By Dennis Weller
Special to The Mercury
FORT WASHINGTON — For Boyertown, this weekend’s District 1-Class AAA Team Duals at Upper Dublin High School turned out to be a series of four rematches against their toughest opponents ... all from the Pioneer Athletic Conference, all in less than 24 hours.
And the Bears did quite well as they won three out of four against teams they had lost to during the regular season — including consolation-round victories over Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen on Saturday afternoon — to capture third place and earn a spot in the state duals.
Boyertown (17-7) began the day with a 44-19 elimination of Spring-Ford, a team it had lost to 28-24 just three days earlier, to clinch one of the district’s four berths in state play. Then won its second match in two days over Upper Perkiomen, 35-31.
Upper Perk (17-7), which finished 2-2 in the tournament, had clinched a state duals spot earlier in the day with a 42-21 win over Council Rock South.
“I don’t want to see any more PAC-10 teams ever,” Boyertown coach Pete Ventresca said with a laugh. “It’s insane. That’s a testimony to how tough our league is. The league (individual) tournament (in two weeks), we’ll battle it out again.”
Against Upper Perk, Eddie Kriczky started out with a win by technical fall for the Bears at 126 pounds. Then the Indians bounced back with a major decision by Dylan Steffenino, a pin by Wolfgang McStravick, and a 10-4 decision by Dan Jordan for a 13-5 advantage.
But Boyertown freshman Gregg Harvey tuned the tide with a 4-3 nod over senior standout Kyle Fellman at 152 pounds. That began a string of four straight wins that propelled the Bears into the lead, including a pin by Garrett Abare, a 5-1 win by Cody Richmond, and a 48-second fall by Gray Garber that made it 23-13.
“The key bouts were at 152 and 160,” said Upper Perk coach Tom Hontz. “We had the lead in both of those matches and ended up losing them, and getting pinned at 160. Other than that, we created the matchups we wanted and wrestled very well.”
Casey Cook got the Indians back on track with the pin, but the Bears — who had earned a 40-24 win over Upper Perk in the opening round Friday night — all but wrapped things up with a first-period pin by Jordan Wertz at 220 pounds and a forfeit win to Jordan Wood at heavyweight, then Lucas Miller officially clinched it when he held Dustin Steffenino to a 3-1 decision.
“That’s a good thing,” Ventresca said concerning his team’s two wins in two days over the Indians, who had beaten the Bears 36-33 in early January. “We definitely wanted another shot at them after the first match and our kids came out and performed. It’s always a heated rivalry. I was proud of them.”
“Definitely, it’s fun to get some revenge,” said Harvey, who went 3-1 in the tournament. “It makes us pretty happy as a team.”
Harvey thought the team’s better health was a key reason for the turnaround against the Indians and Rams.
“We had all our guys, we were pretty much healthy, and we were ready to go,” he added. “Keeping the team healthy and hard work in practice is keeping us going at full pace.”
Hontz enjoyed the tournament, despite the pair of setbacks to the Bears.
“It’s good to be part of this,” he said. “It’s disappointing to lose this last one. We just fell a little bit short. You’ve got to tip your cap to their kids.”
Upper Perk will travel to District 3 runner-up Chambersburg (17-5), a 50-6 loser to undefeated state power Central Dauphin in Saturday’s final, for a 7 p.m. match on Monday.
The Bears will open state play at the same time against Spring Grove (23-1), a 30-22 winner over Berks County champion Wilson in Saturday’s District 3 third-place match.
“We want to place,” said Harvey. “That’s our goal.”
“This year we definitely have some good young talent,” said Ventresca, who last took the Bears to the state duals in 2010, when they won the district title. “Those guys solidify our lineup. I’m excited about the next couple of years.”
Boyertown led by just a 16-15 score after eight bouts against the Rams before Garber, Mike Fretz, Jordan Wertz, and Wood pinned the Bears into the lead. … Reuben Maldonado came up with a big win against Spring-Ford when he pinned his man at 138 pounds to wipe out the Rams’ last lead and put the Bears up, 9-6. … Against Council Rock South, Dante Steffenino and Dylan Steffenino got the Indians started with major decisions, and McStravick followed with a pin for a 14-0 advantage. Upper Perk was never challenged after that. … Garber and Wood both went 4-0 in the tournament and Harvey, Richmond and Jordan Wertz were all 3-1. … Dustin Steffenino, Dante Steffenino, McStravick, and Cook all finished 4-0 for the Indians.