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Penn College golf, tennis teams set

Although Mother Nature may not always cooperate in the spring, Pennsylvania College of Technology golf and men’s and women’s tennis teams are scheduled to open their seasons over the next week.

Golfers hit the links on Monday at the Lebanon Valley College Spring Invitational while tennis players are scheduled to take to the courts on March 27 at Juniata College.

After several years as an unofficial volunteer assistant, Rob Lytle, of Loyalsock Township, is stepping into the head coaching spot, succeeding Matt Haile, who now will fill the assistant role.

The highlight of Haile’s 12-plus years as the coach came last spring when the Wildcats won the North Eastern Athletic Conference (now United East) championship and became the first Penn College team to compete in the NCAA Division III Championship. Haile also won the conference Coach of the Year award.

Commenting on the transition, Haile said, “He’s (Lytle) a great fit.”

Among the team’s returnees are seniors Sean McNamara, of Lancaster, an all-conference first-team honoree, and Alex Acree, of Brookville, an all-conference second-team member.

“They are hungry to continue the success they had in the fall (one win in three events and a third-place finish in the United East Fall Preview). They are eager to get out and play, and for the seniors on the team (Alex and Sean), they are looking to go out on a high note and continue to set the precedence for the future of the Wildcat golf program,” Haile said.

The starting lineup Monday will consist of Acree; McNamara; freshman Will Orwig, of Mifflintown; freshman Gavin Baer, of Bainbridge; and sophomore Trevor Keaton, of Worcester.

The key to success, Haile said, “will be in the consistency and grit they have. The spring season is a sprint to the finish with the ultimate prize of going to the NCAA tournament in Florida. If they can stay level-headed and manage their game, they will be able to compete at a high level and have a chance of winning the conference title.

“From what we saw in our Fall Preview at Rancocas Golf Club, the course has several challenging holes that can make or break a round. If we can win those holes over the field, we will be right where we need to be to be successful.”

In addition to assisting at Penn College in recent years, Lytle also volunteered with the Loyalsock Township High School boys and girls golf teams, the latter of which won four PIAA District 4 championships during his time there.

A three-sport athlete growing up – he also played basketball at the former Bishop Neumann High and Wyoming Seminary, and baseball – Lytle said he first picked up a golf club when he was a 3-year-old and, after high school, played golf at Elon College in North Carolina before turning pro and competing on the Ben Hogan (now Korn Ferry) and Coastal Carolina tours.

After returning to the Williamsport area, the 55-year-old regained his amateur status and continues to compete himself.

If there is one thing that Lytle believes he brings to the team, it is preparation.

“Penn College has nontraditional student-athletes. These guys are coming in for a great education and they happen to be able to play golf. I want to give them that opportunity to get that great education, and it’s just not ‘Come out and hit balls and let’s go play golf,’ I’m bringing that experience of ‘We’re going to prepare,’” he said. “I’m going to give them every tool I can from getting them ready for the golf course they’re playing, to working on any of their strengths or weaknesses to get better.

“The way I’ve always approached the game of golf is to have a game plan, practice on the right things and make sure you’re prepared to play. … We’re going to go compete and we’re going to be prepared to go do that.”

Looking ahead, Lytle said, “I’m excited for Monday. But I’m excited for the whole season. My top five guys are good, but the guys who aren’t going Monday aren’t going to sit back and just let the same five guys go (every week). The rest of the team is going to be out there working. I like guys that want to practice, that want to play, that want to get better.

“I want it to be a golf team that the college is proud of, that the Penn State organization is proud of, and we’re going to be competitors. … I think the future of Penn College golf looks pretty darn good.”

“Both the men and women are looking forward to the spring season,” coach Jessica Bower said. “The men went 5-1 in the fall and they are looking to keep that momentum going through the conference matches and stay on a winning streak. The women went 1-6 in the fall and they are showing great improvement and look forward to improving their record to include more in the win column.”

Although all of the singles and doubles starting positions have yet to be locked down, Bower, in her fourth season, said, “The men will be led by senior Tucker Phillippe-Johansson, of Mattituck, New York; freshman Alex Norris, of Williamsport; and freshman Paul Langbein, of Carnegie. Junior Jesse Kight, of Williamsport; senior Tommy Cavanagh, of New Hope; and junior Zack Burkhart, of Milton, will also start for the men.

“The women will be led by freshman Mary Kathryn Hillman, of Quakertown; senior Alexis Youse, of Pottstown; sophomore Georgia Macensky, of Wellsboro; and sophomore Amber Leitzel, of Mifflinburg. Sophomore Delaney Bouton, of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey; junior Sostika Rai, of Harrisburg; and senior Kelly Williams, of Marion, New York, will also play.”

A year ago, Phillippe-Johansson became the first Penn College men’s No. 1 singles player to complete a 5-0 season. He was named the conference Player of the Year, was named to the all-conference first team and was named to the conference’s All-Sportsmanship Team. Cavanaugh and Macensky earned all-conference second-team honors.

Assessing her teams’ strengths, Bower, who is assisted by former Wildcat player Erica Logan, said, “Our chemistry. Everyone gets along well. They even like to spend time together not on the court. This helps them in knowing each other and knowing what to expect on the court. They know who is going to do what and they complement each other well. They know where the gaps are, and they take the initiative to fill them in.”

Areas that need improvement, according to the coach, are “continuing to work on our consistency and patience. We are working on closing out key points in each game so that they add up and get us a win for the match.”

The keys to the season, Bower said, are “hanging tough. The men really want to come out strong. They are hungry to make it into the postseason and play for a (United East) conference championship. The women are trying to improve upon their record and grow as a team.”

In nonconference action on Wednesday, Penn College was swept at Wilson College, 10-5 and 7-6. In the opener, Brian Robison, of Quakertown, had a two-run single in the first inning and Shane Price, of Kersey, had a two-run homer in the fifth before Wilson scored five runs in the sixth for its win. In the second game, the Wildcats trailed 4-0 after three innings before Cameron Dick, of Dillsburg, smashed a three-run homer to highlight a five-run fourth. Penn College added a single run in the fifth before the Phoenix scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to win.

In their UE opener and the first game of a twin bill on Friday at Lancaster Bible College, the Wildcats started strong – with a six-run first inning – and ended strong – with an eight-run seventh – en route to a 15-5 win. Robison went 3 for 4 during the game with a double and two runs scored while four other Penn College players had two hits each. Starting pitcher Zac Weaver, of Pottstown, went four innings to earn his first win of the season. Lancaster Bible won the second game, 7-3. Jacob Carles, of Bernville, hit a solo home run in the sixth for the Wildcats, who stranded 10 base runners. Pitcher Ben Bretzman, of Bendersville, went six innings and took the loss despite striking out six and walking one.

The three-game series wrapped up with a slugfest on Saturday won by Lancaster Bible, 18-17, as Penn College dropped to 7-8 overall and 1-2 in the UE. Robison again had the hot bat for the Wildcats, putting them on top with a solo homer in the second inning and ending the day 3 for 5 with three runs scored and two RBIs. Price went 3 for 5 with two home runs, three RBIs and three runs scored while Tyler Rudolph, of Hemlock, New York, went 3 for 6 with a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored, and Kolten Smith, of Millville, had one home run. Nathan Gustkey, of Philipsburg, added three hits to Penn College’s 20-hit attack. Joel Verrico, of Montoursville, the fourth of five Wildcat pitchers, took the loss.

Also last week, Dick was named the United East Player of the Week after leading his team to a 4-2 record March 7-10 at The Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, by going 13 for 26 at the plate, including two doubles and two triples, while driving in seven runs and scoring seven.

Kyla Benner, of Bethlehem, and Jordan Specht, of Frederick, Maryland, were honored as the United East Pitcher and Player of the Week, respectively, for their performances March 7-11 at the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Benner went 3-1 with a 0.71 ERA and Specht hit .500 with four doubles, a home run and a triple, while driving in nine runs and scoring six.

Men’s lacrosse
A seven-goal, fourth-quarter outburst lifted Penn College to a 13-10 nonconference home win over Alvernia College on Wednesday. Leading the offense were Quinn Caviola, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, who had four goals and one assist; Brendan Kuczma, of New Fairfield, Connecticut, who had three goals and two assists; and Trevor Soli, of Redding, Connecticut, and Sam Hills, of Maynard, Massachusetts, who each had two goals and one assist. Dylan Klemas, of Narvon, won 11 of 15 faceoffs. Wildcats goalie James Cella, of Cape May, New Jersey, had four saves. Penn College led in shots, 49-23, and shots on goal, 32-14.

Hosting FDU-Florham in nonconference play on Saturday, the Wildcats came out strong with seven first-quarter goals and evened their record at 4-4 with a 15-12 win. James Thatcher, of Bala Cynwyd, scored four goals while Soli and Hills each scored three times. Caviola had five assists and Cella made 22 saves in goal. Florham led in shots, 58-34, and in shots on goal, 34-24.

Penn College opens United East play at 5 p.m. Friday, hosting SUNY Morrisville in a rematch of last year’s conference title game won by Morrisville.

Penn College teams in CS:GO and League of Legends both finished 2-4 while the Overwatch team finished 0-7. In Rocket League action against Camden County College, the Wildcats lost, 7-1 and the Valorant team squares off this week against the University of British Columbia in round 1 of the playoffs. In iRacing, Austin Delong finished ninth of 21 at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo E Dino Ferrari.

Freshman Gavin Barrett, of Roselle, New Jersey, (men) and senior Maci Ilgen, of Spring Mills, (women) were named to their respective United East All-Sportsmanship teams.

Overall: 7-8
UE: 1-2
Wednesday, March 16 – at Wilson College (2), L, 10-5; L, 7-6
Friday, March 18 – at Lancaster Bible College (UE), W, 15-5, L, 7-3
Saturday, March 19 – at Lancaster Bible College (UE), L, 18-17
Monday, March 21 – at Wilkes University, 3:30 p.m.
Friday, March 25 – host Gallaudet University (UE), 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 26 – host Gallaudet University (UE, 2), 1 p.m.
Tuesday, March 29 – host Pitt-Greensburg (2), 1 p.m.
Thursday, March 31 – host Penn State Altoona (2), 1 p.m.
Friday, April 1 – host Penn State Harrisburg (UE), 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 2 – host Penn State Harrisburg (UE, 2), 1 p.m.
Monday, April 4 – at Mt. Aloysius College, 3 p.m.

Overall: 4-3
UW: 0-0
Thursday, March 17 – at Susquehanna University (2), ppd.
Tuesday, March 22 – at Susquehanna University (2), TBA
Friday, March 25 – at Lancaster Bible College (UE, 2), 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 26 – at Gallaudet University (UE, 2), 1 p.m.
Thursday, March 31 – at Lycoming College (2), 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 2 – host Penn State Berks (UE, 2), 1 p.m.
Wednesday, April 6 – host Penn State Harrisburg (UE, 2), 3 p.m.

Men’s lacrosse
Overall: 4-4
UE: 0-0
Wednesday, March 16 – host Alvernia University, W, 13-10
Saturday, March 19 – host FDU-Florham, W, 15-12
Friday, March 25 – host SUNY Morrisville (UE), 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 2 – at Hilbert College (UE), 1 p.m.

Monday, March 21 – Lebanon Valley College Spring Invitational at Lebanon Country Club, noon
Monday, March 28 – Wilson College Invitational at Chambersburg Country Club, 11 a.m.
Saturday, April 2 – Penn State Division III Challenge Day 1 at Penn State Blue and White courses in State College, noon
Sunday, April 3 – Penn State Division III Challenge Day 2 at Penn State Blue and White courses in State College, 9 a.m.

Men’s/Women’s tennis
Sunday, March 27 – at Juniata College, 1 p.m.
Saturday, April 2 – at King’s College, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, April 5 – at Penn State Harrisburg, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday, April 23-24 – USA Eastern Regional Collegiate Championships at Harrisonburg, Va.

Tuesday, March 15 – CIL NASCAR – Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22 – CIL ROAD – Circuit De Spa-Francorchamps, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 29 – CIL NASCAR – Charlotte Motor Speedway, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, April 5 – CIL ROAD – Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, April 12 – CIL NASCAR – Phoenix Raceway, 8 p.m.
Rocket League
Record: 0-8
Monday, March 14 – vs. Camden County College, L, 7-1
Monday, March 21 – vs. Drexel University, 7 p.m.

Record: 0-2
Vs. University of British Columbia, TBA

Final record: 0-7
League of Legends
Final record: 2-4

Final record: 2-4

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

For additional information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 31

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