Dan Heinrichs squares off against Spring-Ford's Nick Perri in the 195-pound bout. Heinrichs lost after he was pinned.
So much for easing into the Pioneer Athletic Conference portion of the schedule.
While Upper Perkiomen’s wrestling team gladly would have accepted an opponent who would helped to build some confidence and momentum in the early goings of the season, the Indians got none of that when Spring-Ford came to town last Friday.
The Rams are out to prove the PAC-10 title race is not a one-team show with Owen J. Roberts, and then everyone else in the rearview mirror.
And they made their message, evidenced by the 42-23 loss they tacked against the Indians in both teams’ PAC-10 opener, in an early league showdown that the rest of the PAC-10 took notice of.
Upper Perk (0-1, 3-3) got a tough draw as the match started at 170 against some talented Rams upperweights. And the visitors took full advantage of the start, claiming the first five bouts to stake out a 27-0 lead.
The Indians got on the board as Dustin Steffenino posted a technical fall in the third period at 106, to which brother Dante added a 6-0 decision at 120 to make it a 33-8 spread. But a forfeit at 126, a spot usually manned by Dylan Steffenino, who is out with an injury, made the Rams’ lead insurmountable with five matches left. To Upper Perk’s credit, the Indians won four of five of those middleweight match-ups, which included a 6-4 nod from Dan Jordan (132), an 8-3 decision from Wolfgang McStravick (138), 6-2 victory from Kyle Fellman (145) and a second-period pin out of Trevor Weeks (160).
Before the match, Upper Perk inducted three members into the Upper Perkiomen Wall of Fame. Inductees included Jim Nyce, a founding member of the Upper Perkiomen Takedown Club and the Upper Perk Braves youth wrestling organization, and Mark Smith and Darren Kern. Smith, a 2002 Upper Perk grad, amassed a 161-19 record in high school, setting a then state record for pins at 124. The three-time state medalist went on to East Stroudsburg University, where he posted a 99-42 record and set ESU’s school record of pins at 60.
Kern, who is currently serving our country in the armed forces, graduated from UPHS in 2004 with a 154-26 career mark. He took silver at states his senior year and went to Bloomsburg University where he compiled a 53-36 record and was a 2008 NCAA Division 1 qualifier.
A week earlier, Upper Perk was in action in Nevada at the Reno Tournament of Champions. The Indians boasted a pair of place winners in Dustin Steffenino and McStravick. Steffenino worked his way to a fourth-place finish while McStravick battled his way to sixth at 138. Their efforts helped Upper Perk to a respectable 29th place finish with 67.5 points as a team out of a field of well over a hundred schools from across the country. Defending PIAA champion and District 7 power Canon-McMillan took home the tourney’s top honors with a score of 225.5.
Steffenino posted a 26-second fall, and then two, one-point decisions before he fell 11-3 to eventual runner-up Joey Cisneros. He battled back with an 8-0 major in his first consolation bout and fell 8-2 to Brendan Price of Canon-McMillan in his medal bout.
McStravick posted a bye, second-period pin and a 4-0 decision before he came up a point short in his semifinal match. He wrestled back with a pin and a pair of decisions before he fell 9-6 to Chris Garcia, who beat McStravick in that one-point showdown in the semifinals.
Upper Perk will take part in the Christmas City Wrestling Tournament this weekend at Bethlehem Catholic High School and take part in the Parkland Duals the following week. The team will return home Wednesday, Jan. 5 to entertain Boyertown.