By Don Seeley
FORT WASHINGTON — Unless you’re a fan of wrestling, or at least understand a little bit about the sport, you wouldn’t have been able to appreciate just how good last weekend’s District 1-Class AAA Team Duals were.
Sadly, a whole lot of fans (including many of the high-and-mighty, nameless website critics) weren’t around. The support simply wasn’t there … much like it hasn’t been nearly everywhere this season.
Maybe it was because of the wonderful winter weather we were enjoying, perhaps it was too long of a drive to Upper Dublin High School. Or maybe, just maybe, getting live updates and recaps on Twitter and Facebook (or from someone texting his or her army of friends) was good enough.
But it really wasn’t.
Unfortunately, those who opted not to be there missed what is so great about the sport … the unpredictability, and the excitement as well as drama it so often creates. You get that live, not electronically. And Memorex sure as heck can’t duplicate it, either.
The Pioneer Athletic Conference, unquestionably at its collective best in its 27-year history of wrestling, accounted for a quarter of the original 24 teams in the tournament and half of the eight teams who took center stage Friday night. Three were still around for the curtain call Saturday afternoon.
That alone was impressive.
And all three sure had a lot to do with most of that unpredictability.
Starting with the quarterfinals — Boyertown avenged a 36-33 loss to Upper Perkiomen earlier in the season with a 40-24 romp, and Spring-Ford lost on criteria to Council Rock South.
Next up, the consolations — Upper Perkiomen barely got by Downingtown West (38-30, compared to an earlier-in-the-season 38-28 win), then put a no-doubt-about-it hurtin’ on Council Rock South (42-21). Interesting, considering Upper Perkiomen couldn’t match up earlier this season against Spring-Ford but sure did against the team that beat Spring-Ford just 24 hours earlier. And speaking of Spring-Ford, the Rams regrouped to humble Pennsbury, but then lost by a jaw-dropping 35 points to Boyertown, the same team they beat by four points three days earlier.
Then the consolation final. Yet another Boyertown-Upper Perkiomen go-round.
Remember now, Upper Perkiomen won by three back in early January, and Boyertown won by 16 on Friday night. The third time was indeed the charm – for the fans, that is — as the Bears came up with one big individual upset and held on for a 35-31 win.
That sure was enough excitement and drama for a couple of days.
But Owen J. Roberts, which provided little of either in Friday night romps over Downingtown West and Boyertown, finally managed to contribute a lot of both in Saturday afternoon’s championship final with its 32-24 thriller over Downingtown East.
Yes, as they say, wrestling is all about match-ups. How often have we heard that if Team A beats Team B, and Team B beats Team C, it doesn’t necessarily mean Team A beats Team C.
But last weekend’s district team duals was also about countless wrestlers stepping up to countless challenges, countering the often boring predictability (or defying the odds), creating a lot of excitement, and providing a whole heck of a lot of suspense, or drama.
And for those in the stands, regardless of who they were hooting and hollering for, were fortunate to witness it all.
Quote of the Week came from Boyertown head coach Pete Ventresca, whose Bears wrestled all four of their weekend matches against rivals Owen J. Roberts, Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen (twice): “I don’t want to see anyone from the PAC-10 the rest of the season,” Ventresca said before breaking into a laugh. … Not so quick, though, because the Bears have Pope John Paul II this Wednesday, then get together with everyone for one day — Saturday, Feb. 16 – for the inaugural PAC-10 Championships (in the Boyertown gym, no less).
Owen J. Roberts, which extended its PAC-10 winning streak to 34 in a row with the win over Pottstown last Wednesday, will attempt to make it 35 straight and pin down its third consecutive unbeaten title run this Wednesday at home against Phoenixville. … The two-time district duals champions — who also own a 39-match winning streak against District 1 opponents — head out to Hershey on Thursday for the Class AAA state duals. The unbeaten Wildcats (17-0) open against District 2 champion Delaware Valley (16-2) at 6 p.m. in the Giant Center.
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.