With the women’s softball season about to begin, six wrestlers headed for national championships and baseball and archery seasons underway, it is a busy time for Pennsylvania College of Technology athletes.
The Wildcats are coming off a disappointing 11-19 season, but a strong finish a year ago that saw them win five of their last six games and just miss the Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs – and a great fall season – has coach Roger Harris optimistic about the campaign.
“I have very positive hopes. We have a lot of returning players, plus we have picked up some very talented girls and a lot of speed,” said Harris, who is in his 13th season. Penn College opens its season Monday in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where it will play eight games in four days.
Returning players include sophomores Delaney Blubaugh, of Waynesboro, a pitcher and third baseman; Alexandra Brennan, of St. Clair, a shortstop, outfielder and pitcher; Samantha Hill, of Montgomery, a third baseman; Katie Kratzer, of Selinsgrove, an outfielder and pitcher; Nichole LoFurno, of Glen Mills, a shortstop, outfielder and second baseman; Rachael Shaeffer, of Hampstead, Md., a catcher; Kim Walter, of Beavertown, a pitcher, second baseman and outfielder; Katelyn Wertz, of Bernville, an outfielder; and Karey Wolfe, of Milton, a second baseman.
Walter and freshmen Arika Stopper, of Jersey Shore, and Brianne Brewer, of St. Clair, will lead the pitching staff, with Brennan, Krotzer and Delaney seeing mound duty, too.
Other freshmen on whom Harris is counting are Brittney McHugh, of Frederick, Md., a first baseman; Marie Lucas, of Reedsville; an infielder-outfielder; Jessica Gmerek, of Bellefonte, a catcher-outfielder; and Stephanie Hawk, of Stroudsburg, an outfielder.
“Defensive, I think we will be very strong. Offensively, it looks very good, too. We have a lot of speed. With the combination of the power we have and the speed we have, we’re looking to do some very creative things on the base paths,” Harris said.
“The team is looking forward to getting out and being able to practice outside, which will be completely different than their inside practice,” the coach continued.
“We’re going down (to South Carolina) with the attitude that it’s spring training. We’re going to be a little creative with things while we are down there, see what we have to work on while we are down there, and then come back and work on it,” Harris added.
The Wildcats open their home season at 2 p.m. March 26, hosting Wilson College at Elm Park.
Representing Penn College in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Championships at Allen, Texas, Friday through Sunday will be sophomore Dan Frankenfield, of Dushore, in the 174-pound weight class; and freshmen Troy Leid, of Terre Hill, at 157; Joe Champluvier, of Laceyville, also at 157; Mason Replogle, of New Enterprise, at 141; Mike Failla, of Beach Lake, at 197; and Pat Fitzgerald, of Port Royal, also at 197.
“I’m always looking for the guys to wrestle their absolute very best at nationals. They have had some tough competition throughout the year and we’re looking for them to try to get on that podium,” Wildcats coach Schuyler Frey said.
The key to success at this level, said the fourth-year coach, is “to keep their composure, keep their focus, not to get all wrapped up in the moment. One of the biggest issues for a guy in his first time at nationals, or a state or big tournament, those nerves really play a lot into their performance. It’s just staying loose, staying low-key and then going out and having fun and wanting to compete.”
This will be the team’s fourth trip to nationals under Frey. Penn College finished tied for 42nd in 2011, 17th in 2012 and 20th last year.
“Certainly, we always want to improve and it depends on who shows up for it. This year, having mostly freshmen, it’s going to be a tough chore for them, but, as we progressed through the season, I’ve continued to see each of the guys improve and get better. We’re going to be hitting some really good competition, so hopefully we’re up for the challenge,” Frey said.
The Wildcats will continue to wrestle in the NCWA until the college becomes a full-fledged member of the NCAA a couple of years down the road, but Frey is quick to point out, “I always tell people that the NCWA, the All-Americans there, would be very competitive at D-III. They would definitely be placing at D-III (nationals).”
“I’m sort of surprised that we’re at the end of the season already, but I’m really looking forward to this young group getting the experience and going down there and having fun with it,” Frey said, noting that, during last weekend’s Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships, he made contact with “a lot of nice recruits, so next year we’ve got a lot of bigger and better things coming.”
Friday’s scheduled opener at Southern Virginia University was canceled due to a late-winter storm, but the weather looked much more promising as it started a seven-game stretch in five days at Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sunday.
Pennsylvania College of Technology archers opened their season with two firsts and two seconds at the U.S. National Indoor East Regional Championship in Lancaster on March 1-2. In all, 95 archers from nine schools competed.
Kelvin Dewalt, of Easton, and Kendel Baier, of Jersey Shore, won individual championships in the men’s and women’s bowhunter divisions, respectively, while Matt Cummings, of Mountville, and Nicole Lapinski, of Bloomsburg, placed second in men’s and women’s compound shooting, respectively.
Also finishing among the top 5 in their respective divisions for Penn College were Markus Weber, of La Plata, Md., in men’s compound, and Greggory Foust, of Murrysville, in men’s recurve, both fourth; and Courtney Deshong, of McConnellsburg, in women’s bowhunter; Justus Leimbach, of Westminster, Md., in men’s compound; Ashley Baker, of Coudersport, in women’s compound; and Max Trainor, of Hawley, in men’s recurve, who all placed fifth.
Next, the Wildcats travel to Storrs, Conn., for their first outdoor competition, the Northeast Collegiate Archery Tournament, on March 29.
Results of Penn College archers:
1. Kelvin Dewalt, 1,149; 8. Robert Heinrich, 1,083; 9. Matt Lech, 1,079; 13. Chris Lafey, 1,041.
1. Kendel Baier, 1,136; 5. Courtney Deshong, 952; 7. Holly Neely, 866; 8. Kathreen Larsen, 781.
2. Matt Cummings, 1,140; 4. Markus Weber, 1,135; 5. Justus Leimbach, 1,132; 8. Cody Wolfe, 1,113.
2. Nicole Lapinski, 1,143; 5. Ashley Baker, 1,118; 13. Abigail Hricko, 1,051.
4. Gregg Foust, 1,056; 5. Max Trainor, 1,011; 6. Stephen Keys, 995.
15. Julie Carr, 675; 18. Alana Androvette, 571; 21. Pamela Hartman, 347.
PENN COLLEGE SCHEDULES/RECORDS
Friday, March 7 – at Southern Virginia University, canceled
Sunday, March 9 – vs. Lancaster Bible at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 9 – vs. Sauk Valley Community College, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 4 p.m.
Monday, March 10 – vs. Spoon River Community College, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 10 a.m.
Monday, March 10 – vs. West Virginia Wesleyan, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 11 – vs. Penn State Schuylkill, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 10 a.m.
Wednesday, March 12 – vs. West Virginia Wesleyan, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 13 – vs. Sauk Valley Community College, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 22 – host Baptist Bible College (2) at Bowman Field, 1 p.m.
Monday, March 10 – vs. Ursinus College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9 a.m.
Monday, March 10 – vs. SUNY IT at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, March 11 – vs. McKendree University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, March 11 – vs. PSU Harrisburg at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 12 – vs. Dakota State University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 12 – vs. Arcadia University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, March 13 – vs. Bemidji State University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9:30 a.m.
Thursday, March 13 – vs. Gordon College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, March 22 – at Elmira (N.Y.) College (2), 1 p.m.
Overall record: 1-8
PSUAC record: 0-2
Friday-Sunday, March 14-16 – NCWA Championships at Allen, Texas
March 29-30 – Northeast Collegiate Tournament at Storrs, Conn.