Indians rack up 3 golds, take 4th straight team title
by Don Seeley, Pottstown Mercury Sports Editor
Posted on March 4, 2007
WEST NORRITON -- The general consensus was that this weekend, because the AAA Southeast Regional field was so deep in talent, there were going to be surprises galore, perhaps even a change of command.
For the record, lineup was as good if not better than in any of the previous 56, or since the regional format began in 1951. And there certainly were a good number of surprises.
But one thing didn't change ..Upper Perkiomen won its record fourth straight team title and fifth overall, which tied a District 1 record.
The Indians actually took the excitement out of any possible takeover before Saturday night's final rounds even began.
Then, thanks to gold medalists Chris Sheetz (119 pounds), Ryan Kemmerer (135) and Zack Kemmerer (140) -- also named the regional's Outstanding Wrestler -- and runners-up Shane Smith (130) and Bruce Augustine (285), they pinned down the title with considerable room to spare, finishing with 134 points.
Council Rock South (100.5), Pennsbury (91), Boyertown (78) and Downingtown West (73) rounded out the Top Five. Methacton (61), on the strength of gold medalists Jason Kadelski (145) and Brad Clark (160), just missed getting into the elite group. Neshaminy (47) was seventh, just ahead of Owen J. Roberts (45).
Upper Perkiomen's five medalists and state qualifiers was the team-high among area schools. Boyertown went 0-for-3 in the finals, but runners-up Matt Malfaro (103), Dave Jones (160) and Jesse DeWan (171) will still advance to next week's state spectacle in Hershey. Kadelski and Clark will be joined by teammate Jonathan Hammond, who was second at 140. Owen J. Roberts also moved on Will Bentley (112) and Jeremy Stierly (135), who were third and fourth, respectively, and Spring-Ford advanced Mike Platco (189), who was fourth.
If you're counting, that's 14 area qualifiers set to go in Thursday afternoon's opening round of the PIAA Championships.
And no one was happier than Upper Perkiomen head coach Tom Hontz.
"Considering who we lost, this feels great," said Hontz, who earlier was named the district's AAA Coach of the Year. "But who we returned, mainly our seniors, they were the ones who carried the day for us."
Especially Zack Kemmerer, who put on a clinic throughout his 21-6 technical fall over Hammond in their 140-pound final. It was the finishing touch on Kemmerer's third straight regional title, a rare achievement in District 1.
"I thought we'd get maybe six or seven (to states)," Kemmerer said after improving to 49-5 on the year and needing just one more victory to become the first wrestler in Pennsylvania history to string three straight 50-win seasons together. "But we had some tough matches, some tough losses.
"But everyone else kept pushing for those extra points, and we were able to win this again. To be crowned the top team in District 1 is something we're all very proud of."
Sheetz (49-3) started the Indians off with a 1-0 shutout of Springfield-Delco's Steve Armor. For the weekend, Sheetz only outscored his three opponents by a total spread of 5-1.
"I'm really frustrated," he said after successfully defending his title. "I felt I wrestled bad, but I guess guys are starting to know my style."
Ryan Kemmerer (44-8), a sophomore and lone underclassman among the Indians' entourage headed to Hershey, had few problems in his 11-8 decision of Hatboro-Horsham's Bernie Crandley.
"I didn't want to have to come back and get a third (place) this time," Kemmerer said, referring to last year's grind through the wrestlebacks. "This year, it was straight to the gold."
That's the path his older brother took, too.
Smith (46-8) saw his postseason pinning streak come to an end in the semifinals when he rolled up a 10-0 major. Then he saw his winning streak halted following a 1-0 setback to Neshaminy's Dex Lederer (39-3). And it was much the same for Augustine (35-7), who had two pins leading up to the finals, where he came up short in a 6-3 meeting with Haverford's Brian Ellixson (33-4).
"The number of titles we've won now may seem old hat," Hontz said. "But it's an awesome accomplishment. I'm proud of the guys."
Boyertown had all but one of its regional qualifiers alive Saturday, but only Malfaro (35-9), Jones (42-4) and DeWan (42-4) managed to survive and get to the final rounds. Malfaro, just a freshman, was pinned by undefeated defending state champion Mark Rappo (49-0) of Council Rock South. Jones saw his 28-bout winning streak end in a 12-7 loss to Methacton's Clark. And DeWan had his area-high 33-bout winning streak snapped in a 5-2 loss to Garnet Valley's Dave Morey (35-3).
The unsung Kadelski (32-4) gave Methacton its first regional champion in nine years when he held off Downingtown West's Steve Rathfon, 3-2, at 145.
"I knew it was going to be a tough day, and I knew coming in what to expect," Kadelski said. "I also knew I had to wrestle at the top of my game to come out on top ..and I did."
Clark (34-1) and his 12-7 win over Jones ended what was one of the more anticipated showdowns.
"I heard a lot of good things about (Jones), and I knew he was improved," Clark said, noting he defeated Jones last summer by a 9-2 count. "I was just able to capitalize off his mistakes."
Boyertown lost returning state qualifiers Asher Hyatt (125) and Jamie Soupik (140) earlier Saturday. ..The area's seven teams represented at the regional, which included 34 individual qualifiers, went a combined 65-53 with the 14 medalists in the two-day tournament. ..The District 1 Wrestling Officials Association's Sportsmanship Award went to Crandley. Official Mark Marino and District Justice Albert Augustine made the presentation. ..Upper Perkiomen has had at least one regional champion for nine straight years. ..Platco's medal extended Spring-Ford's run of state qualifiers to six years in a row.