The start of the wrestling season and a national championship meet for the men’s cross-country team loom on the horizon for Pennsylvania College of Technology athletes this week while the women’s soccer team celebrates one of its most successful seasons ever.
With just five returning wrestlers, coach Schuyler Frey is quick to point out what it will take for his fourth edition to find team success as he said, “Where we lack in experience, we’ll make up with raw talent and hard-nosed wrestling.”
Expected to start in Saturday’s season opener at the University of Scranton Duals are freshman Dalton Deimler, of Middletown, at 125 pounds; freshman Mason Replogle, of New Enterprise, at 133; sophomore Ryan Hart, of Wyalusing, at 141; either freshman Phil Corle, of Lebanon, or junior Kyle Sunseri, of Athens, at 149; Troy Leid, of Terre Hill; Taylor Porter, of Milton; or Joe Champluvier, of Laceyville, all freshmen, mixing at 157 and 165; sophomore Dan Frankenfield, of Dushore, at 174; freshman Mike Failla, of Beach Lake, at 197; and either Pat Fitzgerald, of Port Royal; or Nick Reber, of Hamburg, both freshmen, at 235 or 285.
Hart was a National Collegiate Wrestling Association All-American at 133 a year ago when the Wildcats finished 13-8 overall (5-1 and second in the Penn State University Athletic Conference), third in the USCAA and 20th as a team in the NCWA.
“(We are) very young with 13 freshman. As they get experience on the college level, I expect them to learn by leaps and bounds. Each one is a gamer,” Frey said.
Assessing his team’s strength, the coach said, “I think with the youth, just a desire to get better as they start to realize their potential. I expect a rough start to the season, but we should be extremely competitive as we get to the postseason.
“It’s a big change from high school to college, and mastering those changes will come with some lumps.”
Frey noted three keys to his team finding success.
“First, staying healthy all year. Second, the veterans helping the new guys learn the ropes, not only on the mats but also in the classroom. Third, using their already-impressive desire to compete and dominate each day in practice and in competition,” the coach said.
Looking ahead, Frey noted, “With us going into the NCAA (next season), we will continue to challenge our guys with the toughest schedule possible. Our goals are simple, train like a national champ, wrestle hard each second of the match and peak at nationals. Everything else will fall in place. Hate to lose, love to win, but it’s the big picture we’re after, getting on the podium in Texas (site of this year’s NCWA championships).
“It’s a great group of young guys who work very hard and are very coachable. Each guy falls in step with the guys we’ve had here at Penn College, no questions asked, just get it done,” Frey said.
Commenting on his assistant coaches, Frey said, “Rich Schnyder brings so much to the table, techniquewise and ideawise. I also have to great volunteer assistants in Crock Herman and Kellon Balum, who both have great wrestling experience. I’m very comfortable in anything the three of them teach.”
Addressing a schedule that includes a handful of NCAA Division III colleges, Frey said, “You’re only as good as your competition. We want to give our guys the toughest we can and continue to get better each day and each competition.”
In three seasons under Frey, Penn College is 19-11.
Competing for Penn College Friday in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship at Syracuse, N.Y., will be senior Ed Knyff, of Ocean Gate, N.J.; junior Dan Flynn, of Blairstown, N.J.; and freshmen Nate Mashack, of Bloomsburg, Tyler Pecora, of Drums, and William Cox, of Ebensburg.
“The team did excellent this year with five guys and our goal is to run our best (at nationals),” first-year coach David Mendez said. “I expect Dan and Nate will be in the top 20.”
Mendez described the 8K course as “one big loop. It’s got a couple of hills in it. It’s a kind of tough course.”
The coach make special note of the progress that Cox, a former U.S. Marine, has made this season as he has improved his time by eight minutes over the past three months. “He did a great job for us,” Mendez said.
The coach also hopes to use the team’s trip to a national event as a recruitment tool as he looks to continue to build the program.
Competing in the USCAA for the second year in a row, the Wildcats went 2-1 to complete an 11-7-2 season. The two wins and a top-six finish are the best showing for Penn College in four trips to the national tournament.
In Wednesday’s opener in Charleston, W.Va., against the University of Maine Machias, both teams scored in the second half. Eighth-seeded Penn College went up 1-0 when Tara Bennethum, of Jonestown, took a corner cross from Robyn Beddow, of Lancaster, at 47:57 and ninth-seeded Machias tied the score in the 77 th minute. After that, the teams went scoreless through three overtimes, forcing a shootout. Machias had dominated play to that point with 34 shots to just 13 for the Wildcats, but freshman Colleen Bowes, of Wayne, was outstanding in goal. The Wildcats won the shootout, 6-5 (sophomore Laresa Paden, of Mifflintown, scored what proved to be the match-winner when Machias’ final shot hit the crossbar and missed), to emerge the victor and earn a rematch in the quarterfinals against top-seeded University of Maine Fort Kent, to which they lost 3-0 during the regular season.
On Thursday against Maine-Fort Kent, Penn College fell 7-0. The No. 1 seed scored five first-half goals and added two in the second half. Bowes and Reda Vermilya, of Turbotville, combined for 13 saves during the match, but it wasn’t enough.
In Friday’s consolation finale, Beddow scored seven minutes into overtime to help lift Penn College to a 2-1 win over SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry. Vermilya recorded 10 saves on 16 shots. After a scoreless first half, Paden scored a goal in the 56 th minute for Penn College before SUNY ESF tied the score in the 67 th minute. During the regular season, the Wildcats fell to SUNY ESF, 3-2.
“Other than the match with Fort Kent (which went on to successfully defend its national championship), we did really, really well. … A lot of players played. A lot of people stepped up. … Overall, it was a really good tournament and a very good way to finish the season,” coach Markus Rybak said.
“I think it sets a big tone (for the team’s future) because it was the strongest schedule ever for the women’s soccer program. There were some matches that, on paper, we should have won, but some teams on paper looked a lot better than us and we pulled out victories,” the coach continued.
“I think going forward to the NEAC (Division III North Eastern Athletic Conference, which Penn College will join next fall), this will be a really, really good. It helps a little bit with recruiting as well. A lot of people are noticing the results and I probably have more interest in the program from potential student-athletes than ever before. Even though the season has ended, I’m already looking forward to next year,” Rybak added.
In four seasons under Rybak, Penn College is 28-27-6.
Thirteen Penn College fall student-athletes earned end-of-the-season all-conference awards and had two Player of the Year selections in senior men’s soccer player Chris Brennan, of New Hope, and junior golfer Corey Teeple, of Lake Ariel. Also, men’s soccer head coach Adam Matter earned Coach of the Year honors.
In men’s cross-country, junior Dan Flynn, of Blairstown, N.J., was first team and freshman Nathan Mashack, of Bloomsburg, was second team; in golf, Teeple, the PSUAC Champion, senior Alex Howe, of Lake Ariel, and freshman Calvin Foust, of Palmyra, all earned first team; in men’s soccer, Brennan and sophomore Luke McFalls, of New Oxford, were named to the first team while senior Phil Bair, of Harrisburg, and junior Jacob Tuck, of Hollsopple, were second team and in women’s volleyball, junior Courtney Gernert, of Palmyra, made first team and senior Rachel Heller, of Allison Park, second team while earning honorable mention were sophomore Loralee Lindemuth, of Tidioute, and freshman Catie Aviles, Robesonia.
Penn College totaled six USCAA All-Americans and four All-Academic Team selections. All-American honors are based on athletic performance throughout the season and are voted on by the institutions of the USCAA. Brennan was the lone First-Team All-American selection. He ranked in the top five in the USCAA in goals with 28. Earning Second-Team honors were volleyball player Gernert and women’s soccer players Beddow and Madilyn Walters, of Lewistown. Gernert led the USCAA in kills per set (4) while Beddow led the Lady Wildcats with 14 goals and Walters with 11 assists. Taking All-American honorable mention honors were sophomore men’s soccer player Luke McFalls, of New Oxford, and freshman women’s soccer player Kelsea Robbins, of Milton. McFalls totaled 12 goals this season while Robbins had 10.
The All-Academic team is comprised of student-athletes that have maintained a 3.5 cumulative grade-point average or better. For men’s soccer, seniors David Munn, of Athens, and Caleb Wise, of Manheim, made the grade as well as Beddow for women’s soccer and Heller for women’s volleyball.
Friday, Nov. 8 – USCAA Championships at Syracuse, N.Y.
Final overall record: 11-7-2
Wednesday, Oct. 30 – vs. University of Maine Machias in USCAA National Championships at Charleston, W. Va., W, 6-5 shootout
Thursday, Oct. 31 – vs. University of Maine Fort Kent in USCAA National Championship quarterfinals at Charleston, W. Va., L, 7-0
Friday, Nov. 1 – vs. SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry in USCAA National Championships at Charleston, W, 2-1 OT
Saturday, Nov. 9 – at Scranton Duals
Tuesday, Nov. 12 – at Penn State DuBois, 7 p.m.