By Don Seeley
BUCKTOWN — Boyertown needed an emergency room, not a wrestling room.
With four starters missing because of the flu or an assortment of aches and pains, not to mention a few others in the lineup who were considerably less than 100 percent themselves, the Bears simply weren’t themselves for Friday night’s annual Pioneer Athletic Conference showdown with Owen J. Roberts.
Even a procession of paramedics wouldn’t have been able to ease their pain after the anything-but-expected but nonetheless decisive 43-14 loss to the area’s as well as District 1’s top-ranked Wildcats.
“We knew (Boyertown) had some guys out,” said OJR’s Tyler Rogers, who had the lone pin of the evening at 195 pounds and clinched the outcome when his fall pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 39-4 with four bouts remaining. “But we still had to prove a point, too.
“We haven’t been wrestling up to our own expectations, or wrestling to our ability. So we had some work to do. Overall, though, we stepped it up tonight.”
“We obviously didn’t see the best (Boyertown) has,” added OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo, who was in a recovery room himself earlier this week after undergoing shoulder surgery. “They usually come in here chomping at the bit, but they looked liked they were under the weather a bit. They still wrestled tough, still gave us some tough matches.”
However, the unbeaten Wildcats (3-0, 8-0 overall) — as they’ve been for nearly three full seasons now — were up to the challenge.
A pair of forfeits to Dallas Strus (160) and Kyle Shronk (171) helped, of course, as did majors from Demetri D’Orsaneo (138) and Derek Gulotta (113) sandwiched around a technical fall by Gordon Bolig (182). But what DeRafelo had to be pleased with was the fundamental wrestling, the workmanlike approach, that was so evident in the other four wins — a 5-4 decision in the 120-pound opener by Alex Pupo; 4-0 shutouts by Dominick Petrucelli (132) and Peter Fratantoni (145); and a 7-1 decision by Adam Moser (152).
Boyertown may have gotten a pair of takedowns from Eddie Kriczky during his 12-2 major in the second bout of the night to take a brief 4-3 lead. But it wasn’t until Jordan Wertz — nine bouts later — that the guests got another.
In other words, as close as it may have been at certain junctures, the Wildcats were in complete control.
“We knew we had to go hard,” DeRafelo said. “We know we have Pottsgrove (this morning) and then Spring-Ford coming up, but you can’t ever overlook Boyertown. Look at the schedule that team wrestles, and the way that team wrestles.”
Despite only trailing by a very respectful 22-4 at the halfway point, the Bears (2-2, 6-4) dropped the ensuing three bouts, with Rogers’ putting an exclamation point on the run and leaving Boyertown unable to make up the difference ... unable despite Wertz’s 10-1 major at 220, Jordan Wood’s 7-2 decision at 285, and Lucas Miller’s 2-0 nod at 106.
“I’m actually very proud of our guys,” said Boyertown head coach Pete Ventresca said. “They wrestled with a lot of heart out there.
“We knew we were coming into a hostile environment against a very good team. We knew we were overmatched, definitely overmatched. We’ve just had a lot of illness and some injuries ... it’s run the whole gamut. Believe me, if we didn’t have any bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck at all. But the kids fought hard.”
The Bears were without regulars Dante Colonna, Jake Salkovitz, Garrett Abare — all ill; and Gray Garber, who is injured. Both Wertzs, Dylan at 120 and Jordan at 220, have been battling sickness this week, too. A couple of others didn’t quite look themselves, either.
“But I’m not disappointed,” DeRafelo said. “I thought our kids wrestled tough, too.
“We’re kind of pleased with where we’re at right now, but our goal (winning the PAC-10 championship) is in a couple of weeks. But this was still a tough test for us, and now we have two more tough ones coming up.”
“We’re starting to get our lineup together now,” Rogers added, noting the Wildcats have had their share of illness and weight issues, too. “We’ve had guys sick, hurt a little bit here and there. But it seems everything is coming together.”
OJR’s Derek Gulotta capped the action with a major in the 113-pound finale. ... OJR won this year’s first meeting, defeating the Bears, 37-16, in the final of the season-opening Brian Bealer Memorial Bear Duals. ... After joining the PAC-10 in 2002-03, Boyertown won nine in a row over Owen J. Roberts. Despite five straight losses to the Wildcats now, the Bears still lead the overall series, 20-19.