Indians clinch 10th straight league title as Kemmerer ties state record
by Don Seeley, Pottstown Mercury Sports Editor
Posted on February 1, 2007
RED HILL -- Zack Kemmerer reached yet another milestone, Chris Sheetz closed in on a very rare one himself, Shane Smith used the well-known family headlock to decision a returning state medalist and the old reliables were just that, their usually reliable selves.
But no one, not even Upper Perkiomen's vocal home folk, savored Wednesday night's 57-7 victory over Owen J. Roberts more than Ryan Johnston.
For three long seasons Johnston labored in the practice room, only to get a token appearance in a varsity match. This season, his last, Johnston at last earned a spot in the lineup. And though his contributions have been often overlooked or overshadowed by his more celebrated teammates, his technical fall in the next-to-last bout Wednesday evening was as meaningful as any in the romp -- Upper Perkimoen's 82nd straight Pioneer Athletic Conference win that pinned down the program's 10th consecutive league title.
"This really feels good," said the soft-spoken senior, who moved up to 130 pounds and finished off his opponent in just 2:40. "To end the PAC-10 season this way ..
"It's really been a long road. It was so hard to break into this lineup. Everyone is so good. It's almost like there's never any holes. It's always been someone really good somewhere."
This year, though, was well worth the wait for Johnston, who watched the three previous PAC-10 title runs from behind the varsity's front row of seats. But he knew what was expected of him from the outset this season, soon after he worked his way into the lineup alongside the Kemmerers, Sheetzs and Smiths, to name a few.
"Our first goal was to get the PAC-10 (title)," Johnston said.
"Coach (Tom Hontz) told us we had to take it step by step, take one match at a time. I wanted to contribute, to be part of this. So this was a big night. But it wasn't about me, it was about the team."
The Indians (8-0, 16-4 overall) were, for the most part, as impressive as they've been throughout the streak. They swept 12 of the 14 individual bouts against the visiting Wildcats (3-5, 4-10), who were outmatched but showed admirable energy and fight all evening.
Zack Kemmerer opened the affair with a 17-7 major at 140 pounds, tying the state record for career wins (179), which he hopes to break Friday night in the quarterfinals of the District 1-Class AAA Duals Tournament. The 125-pound Sheetz needed 62 seconds to ring up his 99th career pin, or within one of the very, very short list of Pennsylvania wrestlers with 100 or more falls. And the 135-pound Smith closed out the evening by breaking up a scoreless struggle with OJR's Jeremy Stierly with a third-period takedown and ensuing three-point near fall -- via the headlock -- for a 5-2 decision over the state-ranked Stierly.
"A lot of people say a lot of things about (Upper Perkiomen)," said OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo. "But the bottom line is that they have made the PAC-10 better. They have made everyone better, that's Boyertown, Spring-Ford, us ..everyone.
"But I'm not upset with the way we wrestled tonight, either. Everyone came out with some fight.No one rolled over. That's a great team over there, but our guys hung in there and stayed physical."
But before, in between and after those two hurrahs, it was all Upper Perkiomen.
The Indians got additional pins from Brian Keyser (215), Garrett Fellman (103) and Michael McStravick (119); a forfeit from Bruce Augustine (285); another technical fall from Nick Edmunson (171); a major from Anthony Uhrik (160); and decisions from Hoyt Emmons (152) and Mark Strohl (189).
"We had some struggles this year," Hontz said. "We lost some quality kids from last year, and it was tough at times to piece it all together. But our seniors, all of them, they worked hard for this.
"Winning the PAC-10 is always our first goal. It's always our first priority. So this ..10 years in a row ..it's kind of a neat feeling."
Upper Perkiomen's seniors and their parents were honored prior to the match Wednesday night. ..The Indians wrestle Springfield-Delco at 6 p.m. Friday in the District 1-AAA Duals quarterfinals.