PAC-10 High School Wrestling District 1

Upper Perk rings in new year with dramatic win over Perk Valley

by By Don Seeley,

Posted on January 6, 2011

GRATERFORD - It took Upper Perkiomen 11 individual bouts to get even, another two to take its first lead of the evening.

So when Dan Rodenberger strolled onto the mat for the final feature, he obviously was determined not to surrender that advantage ... or the match.

"Coach (Tom Hontz) just told me to be smart, to wrestle smart and not to do anything dumb," Rodenberger said.

He didn't, do anything dumb that is. Instead, the 135-pound senior erased whatever last-minute comeback hopes Perkiomen Valley had of its own, coming up with a first-period pin that enabled the Indians to escape with a 39-30 Pioneer Athletic Conference win Wednesday night.

The Indians, who dropped the opening four bouts and fell behind 15-0, a hole that could've been considerably deeper, had the upper hand in just two of the first eight - getting back-to-back pins from Cody Ambrose and Dalton Fleming at 171 and 189. But they were forced to dig out of another 15-point hole, a 27-12 differential, after the hosts' Luke DiElsi and David Robinson strung together successive pins at 215 and 285.

However, only A.J. Strickland was able to provide the Vikings another hurrah with his 5-2 decision at 125.

Leading up to that was all Upper Perkiomen -- namely a pin, a major decision and technical fall that created a 27-27 tie. Then, after Strickland was finished, Upper Perkiomen reversed those numbers on the scoreboard for good with Wolfgang McStravick's 3:51 pin at 130 and Rodenberger's 1:12 pin at 135.

"We're just not at full strength right now," Rodenberger said after improving to 8-5 on the season. "Not everyone is at the weights they want to be at.

"That means we're the kind of team that has to win a lot of the (individual bouts). We have to wrestle tough, go for the bonus points and not give up the bonus points. Tonight everyone wrestled hard. We didn't give up a lot of bonus points at all."

No they didn't.

Even though the bout count ended all even at seven apiece, it was the unsung efforts of Chris Rementer (145), Casey Cook (152) and Nate Pompei (160) that enabled the Indians (2-0, 6-3 overall) to stay within reach at the end. The three all lost, but lost decisions ... not majors nor anything more.

"This is the way it's going to be," Hontz said. "We're not going to storm anybody. Our kids know they have to wrestle hard to stay off their backs and wrestle hard to put people on their backs.

"We knew this wasn't going be easy, either. (Perkiomen Valley) has a very good lineup. In this league this year it's going to be all about matchups. We were fortunate to get some tonight."

Turns out the biggie was Rodenberger, who Hontz had a choice of sending out for the opener at 140 or saving for the finale at 135.

"We had the choice to send him out first or last, but we decided to keep him in our back pocket. He was a senior, he's been in some big matches ... we felt confident with him."

Rodenberger surely gained some confidence watching the Steffenino brothers cut into the lead at 103 and 112. Dante cut into the 27-12 deficit with his 34-second pin and Dylan followed with an 11-3 major. Kyle Fellman's technical fall at 119 is what got it all even, and after Strickland got PV the lead back it was McStravick and Rodenberger to ended the drama for good.

"It came down to the final match again," said a disheartened Tim Walsh, who watched the Vikings lose the final bout and match to Methacton (33-28) just over a week ago. "It's tough. It's very tough to deal with.

"But for us to win everyone has to do their job. Unfortunately, some kids couldn't get done what we needed them to do. There are some matches you expect to get a pin, but when you don't, when you get just (those three points), well, that one match can make a difference."

Perkiomen Valley (1-2, 2-2) created the early 15-0 cushion on Richie Tevlin's pin in the opener at 140, and three straight decisions by Gavin Milligan, Vaughn Gehman and Anthony DiElsi. They rebuilt it to 15 again on Luke DiElsi and Robinson pins. But even with Strickland's decision it wouldn't be enough.

"Every match in the PAC-10 is going to be tough," Rodenberger said. "We also know we're not as well-known as (Upper Perkiomen) once was. But we want to be known as the team that can go out there and scrap with anybody."


There were seven freshmen on the mats Wednesday night, five of them from Perkiomen Valley. ... The Indians leave Friday for the Battlefield Duals in Va., while the Vikings head south this weekend for the Octorara Duals.

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