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'08-'09 Bear grapplers were resilient bunch

by Jim Davidheiser, Boyertown Times

Posted on March 19, 2009

They were, arguably, not the very highest-skilled squad of wrestlers in Boyertown High history.

With all due respect, there have probably been a handful of Bear teams with more depth (in terms of overall experience and measurable talent).

All of that being said ... this latest contingent of BASH grapplers was, perhaps, more focused and more resilient than any team over the past four-plus decades.

The accomplishments and the statistics speak volumes.

Here's a glance ...

At the season-opening Bear Duals, B-town went 4-1, including a pair of victories over Council Rock North.

And at the prestigious Beast of the East tournament, the locals placed seventh in the always-formidable team field.

Boyertown went 3-1 at the Cedar Cliff Duals, another indication of a balanced and effective approach on the state-wide mats.

When it came to the PAC-10 wars, the Bears were a perfect 9-0, claiming their third consecutive league title and their first outright PAC-10 crown.

How impressive? Consider that B-town defeated Spring-Ford by 56-15, Owen J. Roberts by 41-20 and Upper Perkiomen by 43-17.

In the District 1-AAA Duals finale, Quakertown registered an anomaly of sorts, the BASH wrestlers suffering a 54-16 setback.

Then just three days later, B-town traveled to LaSalle (Philadelphia's premium team) for a State Duals opener, the locals shocking LaSalle by 41-21.

As the State Duals competition continued on the Giant Center mats in Hershey, the Bears gave new meaning to "turnabout" via a 32-30 victory over that same Quakertown squad. And the BASH grapplers followed that with a 36-28 win over Bethel Park, thus placing them in the top six of all AAA teams in Pennsylvania.

When all was said and done, this B-town troop had compiled a 22-7 overall dual mark for the '08-'09 campaign.

And in post-season competitions ...

Boyertown scored a trifecta of runner-up team finishes, in the Sectional, District 1 Central and Southeast Regional tournaments.

Then the Bears concluded their astounding year by advancing no less than four wrestlers to the Hershey mats for the Pa. State (individual) Championships. Jeremy Minich, Matt Malfaro, Alex Pellicciotti and Tim Feroe all tasted victory at the Giant Center; and Pellicciotti claimed a second straight seventh-place medal.

BASH head coach Pete Ventresca: "I felt as though we truly performed exceptionally well this year. This was arguably one of the best teams Boyertown has ever had ... and they did not disappoint.

"The season proved that every wrestler is so important for our overall team success. We had many matches where we had to have an unsung hero step up ...and with the match on the line, that individual would perform over and above expectations ... Our team learned a lot about ourselves ... and about the importance of working together to reach our true potential."

In terms of individuals, a slew of Bear grapplers compiled winning records en route to the remarkable run.

Seniors Feroe (42-10), Charles Jones (11-5), Ryan Kemmerer (20-3), Adam Kolb (17-14) and Trevor MacMinn (21-16); juniors Adam Benfield (18-16), Malfaro (41-8), and Pellicciotti (48-5, new single season mark); sophomores Zach Heffner (30-8), Adam Kulp (1-0), Minich (41-7) and Connor Oswald (2-1); and freshman Jon Neiman (16-14) were collectively 308-107. (Not too shabby.)

Ventresca gushes when he offers: "We had great leaders this year. Our captains (Feroe and Pellicciotti) as well as our upperclassmen helped us to get the most out of everyone on the team.

"And ... I believe we could have a very good team next year, provided that we can get everyone (situated) in their best weight classes."

An encore after a BASH wrestling season such as the one just concluded?

Local mat enthusiasts are salivating at the mere suggestion.

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