If it seems like individual and duals wrestling tournaments have filled the December landscape, there's a lot of basis to that observation.
Every team in The Mercury's coverage area has participated in at least one of those format competitions just two weeks into the 2013-14 season. Some, like Boyertown, have been honing their skills for the full-fledged league portion of their campaigns with multiple tourney visits: The Bears, for example, have hosted the Brian Bealer Memorial Bear Duals while visiting the King of the Mountain and Beast of the East competitions — all against a lone PAC-10 dual with Pottsgrove along the way.
There won't be any dropoff of area teams' participation in tournaments over the winter holiday break, either. No less than nine local schools have plans to be involved in individual and duals tournaments the weekend between Christmas and New Year's.
Close to home will be The Hill School and Upper Perkiomen, both heading to Bethlehem Catholic for the Christmas City Wrestling Tournament. Pottsgrove will also be somewhat local, the Falcons visiting Hatboro-Horsham for the Wetzel Holiday Classic.
Owen J. Roberts will be at Conestoga Valley for the Buckskin Classic, Phoenixville at Academy Park for the Delco Duals, Pottstown up around Shillington for the Gov. Mifflin Tournament at the district's intermediate school, and Spring-Ford at Manheim Central for its Holiday Classic. Daniel Boone will be heading westward for the ELCO Duals.
Rounding out the list of holiday mat travelers is Methacton, which will venture beyond the confines of the Keystone State for its next competition. The Warriors will go to Delaware for the A.I. duPont Tournament.
And there will be plenty more in the way of duals tourneys for area teams to welcome in 2014: Boyertown (Cumberland Valley Winter Duals), Daniel Boone (Blue Mountain Duals), Methacton (Council Rock North's "Jack Callendar Memorial Rock Yard Duals'), Pottstown (Avon Grove "Devil Duals), Spring-Ford (Biglerville "Canner Duals') and Upper Perkiomen (Parkland Duals) ... all on Jan. 4. Add to that the Phoenixville Duals, which will include Pottsgrove in the field, and you have a rockin' start to the New Year on the mats.
ESCAPE THE ROCKThe ninth annual Escape the Rock Wrestling Tournament will bring together 33 teams the weekend of Jan. 18-19, 2014, at Council Rock South High School in Holland.
Some top teams and individuals from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia will be looking to take top honors in the ETR's latest go-round, the eighth as an individual event. The 2013 tournament offered a stellar field that featured 21 state champions, 72 state place winners, 126 state qualifiers and eight National Prep Tournament place winners. Team post-season accolades included eight that finished in the top 16 at the 2013 PIAA State Tournaments (Solanco, Norristown, Parkland, Chambersburg, Bald Eagle Area, Council Rock North, Northampton and Saucon Valley), the Delaware state champion (Smyrna) and runner-up (Caesar Rodney), plus the three teams that were in the top six at the Virginia state tournaments (Forest Park, Hanover and Brentsville). There were seven teams that qualified for the Pa. and N.J. state dual tournaments (Parkland, Owen J. Roberts, Delaware Valley, Saucon Valley, Chambersburg, LaSalle and Paulsboro). Malvern Prep had a strong 5th place showing at the National Prep tourney.
One highlight from the 2013 ETR competition was a 182-pound final that proved a preview of the PIAA state final between Bald Eagle Area's Jake Taylor and Norristown's Brett Harner, where Taylor prevailed in an epic overtime battle to earn the OW award. Solanco's Thomas Haines became the second three-time ETR champion, setting himself up to make a run at becoming the first four-time Escape the Rock and PIAA champion. Parkland stepped to the forefront in the team race and put seven wrestlers on the podium on their way to its first ETR team crown.
Another positive element of ETR is the incorporation of a charity component into the event, which it has done since 2009. The organization donated the 2013 proceeds from the sale of ETR t-shirts to Coaches vs. Cancer, becoming the first wrestling group to support that effort.
This year's field looks to be another big step up in the level and depth of competition. Returning wrestlers expected to compete at ETR include 12 2013 state champs, 55 state place winners, three 2013 National Prep Champions and 16 prep place winners.
The event will feature nine teams that finished in the Top 16 at the 2013 PIAA State Tournaments, including the PIAA AA State Tournament Champion, the Delaware State Champion and Runner-up, plus the Virginia AAA State Tournament Champion and four additional VA teams that were in the top six at the Virginia State Tournaments (three in AAA, one in AA). Also in the field will be three of the top seven teams from the National Prep Tournament, which includes ETR newcomer and national power Blair Academy, which has won 33 consecutive National Prep Tournament championships.
Also making their first appearances at ETR will be 2013 Virginia AAA State Champion J.W. Robinson. Returning after a one year hiatus are two-time ETR team champion (and three-time defending PIAA State Champion) Bethlehem Catholic and four-time Virginia State Champion Colonial Forge.
Other first-time entrants include home-state teams Pennridge, Bishop McDevitt, Southern Columbia and Kiski Prep; John Carroll from Maryland; and Virginia's New Kent.
The final newcomer is Central High School out of Philadelphia. Central is being sponsored at ETR by "Beat the Streets Philadelphia', a non-profit organization whose goal is to expand opportunities for urban children in the Philadelphia metropolitan area to participate in the sport of wrestling and to provide additional supports to ensure that the individual student-athletes succeed academically. They currently provide full sponsorship for 20 programs with over 900 participants, ranging from ages 4-18, and supplemental support for the vast majority of public high school programs in the city.
"Although we are aware that it will take a consistent effort over many years to effectively compete on a consistent basis with the top programs in the area, our kids are committed to putting forth a year round effort to improve, both on the mat and in the classroom,' said Chris Hanlon, BTS Philadelphia's executive director. "Despite all of these efforts, there is no way to replace wrestling against top level competition on the road to improvement.'
"BTS has teamed up with ETR Wrestling for this very purpose — to make that opportunity available — and both organizations are thrilled to come together and make it happen.'
To Tim Seislove for reaching the 200-win mark with the Spring-Ford wrestling program. Seislove reached that mark last week, courtesy of the Rams' 44-12 win over Upper Perkiomen, adding to his legacy as the program's winningest coach.
Seislove's coaching longevity at Spring-Ford is matched only by his predecessor, Pat Nugent. In a 15-year tenure spanning the 1984 to 1999 seasons, Nugent compiled a 186-102-4 record; he and Seislove are the program's lone head coaches to amass triple-digit wins.
Top Five Teams
1. Boyertown (6-0) ... 12th place at Beast of East.
2. Perkiomen Valley (3-0) ... PAC-10 leader at 2-0.
3. Spring-Ford (1-0) ... Outscoring opponents 44-12.
4. Owen J. Roberts (3-3) ... Won PAC-10 opener.
5. Pottsgrove (3-3) ... Ninth at W.C. East Classic.
1. Jakob Campbell, Boyertown (12-4)
2. C.J. Spalding, Daniel Boone (5-2)
TIE Nick Suero, Spring-Ford (5-2)
HM: Brian Marshall, Perkiomen Valley (4-2); Max Shepherd, Phoenixville (4-2).
1. Logan Pennypacker, Pottstown (6-0)
2. Kylif Underwood, Pottsgrove (6-1)
3. David Campbell, Boyertown (8-5)
HM:Jake Latchum, Perkiomen Valley (4-1);Anthony Davido, Phoenixville (4-2).
1. Derek Gulotta, Owen J. Roberts (8-2)
TIE Dustin Steffenino, Upper Perkiomen (8-2)
3. Owen Powell, Daniel Boone (7-0)
HM: Garrett Mauger, Boyertown (9-4); Ryan Hayes, Spring-Ford (5-1); Bryce Reddington, Methacton (6-3).
1. Lucas Miller, Boyertown (16-4)
2. Eric Straup, Methacton (7-2).
3. Garrett Serwatka, Phoenixville (4-1)
1. Eric Miller, Upper Perkiomen (10-2)
2. Zach Sheehan, Hill School (7-2)
2. Mason Pennypacker, Pottstown (5-0)
HM: Dylan Henry, Methacton (5-0); Matt Krieble, Spring-Ford (4-1); Ryan Finn, Pottsgrove (4-2).
1. Eddie Kriczky, Boyertown (16-4)
2. Dan Jordan, Upper Perkiomen (9-3)
3. Demetri D'Orsaneo, Owen J. Roberts (6-4)
HM: Bryant Wise, Pottstown (5-1).
1. Dylan Wertz, Boyertown (13-4)
2. Joe Staley, Methacton (7-1)
3. Dominick Petrucelli, Owen J. Roberts (6-2)
HM: Adam Dombrosky, Spring-Ford (4-2).
1. Nico DeMetrio, Pottsgrove (10-0)
2. Chad Saunders, Hill School (10-2)
3. Patrick Bohn, Pottstown (6-0)
HM: Jonathan Cooper, Spring-Ford (4-2).
1. Gregg Harvey, Boyertown (13-4)
2. Nick Giangiulio, Perkiomen Valley (6-1)
3. Christian Fernandez, Daniel Boone (6-0)
HM: Darien Hain, Pottstown (4-0).
1. Cody Richmond, Boyertown (11-4)
2. Shayne Bookwalter, Daniel Boone (5-2)
3. Steven Rice, Spring-Ford (4-2)
HM: Michael Collins, Pope John Paul II (3-0).
1. Alec DelllaDonna, Perkiomen Valley (7-0)
2. Nick Duliakas, Owen J. Roberts (7-2)
3. William Scholl, Boyertown (7-4)
HM: Michael Collins, Pope John Paul II (3-0); Taylor Westlake, Spring-Ford (4-1); Jeff Yohn, Daniel Boone (5-2).
1. Jordan Wertz, Boyertown (18-3)
2. Devin Bradley, Methacton (6-1)
3. Omar Elghawy, Perkiomen Valley (5-3).
1. Jordan Wood, Boyertown (15-0)
2. Casey Cook, Upper Perkiomen (6-0)
3. Chris DeFrancesco, Pottsgrove (5-0)
HM: John Hill, Hill School (7-3); Josh Slody, Pottstown (5-1).
1. Tracey Green, Methacton (7-0)
2. Kostya Golobokov, Hill School (7-2)
3. Brody O'Connell, Boyertown (7-4)
HM: Josh Boyer, Spring-Ford (4-1); Justin Crossley, Upper Perkiomen (5-2).
Based on results reported to The Mercury.
Follow Jeff Stover on Twitter at @MercuryXStover.