Happy New Year seems appropriate.
It may be just that, too – a Happy New Year that is – for some teams and, perhaps, for a good number of their wrestlers.
But before saying farewell to 2012, a few things happened that are still worthy of one final applause, still worthy of tucking into the memory banks before moving on into the second half of the current season … and, who knows, before experiencing even more extraordinary events to look back on before saying farewell to 2013.
Owen J. Roberts, of course, was clearly The Mercury’s top wrestling story this past year.
The Wildcats shut out three of their Pioneer Athletic Conference opponents and limited the other six to eight points or less – surrendering a single-season league record 40 overall – en route to their second straight championship. They also became just the third PAC-10 team to capture a District 1-AAA Duals title and, when all was said and done, closed with a school-record 20-2 overall mark.
Later, head coach Steve DeRafelo and OJR swept the Section Four and District 1-South team titles.
Ironically, an Owen J. Roberts freshman was the area’s individual headliner by season’s end. The 113-pound Derek Gulotta overcame an early season injury and quite a few obvious challengers along the way to finish eighth at the PIAA Championships.
With this season and two more ahead of him, Gulotta could join Nick Fuschino (2008-09) as the only two-time state medalists in OJR history. He also has the opportunity to become OJR’s first with three or possibly even four state medals, previously achieved by just 10 Mercury area wrestlers – Boyertown’s Alex Pellicciotti, Methacton’s Dan Covatta and Jeff Albano, Pottstown’s Joey Allen and Seth Ecker, Spring-Ford’s Matt Moley, and Upper Perkiomen’s Derek Zinck and Mark Smith with three each; and Upper Perkiomen’s Chris Sheetz and Zach Kemmerer with four apiece.
And not to be overlooked was
Perkiomen head coach Tom Hontz reaching a milestone, too, with his
300th career win that will rightfully earn him a spot in the Pennsylvania
Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame.
Now looking ahead…
There’s no question Owen J. Roberts has once again established itself as the team to beat in the Pioneer Athletic Conference and, arguably, in all of District 1. Despite some disturbances in the lower portion of their lineup – as in fitting every one of their very good group of veteran lightweights into a different (as well as comfortable) weight class – the Wildcats have certainly wrestled up to the expectations heaped on them thus far. They swept the season-opening Bealer Memorial Bear Duals, finished a respectable 17th at the Beast of the East, and won last weekend’s Buckskin Classic at
But until showtime(s) – or the PAC-10’s head-to-head, dual-meet competition – don’t dare overlook Spring-Ford or Boyertown and, who knows, possibly even
Upper Perkiomen and
Spring-Ford and Boyertown actually mirror one another with a handful of veterans and a very promising group of freshmen and sophomores.
Upper Perkiomen, despite its one loss already (to
Spring-Ford), and Methacton are both capable of pulling off a surprise or two, all
of which could add up to a mighty upset.
So, yes, 2013 looks every bit as intriguing and exciting as any before it.
All of which means we’ll surely have something to write about, or talk about, this time next year.
Buckskin Classic: OJR won the team title behind gold medalists Gulotta (113) and Gordon Bolig (182) and a runner-up finish by Kyle Shronk (160). Gulotta had three pins and a major decision. Shronk fell 1-0 to Mechanicsburg’s Mitchell Ramsey, who defeated Shronk 10-2 at the Buckskin a year ago and then by injury default in the state duals quarterfinals in Hershey.
Hurricane Classic: If there’s such a thing as a good loss than Boyertown freshmen phenoms Lucas Miller and Jordan Wood got them during the Hurricane Classic. The 106-pound Miller lost for only the second time in the opening round, but came back with a pin, a pair of majors, then 12-0, 4-0 and 5-0 shutouts for the bronze medal. The previously unbeaten 220-pound Wood debuted with a pin, humbled returning state medalist Evan Kauffman with a 12-2 major, and added another major before falling to nationally ranked Garrett Ryan of Wyoming Seminary. Teammate Jordan Wertz fared well at 195 – taking sixth – despite losses to defending state champion Ryan Solomon of
and returning state medalist P.J. Steinmetz of Council Rock South. Milton
Manheim: Spring-Ford’s Tyler McGuigan has established himself as one of the district’s top 170-pounders after taking gold at the Manheim Lions Tournament. Sophomore Ryan Hayes took second after getting decisioned in the 112-pound final by returning Northwest Regional qualifier Michael Bartolo of Reynolds. Freshman Matt Krieble may have been head coach Tim Seislove’s biggest surprise with a third at 120. And heavyweight Josh Boyer took fourth, his first loss coming to Kiski Area’s Shane Kuhn, who was fourth in the state a year ago.
Tiger Classic: Methacton’s Tracey Green finished off a decision and three-pin effort at 285 by decking returning
Delaware state runner-up
A.J. Lassiter of William Penn for a gold medal at the Tiger Classic in . Teammate Joe
Staley was second at 132 after dropping a 6-2 final to Kyle Gordon of Delaware ,
who was fourth in the state a year ago. Mike Baccaro settled for fourth at 195,
losing his semifinal to Matoaca’s Corbin Ramos, a returning bronze state
medalist. Matoaca, Va.
’s Nick Giangiulio was the area’s
lone gold medalist in the upgraded Wetzel Classic at Hatboro-Horsham. The
152-pound Giangiulio is a legitimate postseason threat, too. Teammates Alec
Della Donna (182) and Luke DiElsi (285) both won five of six bouts to place
third for the Vikings. … Pottsgrove got a second from Nico Demetrio (132), who
lost to Downingtown East’s unbeaten T.J. Nelson in the final; and a third from
Pat Finn (220), who bounced back from his first loss of the season to win four
bouts and the bronze medal. Perkiomen Valley
Spring-Ford’s Sean Hennessey can only hope 2013 is better if he runs into
’s Mike Marino
again. Hennessey dropped his four consecutive match to Marino in the 126-pound
consolation semifinals to Marino. The previous three setbacks were 2-1, 1-0,
and a second-period pin. Hennessey did edge Marino, 2-1, in their first meeting
on Feb. 4, 2011. Garnet
McStravick’s weekend sweep pushed his career win total to 122, which ties him with Upper Perkiomen’s Mike Berlanda and Methacton’s John Pagnotta for 42nd place on The Mercury area’s all-time chart. McStravick needs 10 more wins to get into the Top 25. … Teammate Dylan Steffenino, who hasn’t wrestled for nearly two full weeks due to an injury, is the only other active wrestler with more than 100 wins (104), although Bolig needs just four more to reach the milestone. … There are two others closing in on the mark – OJR’s Adam Moser (88) and Spring-Ford’s Sean Hennessey (87). …
Perkiomen’s Steffenino brothers – Dustin, Dante and Dylan – take a
combined won-loss mark of 204-63 into the new year.
Phoenixville will be hosting its first invitational this Saturday. The Phantoms will entertain a field that includes Annville-Cleona,
and York Tech from District 3, and
Schuylkill Haven from District 11. District 1’s Radnor and PAC-10 rival
Pottsgrove round out the individual tournament’s lineup. Twin Valley
Don Seeley is the sports editor of The Mercury. His wrestling column appears Tuesdays through the PIAA Championships.He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org