Owen J. Roberts Wildcats Wrestling District 1
Pioneer Athletic Conference

Pottstown digs itself out of early deficit to top OJR

by Don Seeley, Pottstown Mercury Sports Editor

Posted on January 4, 2007

BUCKTOWN -- When Owen J. Roberts went on a four-bout run and put Pottstown in a 24-6 hole, no one -- at least on the Trojans' side of the mat -- was fidgeting in his seat or scrambling to find the proverbial panic button.

Understandably so.

The Trojans responded with a five-bout run of their own, and swept eight of the final nine bouts overall to not only get up and out of that early hole but decision the host Wildcats, 47-30, and end their three-year skid in the Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals' long and storied series.

"This is always a big match for us," said Pottstown head coach Eric Dusko. "But we don't like to talk about that too much. We like to talk about performance and effort, and that's what we got tonight."

Dusko had to be pleased in that respect, because Wednesday night he not only got the expected results from some Trojans, but yeoman-like efforts from the lesser-known and unknown entries in his lineup.

Individuals like Kyle Musso, who broke up a 4-4 stalemate early on to take a 15-10 decision at 171 pounds; like Patrick Judge, a second-year wrestler with just two varsity matches, posting a pin at 285 pounds; like James McKinney, fighting to get back to .500 on the young season, posting another pin at 119 pounds, the next-to-last bout of the evening, that put the match out of reach.

"We knew (OJR's early run) was coming," Dusko said. "We knew that was their strongest part (of their lineup). But things turned out pretty well.

"The big thing is that these guys realized everybody on the team is important. You never know when you're going to get that chance to contribute. You never know when those opportunities are going to present themselves."

The Trojans sure did Wednesday night.

After Tim Penrose opened the affair at 130 pounds with a pin to give the Trojans a 6-0 lead, Owen J. Roberts went on its roll ..a pin by unbeaten Jeremy Stierly (18-0) at 135, a forfeit to Connor McCormick (17-1) at 140, a pin by Dan Mangold at 145, and another pin by Nick Fuschino (18-2) at 152).

But that flurry ended in a hurry.

Pottstown (1-0, 4-3) came back with Lewis Mazzerle's major decision at 160, Musso's decision at 171, Anthony Mazzerle's pin at 189, Fred Holly's forfeit at 215, and Judge's pin at 285. All of a sudden, Pottstown was on top, 31-24, and even though OJR's Cole Stewart got the Wildcats back to within one with his second-period fall at 103, returning state medalist Seth Ecker (14-1) outlasted longtime rival Will Bentley (14-5) in a 12-4 brawl at 112, and McKinney clinched it with his pin at 119, making unbeaten Eric Daniels' (15-0) 22-second pin in the final bout rather anticlimactic.

For Ecker, well, he kind of expected the slow start and strong finish.

"That area is kind of a weak spot for us that, as a team, we're working on, and that's where (OJR) is strong," Ecker said. "So starting at 130 the way we did, we knew we'd have to work off of that. I think the match-ups went our way, and we also won some of the toss-ups."

Don't think OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo didn't realize that, too.

"Pottstown came in here fired up and ready to go," he said. "They went after it. We knew we couldn't give up pins, but (Pottstown) got them. I give them credit."


Local businessman Aram Ecker, a longtime wrestling fan who sponsors a team trophy and individual outstanding wrestler awards for members from each squad, presented the OW awards to his son, Seth, and Fuschino. ..OJR has dominated the series the past decade, taking the last three and eight of the last nine.

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