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Penn College golfers set for nationals, men’s lacrosse second in NEAC

Unchartered territory. That, in a sense, is what the Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s golf team will be stepping onto Tuesday when it becomes the college’s first to compete in the NCAA Division III Championships.

A second practice round is scheduled Monday with competition over the following four days on Speidel Golf Club’s Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses at the Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia.

According to coach Matt Haile, Sunday’s rain “hasn’t altered the schedule but certainly has altered the ability to get a good feel for the course. Everyone is in the same boat, though.”

While the Wildcat golfers await their official start, the men’s lacrosse team closed out its first season Saturday with a second-place finish in the North Eastern Athletic Conference while NEAC semifinal games in baseball and softball scheduled for Sunday were postponed until Tuesday because of rain.

Golf
Both par-71 courses – designed by Jones and Palmer, respectively – the “Jones” is 7,001 yards long and hosted the West Virginia LPGA Classic for 11 years while the newer “Palmer” is 6,725 yards long.

“It certainly has sunk in and has been very exciting and exhausting at the same time. There are a bunch of logistics to get through, from travel, uniforms to COVID testing. And, I can’t leave out finals week for the student-athletes. It has been incredibly busy trying to prepare for it all,” Haile said of the past two weeks since his team captured the NEAC crown and with it a berth in the nationals.

While the Wildcats are blazing a new trail for the college, Haile said, “We are taking things in stride and keeping expectations within our means. When you get to the national level, there are a bunch of really, really good teams that compete at such a high level. Our team goal is to go out and really just enjoy the experience and try and make the cut.”

Golfers are assured of two practice rounds and tournament play on Tuesday and Wednesday, but in order to continue action on Thursday and Friday they need to make that cut, which Haile said (based on recent past scores) was in the low 300s each day.

In all, 191 golfers and 37 teams are participating. Penn College players include sophomore Kohltin Bartlow, of Montgomery; senior Sean McNamara, of Lancaster; sophomore Alex Acree, of Brookville; freshman Nathan Hoyer, of Windsor; and freshman Karson Felty, of Pine Grove. Bartlow was co-medalist in the NEAC Championship and co-Golfer of the Year, and Haile was the NEAC Coach of the Year.

Assessing the courses, Haile said, “The Jones and Palmer courses that we will play will present challenges of elevation changes, doglegs, large greens and tall grasses. Choosing the right club and taking advantage of the easier holes will be the keys to our success.

“As always, it’s going to be important to minimize the big numbers on the scorecard and play the par 3s well. We will use the practice rounds to really get a feel for the sightlines off the tees and look for the largest part of the fairways where we want our shots to land. We will be playing in fivesomes with our own team for the practice round, so it will be nice to be able to coach the players and talk about the shots as we are presented with them.”

Golfers will play at least four rounds over four days, which will present a challenge in itself.

“Certainly, playing golf this many days in a row will take a toll on their minds and body. If we make the cut, you are looking at six days of golf in a row (with two days of practice rounds), which I’m pretty certain none of the players have done before,” Haile said. “It will be important to get a good night’s rest, feed their bodies and stay hydrated to keep … in top shape. This is a lot of golf on a big stage and I’m sure they will be running on adrenaline. It’s going to be an experience they will never forget and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Asked about the pressure of vying for a national championship, Haile said, “There will definitely be more nerves on the first shot of the day as they step up on the tee and hear their name and school announced before they tee off.

“There will be more fans, teams, championship signage, and just the look and feel will be very professional. The experience will be like no other tournament they’ve played in, but I think once they get the first few holes in and settle into their games, it’s just a normal round of golf at that point.”

Although the stakes are bigger, Haile said, “(The) outlook is always the same: go out and have fun, play their game and always grind it out no matter how you are playing.

“At this level of the game, every shot counts and it’s important to stay mentally tough. We saw this at our NEAC championships when it came down to two shots to decide who advanced to the national tournament.”

Jordan Williams was named NEAC Coach of the Year for lacrosse in his inaugural season with the Wildcats.
Jordan Williams was named NEAC Coach of the Year for lacrosse in his inaugural season with the Wildcats.

Men’s lacrosse
Saturday’s 17-1 championship-game loss by the second-seeded Wildcats to perennial conference champ Morrisville State College didn’t diminish the team’s accomplishments, which included having the NEAC Newcomer of the Year and Coach of the Year along with four first-team all-conference selections and five second-team honorees.

Scheduled to host third-seeded Hilbert College on Wednesday in a conference semifinal, Penn College advanced when Hilbert was ruled out on Tuesday due to COVID-19 protocols. Top-seeded Morrisville State College, meanwhile, moved on with a 19-0 rout of fourth-seeded Medaille College.

That set up Saturday’s championship at Morrisville, which now has won six titles in a row, completed a 5-0 NEAC season and improved to 7-1 overall. The Wildcats ended 4-2 with both losses to Morrisville.

In the title tilt, Morrisville scored in every quarter and dominated in shots (54-17), shots on goal (39-7), ground balls (36-20) and faceoffs (16-4).

Michael Stank, of York Haven, scored the Wildcats’ lone goal in the second quarter.

“This was obviously not the result we were looking for, but we ran into a team who was extremely well-coached, disciplined and they stuck to their game plan,” coach Jordan Williams said. “They pressured all over the field and challenged us. Unfortunately, we didn’t respond to that pressure and the final score showed that. We fought the entire game and played tough, which is something we as a group are extremely proud of. We now know what the standard is and we look forward to competing next season.”

Earlier in the week, Daniel Jackson, of Phoenixville, was named the NEAC Newcomer of the Year and Williams was honored with the Coach of the Year award in his inaugural season as a head coach.

Joining Jackson on the NEAC first team were Quinn Caviola, of Ridgefield, Connecticut; Benjamin Guaragno, of Spring Grove; and Angelo Varcadipane, of Boonton, New Jersey.

On the second team were Stephen Lepore, of Palmyra; Danny Harkins, of North Wales; Dylan Klemas, of Narvon; Isaac Hernandez, of Monroe Township, New Jersey; and Andrew Gobbi, of Haymarket, Virginia.

During the regular season, Jackson, a midfielder, finished second in conference play in points (23) and assists (nine), and third in goals (14). He also recorded 16 ground balls, caused five turnovers and was named NEAC Player of the Week once this season.

Caviola was first in conference play in points (26) and goals (17) and second in assists (nine). The attackman also finished with 18 ground balls and nine caused turnovers and was named NEAC Player of the Week three times.

Guaragno and Varcadipane were key members of a defense that allowed only 7.86 goals per game. Guaragno finished with 15 ground balls and two caused turnovers, while Varcadipane scooped 16 ground balls and caused 14 turnovers.

Lepore, an attack, was third on the team in points (14) after scoring eight goals, dishing out six assists and picking up five ground balls. Harkins, a midfielder, was fourth on the team in points (13), on 11 goals and two assists, and finished second with 23 ground balls.

Klemas topped the conference with 53 of 93 wins at faceoff in conference play and finished second in the conference in ground balls with 29. Hernandez finished the season with 10 ground balls and eight caused turnovers as a long stick midfielder.

Gobbi, who earned NEAC Goalie of the Week honors twice, was third in the conference in saves (66), save percentage (63.5), and goals-against average (7.86).

Earlier last week, Caviola and Gobbi earned weekly NEAC men’s lacrosse honors as Caviola was named Offensive Player of the Week and Gobbi was named Defensive Player of the Week for their play May 1 in a 17-3 win over Hilbert College.

“The future is bright. We have some awesome young men returning from the current team and then we add the incoming class,” Williams said. “There is so much interest in what we offer academically, with lacrosse being the cherry on top of the sundae, which has resulted in a big class for Fall 2021, which is a mix of graduating seniors and some transfers. Our roster will be in the upper 40s, which will allow us to continue to compete in conference and out of conference moving forward. The incoming guys are excited and already buying into what we are building here. They can’t wait to help create our legacy.”

Commenting on his first season as a head coach, Williams said, “I have learned a few things: Overemphasize the assist. Less is more. Rest days are good. Sometimes not saying something is the best way forward.

“This season exceeded all of our expectations on and off the field. We transitioned from a club program and found success at (the) Division III level right away, which no one – including myself – saw coming. I am extremely grateful for the young men who took the leap of faith to be a part of year one. We look forward to building off the solid foundation we laid this year with the addition of our incoming class, and are excited about the opportunity to compete for a NEAC title again next season.”

Softball
The Wildcats closed out their regular season Thursday with a 12-0 and 19-1 doubleheader sweep at Wells College to improve to 15-3.

In Thursday’s first game, pitcher Kyla Benner, of Bethlehem, tossed a one-hit, six-strikeout gem that improved her record to 8-1. Olivia Hemstock, of Northford, Connecticut, paced the team’s 15-hit attack by going 3 for 3 at the plate with four RBIs and two runs scored.

In Thursday’s second game, Kassidy Svenson, of Auburn, tossed a three-hitter, striking out three, while improving to 6-2 on the mound. Hemstock again went 3 for 3 with four RBIs and one run scored while Lesley Fritz, of Muncy, went 3 for 4 with two doubles, five RBIs and two runs scored.

NEAC final regular-season standings: Penn State Berks, 16-2; Penn College, 15-3; Penn State Abington, 9-7; Penn State Harrisburg, 11-9; Lancaster Bible College, 6-12; Morrisville State College, 2-12; Wells College, 1-15.

Baseball
Brittan Kittle, of Millville, was named to the D3baseball.com Team of the Week last week after going 5 for 8 at the plate with three home runs, a double, six RBIs and four runs scored on April 28 against Penn State Berks. He also was perfect behind the plate with no errors and throwing out two runners who attempted to steal. The Team of the Week is D3baseball.com’s weekly honor roll, in its ninth season of recognizing the top performers at each of nine positions.

23 inducted into athlete honor society
The Athletics Department recently inducted its third class of Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society. The honorees included 23 student-athletes, representing 12 teams with an average GPA of 3.75.

This year’s class joins 41 previously inducted student-athletes. A student-athlete must be in their junior or senior year with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 to be eligible.

Four wrestlers honored
Four Penn College wrestlers – senior Dylan Gettys, of Etters; junior Jesse Walker, of Ridgefield, Connecticut; freshman Noah Hunt, of Muncy; and freshman Garrett Storch, of Canton – earned National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III All-American honors it was announced during the week.

During a normal season a student-athlete must meet both academic and athletic criteria established by the association, but this year, since most teams didn’t compete due to the COVID-19 pandemic, coaches were asked to vet their teams wisely and anticipate wrestlers they believe would have met the athletic achievements.

Gettys, HVAC technology, earned his program-record third All-American award. He finished sixth at regionals in 2019 and eighth in 2020, with a 20-11 record at 165. His career record at Penn College is 48-21.

Walker, graphic design, picked up his first All-American honor. He finished 17-14 at 149 in 2020.

Hunt, accounting, was a four-time state qualifier in high school and Storch, forest technology, was a 2020 state qualifier in high school.

SCHEDULES/RECORDS/RESULTS
Men’s Lacrosse
NEAC finale: 4-2 (4-1 regular season)
Wednesday, May 5 – NEAC Semifinals, No. 3 seed Hilbert College at No. 2 seed Penn College, canceled due to COVID-19 protocols, no contest, Penn College advances to championship; No. 1 seed Morrisville State College def. No. 4 seed Medaille College, 19-0
Saturday, May 8 – NEAC Championship at Morrisville State College, L, 17-1

Baseball
NEAC: 9-11 (9-11 regular season)
Sunday, May 9 – NEAC Semifinal 9-inning doubleheader (best-of-three), No. 3 Penn College at No. 2 Penn State Abington, ppd. to Tuesday
Tuesday, May 11 – NEAC Semifinal 9-inning doubleheader (best-of-three), No. 3 Penn College at No. 2 Penn State Abington, 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, May 12 – NEAC Semifinal, if needed, TBA
Saturday, May 15 – NEAC Championship doubleheader (best-of-three), TBA
Sunday, May 16 – NEAC Championship, if needed, TBA (winner qualifies for NCAA Division III tournament)

Softball
NEAC: 15-3 (15-3 regular season)
Thursday, May 6 – at Wells College (2), W, 12-0 in 5 innings; W, 19-1 in 5 innings
Sunday, May 9 – NEAC Semifinal doubleheader (best-of-three), No. 3 Penn State Abington at No. 2 Penn College, ppd. to Tuesday
Tuesday, May 11 – NEAC Semifinal doubleheader (best-of-three), No. 3 Penn State Abington at No. 2 Penn College, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, May 12 – NEAC Semifinal, if needed, TBA
Saturday, May 15 – NEAC Championship doubleheader (best-of-three), TBA
Sunday, May 16 – NEAC Championship, if needed, TBA (winner qualifies for NCAA Division III tournament)

Golf
Tuesday-Friday, May 11-14 – NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship at Speidel Golf Club’s Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses on the Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia

Men’s Tennis
NEAC finale: 1-4

Women’s Tennis
NEAC finale: 2-3 (2-2 regular season)

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website. (NOTE: All playoff schedules are taken from that site).

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