Friday, February 22, 2013

WRESTLING: Injury can’t take away Steffenino standard of excellence

From left, brothers Dante, Dustin and Dylan Steffenino have starred at Upper Perkiomen during their wrestling careers. All three qualified for this weekend's District 1 West Tournament, but Dylan Steffenino will be forced to sit it out due to a lingering shoulder injury suffered early in the season. (Photo by Tom Kelly III)

By Don Seeley

Halfway through his consolation semifinal last Saturday afternoon at the Pioneer Athletic Conference Championships, Dylan Steffenino screamed in pain … screamed loud enough to be heard throughout the Boyertown High School gymnasium.
Rita Steffenino, shaken by her son’s reaction, hastily stepped halfway down the stands, literally begging to stop the match. Mike Steffenino held his wife by her arm, his way of assuring her everything would be OK.
Actually it wasn’t.
The Upper Perkiomen senior had almost ran out of injury time, but courageously finished the match — a disheartening 4-2 loss to Pottstown’s Bryant Wise — just as he had all of the previous ones since returning from elbow surgery that cost him nearly two months of what was to be a very rewarding season.
Moments later, following a conversation with his parents and head coach Tom Hontz, it was decided the 126-pound Steffenino would return for the fifth-place final … and that would be it.
“We went up to Dylan and told him he’s not (healthy),” Hontz explained. “We told him, ‘Win this next one and go out with a victory.’
“It’s been real difficult for his parents having to watch him when he’s not 100 percent. They liked the idea of one last match, and Dylan seemed in favor of it, too.”
“(Hontz) just told me to go out, get that win, and we’ll pull the plug,” Steffenino added.
Like he has so often in his career, Steffenino ended it all with a pin to earn what would’ve been a spot in today’s opening round of the District 1-Class AAA West Tournament at Spring-Ford. Instead, he’ll be matside, hooting and hollering, like he has so often in his career, for twin brother Dante and younger brother Dustin.
“I definitely didn’t want to stop, but thinking long-term it was the best decision for me,” Steffenino said earlier this week. “It took a while for me to believe I was officially done wrestling. It’s been hard to take.”

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