Section II wrestling: Demetrio, Cenci hit century mark; Upper Perk rules behind 3 individual champs


LOWER POTTSGROVE – T.J. Demetrio stood on the threshold of wrestling greatness Saturday, needing just two victories to get to the coveted 100-career wins plateau.

The entry way was wide open for the Pottsgrove senior. But rather than turn the knob and simply step in, Demetrio decided to kick the door down.

Demetrio ran through his bracket at 152 pounds with the force of a battering ram, earning his milestone victory by dropping Souderton’s Peter Jenne at 5:30 in the semifinals of the PIAA District One Section II Tournament at the Pottsgrove Middle School Saturday.

His workday far from complete, Demetrio overwhelmed Dominic Rigous of CB South 10-4 in the championship final, joining Falcons teammate Zach Robinson atop the medal stand.

“It was a totally awesome day,” said Demetrio, who set the stage for his landmark achievement by registering a fall in his opening bout. “Everything was lined up for the 100th win and my first sectional title. I was expecting it. I was determined to get it.”

Phoenixville’s Ken Cenci had a similar mindset entering the 10-team meet. Like Demetrio, the Phantoms heavyweight had history right within his grasp – one win would get him to 100.

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Cenci wasted little time reaching his destination, turning Upper Perk’s Tyler Stephenson in a mere 12 seconds to record the magical victory.

“It was kind of natural, things just kicked in,” said Cenci of his short shift. “I was wrestling on muscle memory. It feels great to finally get my 100th.”

Career victories 101 and 102 were soon to follow as Cenci recorded a pair of lopsided decisions en route to the 285-pound title, dominating Pottsgrove’s Chris Nester 15-8 in the championship bout.

I’ve put a lot of hard work into the Phoenixville wrestling program,” Cenci said. “One of my first goals coming in this year was to get 31 wins (for 100). Now that I’m there, I’m concentrating on the postseason.”

The postseason has been a mixed bag for Robinson, who earned his fourth straight sectional title by handling returning state medalist Seth Ehlo of Central Bucks West 6-3 in the 145-pound final.

Despite being Pottsgrove’s all-time career leader in wins (124), Robinson has never qualified for states.  But armed with an improved head and body, the Falcons senior expects to add that missing piece this year.

“I feel like I’m in better shape,” said Robinson. “Last year I wouldn’t have won that match. I’m more prepared physically and mentally. My conditioning is improved. Instead of trying to hit just one thing, I’m thinking about working in a couple different moves.

“It’s great to be a four-time sectional champ, but there’s also that other step. This won’t feel nearly as good as it will when I hit that state level and get to wrestle at the Giant Center.”

His teammate, A.J. Demetrio, knows the feeling of performing under the bright lights in Hershey. He is looking to book a return trip.

“This week there was a change in attitude,” Demetrio said. “Coach (Jeff) Madden and all the other coaches prepare us well for the postseason. You need to have a different mentality. We had three hard practices, three days in a row, starting Monday at 6 (a.m.). At this time of the year, it’s all about hard work.”

The intense preparation helped Pottsgrove finish tied for third in the team standings with Quakertown at 105 points. Souderton placed second at 110.

Pioneer Athletic Conference representative Upper Perkiomen got individual championships from Kyle Fellman at 119, Wolfgang McStravick at 125 and Cody Ambrose at 171 in posting 140 points to capture the Section II team title.

“We’re sending a lot of people to districts,” said Fellman, who began the season with five straight losses before regrouping. “To win the team championship at the sectional tournament shows how strong we are. “

Fellman said he was feeling strong after getting some time off between his semifinal and championship matches.

“I was well-rested,” said Fellman, who handled Souderton’s Gregg Donley 7-4 in the final. “That first takedown was real key, it built my confidence up. Once I got that, I knew I could hang on.”

In addition to their three sectional champions, the Indians will also be sending Dante Steffenino (second at 103), Dylan Steffenino (second at 112), Dalton Fleming (second at 189) and Dan Rodenberger (third at 135) to the District 1 AAA North championships next Friday and Saturday at Council Rock North.

Pottsgrove also has seven wrestlers moving on to the district level, led by sectional champs Demetrio and Robinson. Other Falcons qualifiers include Nester (second at 285), Danny Michaels (second at 160), Tyler Wysochanski (second at 215), Nico Demetrio (fourth at 119) and Riley Michaels (fourth at 125).

In addition to Cenci, Phoenixville’s Jordan Valenteen (second at 140) and fourth-place finishers Eddie McCarthy (103), Brendan Bonner (130) and Matt Cermanski (145) are all headed to districts.