Wrestling notebook: Upper Perk looking for return to 'glory days'

By DAVE KURTZ

Pac-10sports.com

RED HILL – ‘Glory days, well they’ll pass you by,’ are more than the raspy, vocal stylings of some New Jersey-based rocker.

Those lyrics also apply to high school sports, where the cyclical nature of good athletes/bad athletes is as predictable as a three-hour Springsteen show.

Fame is fleeting, scholastic sports dynasties have a limited shelf life. Nobody knows that  better than veteran Upper Perkiomen wrestling coach Tom Hontz, whose Indians are several years removed from those glory days that produced seven PAC-10 championships from 2001-2007 and a staggering 60 straight dual-meet wins during that run.

Boyertown is now the kingpin of the PAC-10, going unbeaten in dual meets over the last two season. But that harsh reality only gives the Tribe extra incentive to retain what they once owned – the league’s wrestling hardware.

“We have three good seniors, but we have a lot of sophomores and freshmen,” said Hontz of a lineup that took down Methacton 36-24 Saturday in the PAC-10 dual-meet season opener for both teams. “We’re lucky to have guys like the Steffenino (brothers) and the McStravicks. Five or six years ago, it was tough (for underclassmen) to even get in the lineup.”

Those times have changed, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sophomore whirlwinds Dante Steffenino (103-pounder), Dylan Steffenino (112) and Wolfgang McStravick (125) are the building blocks for future success at Upper Perk. McStravick is coming off a freshman season in which he went 33-10 and placed sixth in the Southeast Regional, falling just short of qualifying for states.

While steady seniors Dan Rodenberger (140) and Cody Ambrose (171) were sandwiching pins around senior Nate Pompei’s major decision at 160 Saturday, the Indians young guns were also making significant noise in the win over Methacton.

We’re trying to get back to the big goal of winning the PAC-10,” said McStravick, whose fall in 1:10 put a wrap on the opening victory.

The Upper Perk kids know what it means to don that blue-and-gold singlet. They’re well-versed in the program’s rich tradition and heritage. Since 2000, Upper Perk has turned out state champions in Zack Kemmerer (2006, 2007 at 140), Brent Fiorito (2006 at 160) and Chris Sheetz (2005 at 112), 16 Southeast Regional champs and 19 state medalists overall.

Those are some big shoes to fill, big reputations to uphold.

Upper Perk is working toward rediscovering those glory days. It started with the win over Methacton, and continues Wednesday and Thursday during a trip Winston-Salem, N.C. for the 42-team King of the Mat Tournament. Hontz, who wrestled at nearby Duke University in Durham, N.C., will probably be reliving some glory days of his own during the trip.

Home cooking

Phoenixville got gold-medal performances from Ed McCarthy (112 pounds), Matt Cermanski (145), Jordan Valenteen (152) and Ken Cenci (285) at the First Phoenixville Wrestling Classic over the weekend.

The Phantoms also got second-place finishes from  Brendan Bonner (135) and Sam LaPorte (171) en route to a fourth-place team finish in the six-team field. Unionville (113.5 points) took the top spot followed by William Tennent (92), Harriton (90) and Phoenixville (84). Cedar Crest and Northern Lebanon also competed in the event.
"This was the first tournament we've had around here in a while," Phoenixville coach Dave Saville told the Pottstown Mercury. "It was a good experience for everybody. We got a lot of matches for the young guys."

Cenci has fulfilled his ‘heavyweight’ moniker in the 285-pound class this season, posting a 7-1 slate with six falls.

Mauger shines at ‘Beast’

Boyertown senior Tyler Mauger settled for a sixth-place medal at the prestigious 119-team Beast of the East Classic at the University of Delaware over the weekend.

Competing in the 215-pound class, Mauger took his first four matches with a pin, 2 decisions and a major to roll into the semifinals. There, he dropped a 14-6 major decision to eventual champion Kyle Snyder of Good Counsel (Md.). That disappointing loss was followed by a pair of setbacks in the consolation bracket, relegating Mauger to sixth.

Boyertown, which took home the Team Sportsmanship Award and finished in a tie for 18th with Middletown (Del.) with 78 points, also got a strong showing from freshman Ed Kriczky, who went 5-2 at 103 but failed to reach the medal rounds. Compiling 3-2 overall marks over the weekend for Boyertown were  Jon Neiman (152), Chase Garber (160), Zach Heffner (189) and Josh Fiss (285).

Posting strong showings at the Beast for Owen J. Roberts were freshman Colby Frank (4-2 at 119), John Bryant (3-2 at 125) and Gordon Bolig (3-2 at 160).