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PAC-10 High School Wrestling District 1

Now's not the time to look ahead

by Don Seeley, Pottstown Mercury Sports Editor

Posted on February 21, 2009

A call may be made to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association to cancel the state wrestling tournament in two weeks. There are a whole lot of people from Bensalem to Butler, Boyertown to Bradford, and just about everywhere else in the Commonwealth who already have it all figured out ... already know who's finishing first (if not first through eighth) in all the brackets.

Why does that thing about the chicken and the egg and whatever came first keep coming to mind?

Ya gotta love wrestling fans. You should, at least most of them, that is. Their energy, and their passion, sure help make wrestling the great sport it is.

But this is the time of the year when a lot of the girls and boys (or shall we say ladies and gentlemen) kind of get ahead of themselves.

Just over a week ago, before District 1's six sectionals began, a lot of people were already making their picks for the Southeast Regional. This week, before the three district tournaments' top three seeds were revealed and everyone else was placed in their respective spots in the brackets, the conversations - and bantering on various forums, of course - intensified, with even more people coming up with a list of who was getting out of the Southeast Regional and going to medal at states.

Holy Singlet, Batman ... it sure does seem like a lot of people are ahead of themselves (or maybe Biff got a hold of Marty McFly's 2009 PIAA State Championships results book).

District 1's three Class AAA tournaments get under way this morning and, for the record, there are a good number of weight classes in each of them that are locked and loaded with talent, or enough talent to create a lot of excitement ... a whole heck of a lot of questions that won't necessarily get answered - officially, that is - until later tonight.

And then, when we're able to digest all the results and combine them with those from District 12 (the district better known for its mystery school district boundaries and recruiting skills), it'll be fun to hear all the conversations (and arguments) and see how they overload the forums next week heading into the Southeast Regional.

Let's start up North.

Norristown's Parker brothers - Brandon and Stephen - would like to have Family Day in Quakertown. Brandon (140), a sophomore and the No. 1 seed, likely hasn't forgotten that match 30 days ago when he got pinned with 30 seconds left by none other than Eric Koch of Quakertown, who happens to be the No. 2 seed today. Stephen (145), a senior and the No. 1 seed, has probably heard enough about Pennridge's Colin McDonnell being this and being that, but could get the opportunity to let it all fall on deaf ears if he meets McDonnell - the No. 2 seed - in the final. At 160, Plymouth-Whitemarsh's John Staudenmayer was almost as good this time last year (38-1) as he is now (34-0), and would like nothing more than to finish off the weekend like he did last year's district weekend, with a win over C.B. East's Devon Passman. That, of course, would help him get a favorable seating in next week's bracket, where he could take aim at a few other notable challengers (Council Rock South's Ed Shupe, Great Valley's Justin Schellenger, and Springfield-Delco's Pat Leahan).

But if the North has one weight class to watch it's the big boys at 285 pounds - a gang of eight whose combined won-loss records are second only to the South's 152-pound bracket. There's defending champion Jared Bennett of Upper Perkiomen (35-2), whose only two losses were back in December out in Reno - and both on the mats and not in the casinos; Hatboro-Horsham's Alex Myers (29-4), who has won 14 in a row, including 10 times by pins; C.B. East's Joe Burke (27-4), who flip-flopped between 215 and 285 all season and has been beaten just once at 285 - by Bennett last week; Norristown's Marcus Robbins (36-6), among the district leaders in pins who won 18 in a row before dropping a close decision last weekend to Myers; and Perkiomen Valley's Chase Godfrey (31-5), whose only two losses since the calendar turned over to 2009 have been to Bennett (1-0) and Myers (5-2).

Now, to the Central showdown at Spring-Ford.

At 119, it could be a Section Four rematch for Boyertown's Matt Malfaro (35-5) and Unionville's Joe Bonaduce (24-3), who had a 6-2 lead before Malfaro hit him for a six-point move that led to an injury default. And it may not be any different at 125 for Spring-Ford's very quick Tim Miller (28-6) and Great Valley's very strong Kyle Liberato (28-3).

Penncrest's Resnick brothers have an agenda, too. At 135, Will (23-5) is likely to get Kennett's unbeaten Kyle Bove (32-0) in the final; and at 171, Jim (27-2) is likely to have a final date with either Great Valley's Scott Schretzenmaier (30-2) or Henderson's Hunter Smith (25-1), who lost his unbeaten season last week in a 1-0 struggle with Resnick. But the 171 semifinals - Resnick against Downingtown West's Josh Homer and Smith against Schretzenmaier - may be double the fun to watch.

At 140, unbeaten Joe Marino (29-0) of Garnet Valley and Downingtown East's once-beaten Billy Heemer (26-1) are at opposite ends of the bracket. At 152, expect another PAC-10 battle between OJR's Nick Fuschino (28-1) and Boyertown's Tim Feroe (35-6), but don't necessarily expect another lopsided score like the one in last week's Section Four final.

Both 189 and 215 are packed tight, too. At 189, Boyertown sophomore Zach Heffner (25-5) is an up and coming talent, and could see Oxford's Nick Ruggear (27-4) in the final. At 215, Great Valley's Carl Buchholz, who pound for pound may be one of the best in the entire district, seems to tower over the rest. But don't overlook OJR's Scott Syrek (23-4), Conestoga's Greg Gruschow (24-5) or Downingtown East's energized Amro Elansati (25-1).

And finally, heading South.

At 103, Chris Matusik (30-2) could become only the second district champion at Academy Park, but will likely have to upset Truman's James Bak (32-2) to do it. At 125, Council Rock South's Matt Rappo (30-8) will be looking for his second district title that would extend his family's string of at least one district champion to six straight years. At 145, a potential semifinal between South's Marc Helfrich (27-7) and Springfield-Delco's Brandon Loro (29-5) may be the best of the bracket.

At 152, what a final it could be between once-beatens Jimmy Vollrath (32-1) of Council Rock South and Josh Marquard (33-1) of Sun Valley. That is if pin-happy Bobby Scheivert (33-3) of Chichester doesn't pull an upset beforehand. And at 160, Springfield-Delco's Pat Leahan (29-5) would like to avenge that 4-2 setback in the district duals to top-seeded Ed Shupe (29-3) of Council Rock South.

But the one match most are looking for tonight unfolds at 189 ... and make no mistake about it, barring a Twilight Zone-like upset early on, the final will be between Council Rock North's Jamie Callender (35-5) and Springfield-Delco's Andre Petroski (32-2). A junior, Petroski defeated Callender, 12-8, on Jan. 17 during the Elite Duals at C.R. North. They avoided one another in the district duals (understandable coaching strategy), but won't today.

At the Section Eight Tournament last weekend, La Salle dominated as expected - nine individual champions, two runners-up, and two others who placed third. Don't look for the Explorers to lose many of their 13 qualifiers at today's District 12-AAA Championships, either, where the eight-man brackets are made up of four qualifiers each from the Philadelphia Catholic and Public leagues. The tournament is being held at Thomas Edison High School.

TRIVIA TIME

Who were the five District 1 wrestlers who failed to win an AAA Southeast Regional title but advanced to the PIAA Championships the following week and won a state title? (Answer at the end of the column ... and no peeking).

DISTRICT MATTERS

Of all the teams represented in today's three AAA tournaments, Sun Valley has gone the longest of any without a district champion. The Vanguards' last gold medalist was Mike Kennedy in 1987. Ridley (1989), Penn Wood (1990), and Strath Haven (1990) are next on the list.

In Class AAA, Upper Perkiomen has had nine straight seasons with at least one district champion, three better than Boyertown, Pennsbury, and Quakertown. Council Rock South and Owen J. Roberts are shooting to extend their respective streaks to six straight years today. In Class AA, Octorara is the runaway leader with 17 straight seasons of at least one district champion. St. Pius X (10) and Harriton (8) are a distant second and third, respectively, behind the Braves.

BEARING DOWN

Alex Pellicciotti is within nine wins of tying the Boyertown school record for wins in a season. The junior 130-pounder takes a 38-3 mark into today's District 1-AAA Central Tournament, but would need to wrestle his way to states and pick up a few wins there to match the 47 wins put up by both Fred Rodgers (2006) and Jesse DeWan (2007). Pellicciotti needs one win to equal his total of a year ago and two to join a list of 12 former Bears who had 40 or more wins in a season.

Fuschino (120), Pellicciotti (115), Bennett (114), and Feroe (110) are the area's career win leaders among those still wrestling. Fuschino could conceivably tie Robert Hoffman (131) for second on OJR's chart, but will fall short of Aaron Brown (134). ... Pellicciotti has all of next year yet to track down DeWan (143) as the Bears' all-time leader. ... Feroe (69) and Bennett (59) are far and above the area's active leaders in career pins.

TRIVIA ANSWER

The five District 1 wrestlers who failed to win an AAA Southeast Regional title but advanced to the PIAA Championships the following week and won a state title were: Neshaminy Maple Point's John Reich, was pinned in the regional final by Council Rock's Lee Lartucci, but went on to win the state title at 155 pounds in 1978; Methacton's Jon Moser finished third at the regional behind runner-up Pat Curry of Haverford and champion Tim Tobin of Ridley at the regional, but went on to win the state title - decisioning Curry in the first all-District 1 state final - at 126 pounds in 1979; Central Bucks East's Marc Sodano finished third at the regional behind runner-up Dave Lucerne of Downingtown and champion Nick Vodantis of Phoenixville, but went on to win the state title at 112 pounds in 1982; Upper Perkiomen's Brad Rozanski was decisioned by West Chester East's Mike Krafchick in the regional final, but went on to win the state title at 125 pounds in 1990; and Upper Perkiomen's Chris Sheetz finished second at the regional to Council Rock South's Rick Rappo, but went on to decision Rappo in the state final for the title at 112 pounds in 2005.

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