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Bear mat quartet eyes Hershey venue

by Jim Davidheiser, Boyertown Times

Posted on March 5, 2009

Alex Pellicciotti. Jeremy Minich. Matt Malfaro. Tim Feroe.

Four very-familiar names among Boyertown High wrestling observers.

And ... four young men who are focused on Hershey this week - that's Hershey, as in the imposing Giant Center, site of the 2009 PIAA State Wrestling Championships.

Beginning Thursday and continuing through Saturday (March 5-7), Pellicciotti, Minich, Malfaro and Feroe will be among the hundreds of scholastic grapplers from across the state, striving for medals in one of the nation's premiere mat tournaments.

The four BASH wrestlers survived last weekend's grueling Southeast Regional-AAA tourney (at Oxford). And now, the quartet will be yearning to place an exclamation point on a better-than-outstanding season for Pete Ventresca's 2008-09 squad.

Here's the scoop on the four Bears fixated on the "Chcocolatetown" mats ...

Pellicciotti, a junior 130-pounder, claimed a gold medal at the Regional venue ... his Southeast route included a pin, a major decision and two decisions, including a 4-0 version over Unionville's Mason Popham in the gold-final ... season record stands at 45-3, career mark at 122-17 ... Pellicciotti placed seventh at States a year ago ... probably more focused and technically-prepared than ever ... he's developed into a wrestle who fits into the top echelon of B-town's 40-plus years of mat history ... Pellicciotti opens on Thursday against Big Spring senior Ryan Irvin (32-6).

Minich, a sophomore 112-pounder, was a regional silver-medalist ... last weekend's performance included a pair of falls, a decision and a 2-0 finals setback to Springfield-Delco's Dan Dortone ... he enters the State tourney with a 40-5 season mark and a 72-18 career slate ... Minich truly emerged this year as a dominant BASH force ... his opening-round opponent at Hershey will be Big Spring soph Dereck Enders (30-6).

Malfaro, a junior 119-pounder, compiled this Regional resume en route to his second-place finish - bye, major decision, decision and a 9-4 finals loss to Council Rock North's Zac Haynes ... he's 40-6 on the year and 107-34 career ... a year ago, Malfaro was good but not necessarily impressive ... this season, he has racheted it up a notch or two, and the end-result has been extraordinary ... Malfaro opens his State run against Northampton freshman Jason Stephen (30-15).

Feroe, the lone senior among the Bear foursome, placed third at 152 pounds at Regionals ... last weekend's route included four falls, including his conso finals pin against Great Valley's Travis Donnor ... (a 6-2 setback to eventual champ Jim Vollrath of Council Rock South relegated Feroe to the consolation bracket) ... he's 41-8 on the season and 116-40 career ... Feroe is a pin-afficionado, with 29 falls this season and no less than 75 pins during his four years on the BASH mats ... he has the wrestling wherewithal and tenacity to seriously challenge for Hershey hardware ... Feroe's opening opponent will be Hopewell junior Matt Hundenski (40-2).

Three other BASH grapplers concluded their '08-'09 seasons last weekend ...

Zach Heffner (soph, 189 pounds) placed fifth at Oxford and came up just short of a State berth ... he went 30-8 this season and is 40-15 career ... he'll be a huge component of next year's BASH contingent.

Trevor MacMinn (senior, 125 pounds) went 0-2 on the Regional mats, but that finale was a misnomer ... his season slate read 21-16 and career record was finalized at 60-48 ... MacMinn matured in his final Bear campaign, and his efforts contributed mightily to the locals' overall success.

Tyler Mauger (soph, 160 pounds) also went 0-2 at Oxford ... and his first varsity season concluded at 15-19 ... however, Mauger surprised more than a few at both the Sectional and District tournaments, and his post-season exploits are, no doubt, a precursor to his future mat achievements.

Head mentor Ventresca after the Regional trek: "This was an extremely tough tournament that tested us both physically and mentally ... I was glad to see how well our veteran wrestlers were able to step up and produce in a pressure-filled environment."

Suffice it to say ... Ventresca knows well enough that the Regional "pressure" is small-fry compared to what lies ahead at the Hershey venue.

MAT MEMOS -- Boyertown placed second, team-wise, at last weekend's Regional tourney, with 103 points; Council Rock South claimed the team title with 132 points (68 teams were represented on the Oxford mats) ... AA wrestling will begin at 9:00 a.m. Thursday at the Giant Center; the AAA Preliminaries get underway Thursday at 4:00 p.m.; the tourney's AAA schedule also includes - First Round Consolations Thursday at 7:15 p.m., Quarterfinals Friday at 1:00 p.m., Second Rounds Consos Friday at 2:45 p.m., Semi-Finals and Third Round Consos Saturday at 8:00 a.m., Fourth Round Consos Saturday at 10:30 a.m., Conso Finals Saturday at 6:00 p.m., Championship Finals Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ... NHSCA/Bashwrestling internet coverage of the PIAA State Wrestling Championships will once again be non-stop, start-to-finish, from Thursday morning to late Saturday evening; individual results, team standings and blog commentaries will all be included as part of the comprehensive mat coverage.

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