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Penn College baseball, archery starting

Penn College wildcatAs seasons ended for Pennsylvania College of Technology basketball teams over the weekend, the college’s wrestlers are preparing for NCAA Division III regionals and its baseball and archery teams are set to open this weekend. Also, a new women’s soccer coach has been named.

Chris Howard enters his 16th season as the head coach on the cusp of his 300th career win – his record is 299-206 – with a mix of returning and incoming players who are excited about a normal season.

When the Wildcats step onto the field in their scheduled opener on Saturday in a doubleheader at Stockton University, they will do so with returning players at all starting field positions, other than catcher, and a pitching staff that includes the entire starting rotation from last year’s team that finished 10-13 and reached the United East semifinals.

Despite that, Howard is quick to point out, “We are still a relatively young squad even though we have several players who are in their third and fourth years.

“With COVID canceling the 2020 season (and 23 conference-only games last year), we have third-year players who have yet to play a full 40-game season. In fact, they’ve only played 33 games total in the past two years. It will be a learning experience for everyone on the roster with the exception of Jacob Carles and Sam Zeigler, the only players on the roster to experience a full college season since this will be the first full season in three years.”

Carles, of Bernville, an all-conference second-team honoree last season, will see action in left field, and Zeigler, of Palmyra, will see mound duty. Both are seniors.

Joining Carles in the outfield will be junior Jake Wagner, of Palmyra, whom Howard describes as “rock-solid,” and junior Kolten Smith, of Millville.

Freshmen outfielders expected to see action include Tristan Current, of Reinholds; Anthony Barbella, of Livingston, New Jersey; and Kevin Cute, of Glenside.

Junior Tyler Rudolph, of Hemlock, New York, returns at first base; with junior Keegan Nytz, of Allentown, at second base; senior Brian Robison, of Quakertown, at shortstop; and juniors Shane Price, of Kersey, and Cameron Dick, of Dillsburg, splitting time at third base.

“We have nice depth all around the infield with senior Connor Burke, of St. Clair; freshman Jake Burgess, of Sayre; sophomore Alex Jaworski, of Taylor; and sophomore Ian Gagliano, of Hughesville, in the middle infield; and sophomore Dom Harding, of South Williamsport; and sophomore Reese Kauffman, of York Haven, at first base,” Howard said.

Splitting duties behind the plate will be sophomore Drake Mankey, of Williamsport, and freshman Nathan Gustkey, of Philipsburg, with freshman Matt Bailor, of Clearfield, contributing as well, according to the coach.

“The depth throughout the roster gives us multiple choices when it comes to designated hitting. That will be a spot that could see several players making appearances,” Howard noted.

First-team all-conference right-hander Ben Bretzman, a junior from Bendersville, and workhorse right-hander Justin Porter, a junior from Fairless Hills, will anchor the pitching staff with left-handed sophomore Chance Webb, of Hughesville, and junior Cole Culver, of Titusville, right behind them.

“Freshman left-hander Brock Moyer, of Williamsport, was impressive in the fall and will be a big key on the mound for us this year. Freshman right-hander Zac Weaver, of Pottstown, will be competing for not only midweek starts but a chance to see some weekend starts as well,” Howard said.

“Coming out of the bullpen leading the way will be sophomore right-hander Joel Verrico, of Montoursville,” Howard said. “Zeigler will be relied on quite a bit this year along with freshmen Zach Ellis, of Gilbertsville, and Gabe Reptsik, of Pennsburg. Junior Andrew Snyder, of Whitehall; and freshmen Zak Underkoffler, of Tower City; Tristan Current, of Reinholds; and Kevin Cute, of Glenside, will also see innings on the hill.

“We are all looking forward to getting out there and competing. Regardless of youth and inexperience, our goal every year is to get to the United East Conference tournament and compete for a conference championship and this year is no different.

“As a coach, I am looking to see if we are improving every game and giving max effort in the process. One thing that I am certain of is that everyone is anxious to get on the field and play a ‘normal’ season.

“The effort and commitment have been there since we showed up in August and I’m excited for what this season has in store for us.”

Going on three years since its last full season – and nearly two years since firing its last arrow in collegiate competition – the Penn College archery team faces a reboot after producing 43 All-Americans from 1997-2019.

Just one archer, sophomore Alex Edwards, of Kutztown, returns from the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened 2020 season – last season was canceled – as the Wildcats prepare for their season opener on Friday and Saturday in the USA Archery Indoor Nationals at Harrisonburg, Virginia.

“The program has not been decimated – just put on hold,” second-year coach Dustin Bartron said. “We are young and small. These archers are the foundation for the rebuild after COVID.

“Our competition has seen the same break in competition, so we are all in the same boat. It is important to get our culture back and stick to the philosophy we have in the past. Incoming students are expressing a lot of interest in the archery program here.

“We need work. The talent is there but we do not have a lot of experience in the USA Archery competitions. This format and size of competition will be new to many of the archers and will take some adjustments after they experience it for the first time.”

Edwards will compete in the men’s compound event, along with teammates Noah Burke, a sophomore from Tionesta, and freshman Jonathon Vough, of Athens.

Alexis Burrell, of Danville, and Cierra Beatty, of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, are the only juniors on the team and both will compete in women’s bowhunter.

Competing in men’s bowhunter will be sophomores Brandon Fisher, of McClure, and Dyson Renn, of Hellam, and freshmen Jansen Balmer, of Ephrata, and Atley Cooper, of Honey Brook.

Rounding out the team is sophomore Grant Walters, of Dover, who will compete in men’s barebow.

The progress that Bartron is seeking is “for the archers to turn passion and natural talent into results.”

“We will be strong in team rounds outdoors – we will be able to field teams of three strong shooters – (while) many other schools have one top shooter, a decent shooter and one spot filler,” the coach said.

“COVID has been hard on work ethic. We will be much stronger as a team and as individuals if everyone is committed and works as hard as several are,” Bartron continued, stressing that “hard work” will be the key.

“I believe this season will be successful,” Bartron said. “We are fielding one of the smaller teams this year but I think by the time we start competing we will have some strength and depth. I will take quality over quantity every day!

“I am very excited to see these archers perform this year. I think we will see a lot of growth in the archers from now to May.”

The team’s four-event season will culminate in May at the USA Archery National Championships.

Going into Saturday and Sunday’s Mideast Region Championships at Elizabethtown College, Penn College coach Jamie Miller looks for his team to fill at least nine of 10 weight classes. They include (season records in parentheses):

125 – Ryan Berstler (15-12)
133 – Patrick Snoke (11-8)
141 – Noah Hunt (13-10)
149 – Colin Jens (15-14)
157 – Logan Ledebohm (4-7)
165 – Jesse Walker (8-7)
174 – Andy Muzika (4-6)
184 – Garrett Storch (7-7)
197 – Gabriel Kennedy-Citeroni (3-17)

“Berstler, of Middletown; Snoke, of Northampton; Hunt, of Muncy; and Jens, of Centreville, Maryland, have been very competitive with the top-ranked guys at their respective weights all year. They will go toe-to-toe with anyone in their brackets,” Miller said. “I don’t think anyone is going to be excited to see the guys from 157-184, either. Because of the time missed throughout the year, they haven’t had the body of work but they are competitors and they will be tough to beat. Should be fun to watch!”

Ledebohm is from Mechanicsburg and Kennedy-Citeroni is from Blairsville.

Assessing the Mideast Region that includes D-III wrestling power RIT, recently ranked No. 17 in the nation, Miller said, “We are in a very competitive region, but then again they are all very competitive. It takes a very unique combination of talent, mental toughness and having a relentless will to win to place at the regional tournament. The guys with the right combination of those things typically end up on the podium at the end of the year.”

When the Wildcats last competed at regionals in 2020 (there was no tournament last year because of the pandemic), they finished 15th in an 18-team field with 21.5 points. Ithaca College and The College of New Jersey shared top honors with 144.5 points each.

Coping with injuries is something every team faces during the season and Miller pointed out, “Our team leader and starter at 165, Walker, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, missed the majority of the season with an injury as did his backup Muzika, of Chalfont. We lost our starting 184, Jake Kallenborn, of Port Allegany, to graduation at midseason and his backup, Dylan Toback, of Kinnelon, New Jersey, to injury. Our starting 174, Storch, of Canton, missed significant chunks of the year for a variety of reasons.

“As good as we wrestled from 125-149, we just couldn’t seem to overcome the injuries to the back end of our lineup. Fortunately, we are excited to get many of these guys back for the regional tournament.

“Wrestling is a ridiculously tough sport to compete in at the college level. These guys have been making weight every weekend since the beginning of November. They have been training every week at a ridiculously high level. They have wrestled some of the best competition on the East Coast. Regardless of how things turn out at regionals, I’m overwhelmingly proud of the effort put in by every guy this year. I’m truly grateful to be a part of this program with this group of guys.”

Concluding the regular season on Sunday in the Mideast Futures Tournament at Muhlenberg College, T.J. Bodei Jr., of Toms River, New Jersey, at 133 and Esterbrook at 157 picked up the lone Penn College wins and both went 1-2. Also for Penn College, Charles Trimber, of Moon Township, at 125; Kevin Bowne, of Pocono Lake, at 133; Mason Saeler, of St. Marys, Ohio, at 165; Muzika at 174; and Tobak and Patrick Chesanek, of Thomaston, Connecticut, both at 184, all ended the day 0-2.

Ian SchellerWomen’s soccer
Ian Scheller, a Sunbury native and Penn College graduate, was named the head women’s soccer coach, it was announced Wednesday.

“We’re excited to add Ian to our staff,” Penn College Interim Director of Athletics Britni Mohney said. “His experience and knowledge of the game will be a great benefit to our student-athletes. His energy for the sport and the institution will be contagious for both our department and our community.”

“Ian’s passion and insight was very evident during the search process, and we’re excited for the future of the women’s soccer program,” Penn College Interim Director of Athletics Matt Blymier said.

Scheller started in 65 matches on Penn College men’s soccer team from 2014-17 and was a three-time captain.

He spent the last four seasons as the assistant women’s coach at Lycoming College and three seasons as the head boys coach at Loyalsock Township High School, where he guided the Lancers to a pair of Heartland Athletic Conference championships and twice was named the conference coach of the year.

“I am incredibly excited to be back coaching at my alma mater. Many people often wish they could go back and contribute to their school in some way, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to do just that,” Scheller said. “I look forward to using the experience I have gained to lead the women’s soccer program and build upon its successful history.”

Scheller succeeds Christa Matlack, who resigned at the end of last season. In four years – three competitive – under Matlack, the Wildcats were 28-28-1 and reached postseason play twice.

Men’s basketball
Hosting UE co-leader Lancaster Bible College on Tuesday, Penn College gave the Crusaders all they could handle in a 78-73 Lancaster win. The Wildcats led by nine for the first time at 61-52 before a flurry of missed shots allowed Lancaster Bible to regain control with an 11-0 run. Chris Coyne 3-pointers helped Penn College go back on top twice over the last 5:07, the last time at 71-70 with 1:59 on the clock, before the Crusaders closed with an 8-2 run and pulled out their win. Coyne, of Glen Mills, led Penn College with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Seeking a season sweep against Morrisville State University in its final United East game of the season, Penn College dropped an 88-78 decision on Saturday. Penn College ends its season 5-18 overall and 5-11 in the conference. During a first half that saw seven ties and numerous lead changes, the Wildcats forged a 42-39 halftime lead and went out in front by nine at 59-50 with 12:23 left in the game. But Morrisville outscored Penn College 38-19 the rest of the way for its win. Coyne and Gavin Barrett, of Roselle, New Jersey, each finished with 19 points for Penn College while Max Jackowsky, of Garnet Valley, scored 14 and James Ross, of Loyalsock Township, added 10 points.

UE final standings: Penn State Harrisburg, 14-1; Lancaster Bible College, 14-1; St. Mary’s (Md.) College, 12-4; Wells College, 10-5; Penn State Abington, 6-9; Morrisville State University, 6-10; Penn College, 5-11; Gallaudet University, 3-13; Penn State Berks, 0-16.

Women’s basketball
Penn College lost to Lancaster Bible College in UE play on Tuesday, 73-50. As has been the case in several games this season, the Wildcats led after the first quarter but Lancaster used a 46-19 advantage in the second and fourth quarters to record its win. Maci Ilgen, of Penns Valley; Rachel Teats, of Middleburg; and Cassi Kuhns, of Loyalsock Township, each scored 13 points for Penn College.

Wrapping up its season on Saturday in UE action at Morrisville State University, the Wildcats lost, 61-50. Nine-point Morrisville scoring advantages in the first and third quarters proved to be the difference in the outcome as Penn College finished 7-16 overall and 6-10 in the conference. Teats led the Wildcats with 12 points and Kayleigh Miller, of Sayre, scored 10.

UE final standings: Gallaudet University, 13-3; Morrisville State University, 13-3; Penn State Harrisburg, 11-5; St. Mary’s (Md.) College, 10-6; Lancaster Bible College, 10-6; Penn State Abington, 6-9; Penn College, 6-10; Wells College, 2-13; Penn State Berks, 0-16.

Men’s lacrosse
At home in a nonconference match with Shenandoah University on Wednesday, Penn College lost, 15-5. Guerin San Agustin, of Old Bridge, New Jersey, scored two goals for the Wildcats as their season record was leveled at 1-1. Shenandoah led in shots, 50-35, and shots on goal, 30-18.

On Saturday at Drew University, Penn College fell, 13-6, in nonconference action to drop to 1-2 overall. Ryan Cordano, of Williamstown, New Jersey, led the Wildcats with two goals. Drew led in shots, 46-32, and in shots on goal, 27-16.

The college ended 20 of 36 in iRacing at CIL NASCAR Kentucky Speedway this past week while teams in Overwatch and Rocket League both suffered 3-0 losses to drop to 0-4; lost 2-1 in League of Legends, which fell to 1-3; and lost 2-0 in CS:GO to go to 1-2.

Men’s basketball
Overall: 5-18
UEC: 5-11
Tuesday, Feb. 15 – host Lancaster Bible College (UE), L, 78-73
Saturday, Feb. 19 – at Morrisville State University (UE), L, 88-78
End of season

Women’s basketball
Overall: 7-16
UEC: 6-10
Tuesday, Feb. 15 – host Lancaster Bible College (UE, Pink Out), L, 73-50
Saturday, Feb. 19 – at Morrisville State University (UE), L, 61-50
End of season

Overall: 5-13
Sunday, Feb. 20 – Mideast Futures Tournament at Muhlenberg College
Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 26-27 – NCAA Mideast Regional at Elizabethtown College, TBA
Friday-Saturday, March 11-12 – at NCAA Division III Championships, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Men’s lacrosse
Overall: 1-2
UE: 0-0
Wednesday, Feb. 16 – host Shenandoah University, L, 15-5
Saturday, Feb. 19 – at Drew University, L, 13-6
Saturday, Feb. 26 – at Albright College, 1 p.m.
Saturday, March 5 – at Immaculata University, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, March 9 – at Alfred University, 5 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 26 – at Stockton University (2), noon
Friday, March 4 – Myrtle Beach Spring Break Tournament, TBA

Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 26-27 – USA Indoor Nationals at Harrisonburg, Va.
Saturday-Sunday, April 23-24 – USA Eastern Regional Collegiate Championships at Harrisonburg, Va.

Monday, March 7 – Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic, North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Monday, Feb. 14 – CIL NASCAR Kentucky Speedway, 20 of 36
Tuesday, Feb. 22 – CIL ROAD Watkins Glen International, 8 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 28 – CIL NASCAR Auto Club Speedway, 8 p.m.

Record: 0-4
Monday, Feb. 14 – vs. Drexel University, L, 3-0
Monday, Feb. 21 – vs. Harrisburg University, 8 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 28 – vs. Messiah University, 8 p.m.

Rocket League
Record: 0-4
Monday, Feb. 14 – vs. Stony Brook University, L, 3-0
Monday, Feb. 21 – vs. Stockton University, 7 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 28 – vs. New Jersey Institute of Technology, 7 p.m.

League of Legends
Record: 1-3
Tuesday, Feb. 15 – vs. SUNY Stony Brook, L, 2-1
Tuesday, Feb. 22 – vs. Southern Virginia University

Record: 1-2
Friday, Feb. 18 – vs. University of South Florida, L, 2-0

For more about the United East, visit the conference website.

For additional information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 27

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