-0, at the sectional, then came back two weeks later and ended his season with an 11-2 major at the Southeast Regional. Liberato went on to medal at states, while Miller could just watch from the Giant Center seats.

"I just worked harder doing a lot of different stuff in the offseason," Miller explained. "I knew I had to improve. And this (section title) was my first goal ... the second and third are districts and regionals."

Miller's quickness was enough to offset Liberato's muscle ... at least enough to get that last-minute escape that proved to be the difference.

"I tried not to worry about his strength, because you can't wrestle defensive," Miller said. "I had to stay away from his ties. When he gets you tied up, it's tough to get out. So I just tried to use my quickness against him. It seemed to work, too, because (Liberato) seemed frustrated at times, especially at the end."

HIGH MARKS

The No. 1 high belongs to Hill School, which had seven medalists in last weekend's Pennsylvania Independent Schools State Tournament. Colin Saunders swept the 119-pound weight class, Jay Knight was second at 285, Steele Phillips and Kyle Place were fourth at 135 and 215, respectively, and Jack Sullivan was fifth at 125 to advance to this week's National Prep Championships up at Lehigh University. The Blues also got a pair of sevenths from Karl Wiszumerski and Tyler Mueller to finish up seventh in the 19-team field. Combined with Perkiomen School's Zach Sell and Eric Pfeiffer - both eighth - it was the two area school's best combined showing at the state tournament in recent memory.

Unquestionably the two other highs from last weekend belong to Perkiomen Valley and Owen J. Roberts, who have 10 and 9 district qualifiers - both school records - on the mats this Saturday.

DOUBLE DOWN

Zach Robinson became Pottsgrove's first sectional champion in 15 years last season. This past Saturday he repeated, joining Mike Meko (1973-74) and Chris Beasley (1991-92) as the program's only two-time sectional champions.

SOLE MAN

Daniel Boone's Colin Martucci was the Blazers' lone survivor in last weekend's District 3-Class AAA Section Four Tournament at Governor Mifflin. Martucci, who finished second at 140 to improve to 31-5 n the season, will open the Southcentral Regional on Friday against Susquehanna Township's Robert Tupper (23-10). Barring an upset, he'll likely see top-seeded Jayshon Wilson (32-1) of Carlisle in the quarterfinals.

STREAKING

Methacton's Brandan Clark repeated as a Section Three champion that, combined with older brother Brad's three earlier, gives his family five straight seasons of sectional champions. ... Upper Perkiomen's Jared Bennett swept his second straight gold medal last Saturday to extended the Indians' area-high streak of at least one section champion to 11 straight years. Owen J. Roberts' Nick Fuschino's second gold medal extended the Wildcats' streak to eight straight years. Boyertown has had at least one every season since its return to District 1 back in 2002-03.

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