Boyertown's Pellicciotti wins gold; seven locals move on
by Don Seeley, Pottstown Mercury Sports Editor
Posted on March 1, 2009
OXFORD - Alex Pellicciotti was the Pioneer Athletic Conference's golden boy Saturday.
It's only golden boy.
The Boyertown junior was the only one of five finalists to win Saturday night during the AAA Southeast Regional here at Oxford High School, and he won with the same fundamentally sound approach and execution that has kept him perfect throughout the postseason.
The 130-pound Pellicciotti, as he did in the Section Four and District 1-Central finals the previous two weeks, got the best of Unionville's Mason Popham. This time a second-period reversal and a third-period takedown was all he needed in a 4-0 shutout that helped erase last year's disappointing runner-up finish and earn him his first regional title.
It was also the bright spot in an otherwise dull - and disappointing - final round for the PAC-10.
Earlier, Boyertown's Jeremy Minich (112) and Matt Malfaro (119) came up short, then Owen J. Roberts' Nick Fuschino (152) and Upper Perkiomen's Jared Bennett (285) failed to defend their respective titles. In the consolation finals, the Bears' Tim Feroe (152) came up with yet another pin to finish third, while OJR's Scott Syrek (215) opted for a medical forfeit and settled for fourth.
Pellicciotti and his teammates' otherwise strong showing still enabled the Bears to finish second in the team scoring with 103 points. Council Rock South (132), with five finalists and another in the consolation bracket, had all but clinched the crown going into the finals. LaSalle (88), Springfield-Delco (86) and Council Rock North (77.5) rounded out the Top Five.
Owen J. Roberts and Upper Perkiomen closed at 13th and 18th, respectively, while fellow PAC-10 rivals Methacton, Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley, Phoenixville, and Pottsgrove - all of whom failed to qualify anyone for next week's state tournament - finished well back in the 68-team field.
Pellicciotti, who outlasted Council Rock South's Matt Martoccio in a 7-6 semifinal thriller earlier Saturday, found himself in a scoreless struggle with Popham (29-5) after one period. But his reversal, and ensuing takedown in the final period, was more than enough even though the final score paled in comparison to his earlier 8-2 and 8-4 decisions of Popham.
"It definitely gets harder every time I wrestle (Popham)," Pellicciotti said after improving to a gawdy 45-3 on the season. "(Popham's) learning my moves, and this was the toughest match I had with him yet. But I think all that shows is that were the two best in the regional, and we're both going to states.
"But my goal here was to take the gold (medal). There were a couple of tough kids in my bracket, but I felt I could get first (place) here. I was just a lot more confident this year than I was last year."
Minich (40-5) looked confident, too, but the first-period takedown he surrendered was all it took for Springfield-Delco's Dan Dortone to deny him the gold medal..
"I knew (Dortone) would go with the legs, and he sure put the legs in," Minich said, referring to Dortone's dominating ride through the second period. "I managed to stand up a couple of times, but... I almost had him. But he's tough, so tough all-around."
Minich opened the day with a dramatic, last-second 11-10 decision over Hatboro-Horsham's Matt Harkins in the semifinals. That clinched a berth in the state tournament. But moving on didn't entirely erase the disappointment of the his setback to Dortone (38-3).
"I'm going to states," Minich said. "I would have liked to have finished first, but (second place) is better than third or fourth, too."
Malfaro echoed those sentiments after watching a 4-3 first period advantage disappear in a hurry in the second period when Council Rock North's Zac Haynes (36-9) used an escape and takedown to go in front, 6-4. Then a cradle in the waning moments of the third period put the score up to 9-4 and out of the reach of Malfaro (41-6).
"I'm not satisfied ... I wanted gold," said Malfaro, who had lost to Haynes twice in the season-opening Bear Duals at Boyertown. "He just seemed so strong. I just couldn't set anything up, couldn't get into anything. (Haynes) took control of the match."
Fuschino was forced to overtime with Council Rock South's Jimmy Vollrath, and the 1-1 deadlock ended seconds into the first extra session when Fuschino was whistled for an illegal head scissors.
"This was probably the match I was most ready for all year," said Fuschino, who'll take a 34-2 record to states next week. "It's upsetting to lose like that, to make a stupid mistake like that. It really angers me.
"I'm not so much upset that I didn't defend my (regional) title, but it's always been my goal in high school to do better than I did the year before. I know that sounds like a cliche, but it's what I work for. I wrestled well otherwise, so I just have to take the mistake and learn from it."
One mistake is what cost Bennett his second straight regional title, too. The Upper Perkiomen senior tried rolling out from under Abington's unbeaten David Osei (41-0) and got caught for two back points that put him in a 4-0 hole. A reversal and escape would only get Bennett (41-3) within 4-3 ... and that's how it ended.
Feroe (41-8) pinned Great Valley's Travis Donnor for his third-place medal. Syrek (215), slowed by injuries in the postseason, opted to take the medical forfeit and fourth place to get ready for states.
Boyertown sophomore Zach Heffner (189) finished fifth, while Upper Perkiomen sophomore Dan Rodenberger (103) won three of four bouts Saturday to place fifth as well.
The PAC-10's 32 regional qualifiers went a combined 46-57 on the weekend, with Boyertown (15-7), Owen J. Roberts (8-5) and Upper Perkiomen (10-7) accounting for most of those wins. ... Haynes' win gave Council Rock North its very first regional champion. That number doubled later Saturday night when Jamie Callender upset Springfield-Delco's Andre Petroski in the 189-pound final. ... Penncrest's Jim Resnick, who won the 171-pound title, was named the regional's Outstanding Wrestler. ... Two of District 1's returning state medalists - Upper Moreland's Tim Santry (119) and Great Valley's Kyle Liberato (125) - failed to advance out of Saturday's consolations. ... District 1 accounted for 48 of the regional's 56 state-qualifying berths, with the remaining eight going to the Philadelphia Catholic League of District 12. The Philadelphia Public League was shut out. ... Boyertown has advanced at least one wrestler to the PIAA Championships every year since 1996.