Upper Perk teammates Dylan Steffenino, left, and Wolfgang McStravick square off in one of last Wednesday night's wrestle-offs at Upper Perk.
There’s still a lot to be decided in terms of just how well Upper Perkiomen’s wrestling squad will fare in 2011-12, but the team took the first step of that long journey with a respectable representation at the Quakertown Duals last Saturday.
Overall, Upper Perk went 4-1 against some stiff competition, getting the better of Neshaminy (55-24), Wyoming Valley West (44-26), Pittston Area (39-29) and Hazleton (55-18). The Tribe’s lone blemish came in a fourth-round, 51-18 defeat at the hands of Stroudsburg.
Juniors Wolfgang McStravick and Dylan Steffenino, a pair of returning state qualifiers, went a spotless 5-0 in their bouts, as did fellow junior Dante Steffenino. Sophomore Casey Cook went 4-1, all of which came by fall, as Eric Miller, Ray Young and Chris Cornwell had three wins apiece.
The other highlight from this past weekend was head coach Tom Hontz, now in his 22nd year, who picked up his 300th career victory. It came in the second match against Wyoming Valley West, and Hontz finished the afternoon with 302 victories, becoming just the third coach in the area to reach the coveted milestone.
As a team, Upper Perk’s most rewarding, and satisfying, victory of the day had to be the 39-29 thriller against Pittston. Down 24-29 with five bouts left, Upper Perk ran the table from 106-132 to pull off the 15-point swing. Dustin Steffenino (106) started the run with a first period pin, followed by narrow decisions from brother Dante Steffenino (113) and Kyle Fellman (120). Dan Jordan used a major at 126 to give the Indians some breathing room, and Dylan Steffenino shut the door with a second-period technical fall.
Things went a little easier in the Indians’ opener against Neshaminy, with McStravick, Weeks, Young, Cook, Cornwell, Tyler Godshall, Dante Steffenino and Fellman all getting the slap. Miller (106), meanwhile, picked up the lone decision.
Against Wyoming Valley West, the Tribe again rode the power of the pin as five of the team’s nine bouts were decided by fall. Wrestlers who won by fall included Daron Pijanowski, Cook, Cornwell, Eric Force and Dante Steffenino. Dylan Steffenino, McStravick, Young and Miller all won by decision.
Upper Perk will look to use the experience to springboard into bigger and better things. The team traveled to North Penn last night to take on the Knights before opening the Pioneer Athletic Conference tonight against Perkiomen Valley at home. Hontz and company will look to improve on its 7-2 record in the league last year, 15-10 overall.
With only three lost to graduation, the team returns a host of familiar faces from last season, as well as young talent. The variable, according to Hontz, is how healthy his team can stay, as the lineup isn’t particularly deep.
League competition will continue to be tough, as defending PAC-10 champion Owen J. Roberts is off to a 5-0 start thanks to its effort this past weekend in the Bear Duals. Spring-Ford, also expected to be in the mix, took second place at the SEPA Classic last weekend in Wissahickon, while perennial contender Boyertown got off to a 1-4 start after its showing in the Bear Duals.
As usual, Upper Perk will be on the move during the holidays, starting with the King of the Mat Tournament at North Davidson High School, North Carolina from Dec. 20-22. After that, the team will hit the road again, this time to Virginia to compete at the prestigious Battlefield Duals from Jan. 5-7.
Once back at home, the team will focus on the PAC-10 portion of its schedule in its bid for a title run. Upper Perk has garnered plenty of success both individually and as a team over the past few years, but the one goal that has eluded the squad since 2006 has been a PAC-10 title. With a lineup that includes some serious talent, as well as some up-and-comers, it’s an attainable goal as long as the team sticks to Hontz' plan, which stresses the fundamentals and hard work.