by Dennis Weller, Special to the Pottstown Mercury
Posted on February 22, 2009
QUAKERTOWN - Five wrestlers from the Pioneer Athletic Conference made it to the championship round of Saturday's District 1-AAA North Tournament at Quakertown High School. Tough competition kept the first three league finalists from taking home a gold medal, but two who were expected to win all along came through in the end.
Upper Perkiomen heavyweight Jared Bennett finished up a dominating day with a pin in a little over a minute to capture first place just a few minutes after Methacton's Branadan Clark took the 215 pound title.
Those two were among 17 PAC-10 members who placed in the top four and will advance to next weekend's South East AAA Regional at Oxford with a shot to move on from there to the PIAA Tournanament.
Bennett, who came in with only two losses all season, won by scores of 9-1 and 4-0 and finished up with a fall in 1:05 over Hatboro-Horsham's Alex Myers.
"It almost feels like I have a bullseye," said Bennett. "I guess I'd rather be the guy with the bullseye than the guy trying to get it.
"It helps you work harder. Hard practices keep you ready for the post-season. It's pressure, but it's not bad pressure."
The Indian senior isn't going to let his most recent success go to his head.
"(Myers) said after the match, don't get used to pinning him. I won't. Hopefully, I'll make it to states again. If I make it that far ... medal."
Clark gained a spot in the final with 11-4 and 4-2 decisions and then knocked off Souderton's Roberts Smothers by a 6-2 score.
"It feels awesome," said Clark. "I just came in just ready to wrestle my style. I knew all the kids were tough, but if I wrestled my style I'd be okay.
"The first match gets all your nerves away. I was hoping to be a district champion and trying to get to states."
For sophomore D'Annunzio, a second place finish was quite an accomplishment after a freshman season as an 85-pounder on the jayvee team.
He started out with a forfeit win and a 4-2 decision before a tough 7-5 loss to C.B. South's top-seeded Mike Mathis.
"I set my goals at the beginning of the season," said D'Annunzio. "I wanted to win sectionals and make the top four (in districts) to make it to regionals. I have a lot of good people in my bracket. I think I've improved mentally. Last year I didn't have much confidence. This year I have a lot of confidence going into every match."
Fellman recorded 6-4 and 10-1 wins, but dropped a 2-0 final to first seed Colin Bynum of Quakertown on a first-period takedown.
"It usually isn't (the only points of the match)," said Fellman. "But they say the first takedown is always the most important thing to get."
Fellman hopes to get another shot at his Panther opponent next weekend.
"I really didn't like how my match went with him last week," said the Upper Perk senior. "I wanted a rematch. I'd love to wrestle him again. I've known him since I was 10 years old. He's a great wrestler."
Milligan wouldn't mind having another rematch, either. He began the day with 11-2 and 4-2 wins, but then dropped a 3-0 nod to Plymouth Whitemarsh's Luke Wisniewski.
"The kid's good," said Milligan. "Nobody likes losing. I've wrestled him three times this year. He knows all of my moves and how to counter them. I have to make some improvements to counter his moves.
"It would be nice to wrestle him again. It's going to be a tough regional. I'll try to make some improvements this week and come back strong next week."
Two others from Upper Perk advanced with third-place finishes - Dan Rodenberger at 103 and Nick Edmunson at 171. Three others from PV will move on - third place Jordan Deane at 135 and fourth-place finishers Brett Petriello (189) and Chase Godfrey (285). Pottsgrove advances four who each placed fourth - Eric DuBree (103), D.J. Ludy (125), Zach Robinson (130), and Dan Michaels (135). They'll all be joined by Phoenixville's Chris Onder (third at 112) and Ken Cenci (third at 215) and Methacton's Justin Andrews (third at 119).
Quakertown ran away with the team championship with 154 points to runner-up Norristown's 98.5. ... Upper Perkiomen was the top finisher from the PAC-10 in the field of 20 teams with 72 points and a sixth place finish, just ahead of Methacton with 69 points. ... Quakertown 152-pounder Nick Lubenetski was named the Outstanding Wrestler after recording three straight pins.