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Penn College Wrestlers Host National Qualifier

Pennsylvania College of Technology wrestlers look to qualify for nationals and its archers are set to get their season underway this week.

Wrestlers step into the first round of national competition Saturday when they host the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Mid-East Conference Championships at Bardo Gymnasium. Action on three mats begins at 9:30 a.m.

Coming out of the same tournament a year ago, seven Wildcats earned berths in the NCWA Championships. This year, the top five wrestlers in each weight class and 10 wild-card entries from the field of about 100 individuals from up to 13 teams will advance to nationals, which are scheduled for March 14-16 in Allen, Texas.

“The main thing is for us to get healthy, we’ve got a couple of guys who are banged up a little bit. At the same time we want to try to peak at the qualifiers,” said Penn College fourth-year coach Schuyler Frey.

Expected to compete for Penn College are Aaron Doll, of Glen Rock, at 125 pounds; Mason Replogle, of New Enterprise, at 141; Kyle Sunseri, of Athens, and Cesar Gonzalez, of Woodbridge, Va., both at 149; Troy Leid, of Terre Hill, and Joe Champluvier, of Laceyville, both at 157; Dan Frankenfield, of Dushore, at 174; and Pat Fitzgerald, of Port Royal, and Mike Failla, of Beach Lake, both at 197. Of the group, Sunseri is a junior, Gonzalez and Frankenfield are sophomores and the rest are freshmen.

“If each of them wrestle at their very best, I think that we can get just about everyone through (to nationals),” Frey said.

Commenting on what turned out to be his wrestlers’ final tune-up Feb. 9 at the Penn State University Athletic Conference-United States Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, Frey said, “We were using it as a prep for the MECs. Some of the guys had some tough bouts that didn’t come out the way they wanted and we’ve been working on some things that we saw there, hoping to make them successful. And the three who won PSUAC championships (Doll, Champluvier and Fitzgerald) probably wrestled some of the best matches they have so far this year and we hope to continue to build upon that.”

The key to peaking at the right time, according to the coach, is being as healthy as possible, working on technique and “trying to emphasize with the guys to be continuously moving, to be wrestling, and not resting but constantly be working to score because in the qualifying you’re going to need to win those close matches and you’ve always got to be looking to score.”

The archery team returns four All-Americans from last year’s squad that finished third in the nation and also welcomes the return of coach Chad Karstetter, who is back for season 12 after two years away from the program. The Wildcats open their campaign Friday at the Eastern Regional Indoor Championships in Lancaster.

At the core of this season’s squad are senior Kelvin Dewalt, of Easton; and juniors Kendel Baier, of Jersey Shore; Nicole Lapinski, of Bloomsburg; and Justus Leimbach, of Westminster, Md. All earned All-American status a year ago and Lapinski is a two-time All-American. Baier also is the reigning female bowhunter national individual champion and was a member of the winning mixed and women’s bowhunter teams at nationals.

Commenting on his key returnees, Karstetter said, “I expect that they are going to do just as well as they did last year, if not a little bit better. Every year, the more experience you get at some of these big shoots, the easier it is the next year when you come back. The nerves aren’t quite as high. Just knowing what to do, where to go, is definitely a bonus when you go to these national tournaments. I expect them all to be All-Americans this year and I expect them to lead the teams that they’re going to be with this year, too.”

“I hope that we can accomplish some of the goals they set for last year: placing in the top three (nationally) and having a few All-Americans. I hope to step in and be able to continue the tradition that we have had here at the college,” Karstetter said of his return.

During Karstetter’s first 11 seasons as coach, from 2001-11, Penn College archers finished second twice, third once and fourth twice on the national stage. They also placed second in 2012 under coach Brian Parker. In his last season with the team, Karstetter was awarded national Coach of the Year honors.

“Just coming in the second week of January, I was really surprised how organized the team was. They already knew where they needed to go, some of them had taken charge and put together the teams and had tryouts. They were very organized and pretty much set up when I walked in the door,” Karstetter said, adding that Tom Lapinski, Nicole’s father and the team’s assistant coach, has been instrumental during the transition.

Other returning archers on whom Karstetter is counting include junior Matt Cummings, of Mountville; senior Ashley Baker, of Coudersport; sophomore Gregg Foust, of Murrysville; junior Stephen Keys, of Reynoldsville; and sophomore Max Trainor, of Hawley.

As of now, teams will consist of:

Female compound – Baker, Lapinski and freshman Abigail Hricko, of Nicholson.

Male compound – Leimbach, Cummings, sophomore Markus Weber, of La Plata, Md., and freshman Cody Wolfe, of Tioga.

Female recurve – Freshmen Julie Carr, of Souderton; Pam Hartman, of Harrisburg; and Alana Androvette, of Williamsport.

Male recurve – Trainor, Foust and Keys.

Female bowhunter – Baier, sophomore Holly Neely, of Lebanon; and freshmen Kathreen Larsen, of Clinton Corners, N.Y., and Courtney Deshong, of McConnellsburg.

Male bowhunter – Dewalt, and freshmen Chris Lafey, of Weatherly; Matt Lech, of Johnstown; and Robert Heinrich, of Unityville.

“We’re very confident in all of the divisions. We have a few new (archers) who we have filtered into some of these teams, but they are all really strong,” Karstetter said. “The female recurve team has girls that we just picked up who have very little experience, but they have been down on the range every day since they said they would take on this challenge and they’ve been doing very well. I expect that by the time May rolls around, we will have a pretty good team.”

After the Lancaster outing, archers will move outdoors for the rest of their season, which includes the Northeast Collegiate Tournament at Storrs, Conn., March 29-30; the Adam Wheatcroft Memorial Tournament at James Madison University, April 5-6; the Eastern Regional Intercollegiate Championships at Storrs, Conn., April 18-20; and the U.S. Intercollegiate Championships at Long Beach, Calif., May 15-18.

Overall record: 1-8
PSUAC record: 0-2
Saturday, March 1 – host MEC Championships at Bardo Gym, 9:30 a.m.

Friday-Sunday, Feb. 28-March 2 – Eastern Indoor Regional Championships at Lancaster

No. 28

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