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Penn College wrestlers set to open, soccer teams playoff-bound

The start of the wrestling season at Pennsylvania College of Technology is just days away and North Eastern Athletic Conference playoffs loom Tuesday for the men’s and women’s soccer teams.

In action over the past week, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed Saturday in the NEAC Championships at Lancaster Bible College, with the men placing third among 11 teams in an 8K race and four of its runners earning all-conference honors and the women ending fourth among 11 teams in a 6K race with three individuals among the top 21 and earning all-conference nods, while the fall seasons wrapped up for the men’s golf and women’s volleyball squads.

Last season, in their first year under coach Jamie Miller, the Wildcats made strides in the program that was restarted in 2010 after a 26-year lapse when they compiled a 7-20 dual match record – the seven wins was the most in a season since 2012-13 – and freshman Jared Mooney, of Palmerton, became the first wrestler in school history to place in NCAA Regionals, where he was fourth in the 197-pound weight class.

This season, Miller, who is assisted by Rich Shnyder, is hopeful of continued progress and it all begins at 7 p.m. Thursday when Penn College hosts Delaware Valley at Bardo Gymnasium.

Key returning grapplers, according to Miller, include Mooney, who had 19 wins a year ago, in the 197-pound weight class; junior co-captain Dylan Otis, of Wyalusing, a heavyweight returning Academic All-American who finished in the top eight in regionals and led the team with 32 wins; sophomore co-captain Dan Bergeron, of Jackson, New Jersey, at 165; sophomore Christian Fox, of Boyertown, who also placed in the top eight at regionals, at 133; and sophomore Chris Bashaw, of Jersey Shore, at 149.

Miller said at the start of the season that the team will forfeit at 125 with either Fox or freshman Colin Jens, of Centreville, Maryland, at 133; either freshman Cam Dickey, of Williamsport, or freshman Gavin Link, of Gallitzin, at 141; freshman Jesse Walker, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, or Bashaw at 149; sophomore Jon Martinez, of Pittston, at 157; either Bergeron or freshman Makeela Fabrizio, of Montrose, at 157; either freshman Colin Browne, of Wilkes-Barre; sophomore Dylan Gettys, of Etters, or freshman Alec Dickey, of Williamsport, at 174 or 184; either Mooney or sophomore Brendan McGinley, of Glenmoore, at 197; and either Otis or freshman Jon Pineda, of Easton, at heavyweight.

“Our numbers are up. We had a lot of forfeits up and down the lineup last year that made it difficult for us to compete as a team. This year, many of those holes are filled, and we’re looking forward to being more competitive from a team standpoint. I anticipate we will still struggle due to the difficulty of our schedule, but we are working very hard and these guys won’t quit. Even in matches, they don’t win; they will hustle and compete, and we’ll look to improve throughout the year like we did last year and hopefully peak when it matters in February,” Miller said.

“We are, again, a very young team. We have 10 freshmen, six sophomores, one junior and no seniors. Wrestling at the college level is going to be a big adjustment for our freshmen – we encountered that last year. For them, it’s about gaining experience, finding their style and learning how to prepare and execute on a new level. From our sophomores and juniors, we expect them to build off their experience last year to help the freshmen, but also to know what to expect, how to prepare, and it’s about continuing to develop the style and build of the strengths they recognized last year,” Miller said.

The coach continued: “Much like last year’s group, these guys are tough, gritty and anxious to get better. They are hardworking guys who come to practice every day with a positive attitude and ready to learn. What we may lack on the technical side, we will make up in hustle and grit.

“Being a freshman-dominated team, it’s going to take us some time to adjust to this level of competition every week. I expect our returning guys to hit the ground running, but our freshmen need to find what works for them at this level (which isn’t always the same as what worked for them in high school). Preparation is different, sleep is different, practice is different, competition level is different. There is a significant learning curve that takes place with freshmen and they need to be prepared for that.”

The key to success, Miller said, will be “improving every day, staying the course and being committed to doing the little things right – balancing sleep, homework, social life and wrestling. We need to focus on effort, not results. We’ll continue to get better as the year goes on, and the plan is to beat guys that may have gotten us early in the year.”

As far as expectations, Miller noted, “It’s hard to tell what to expect. Our schedule this year is significantly more challenging than last year’s. That will likely keep our wins as a team down, but I anticipate the scores of individual matches to be very competitive on a regular basis. We got a lot of falls last year, we also got pinned a lot – I don’t expect as much of that this year.

“Ultimately, our goals is to put a few guys on the podium at the regional tournament and hopefully sneak one or two through to the national tournament. I think we have a few guys who are capable of that, it’s just a matter of putting everything together at the right time and being committed for the duration of the year.”

As part of the team’s opener, Miller said that six local Special Olympic weightlifters who will compete Saturday, Nov. 3, at Villanova University will be recognized.

“We would love to get as much support at that match as possible to wish them luck and recognize all the hard work that they and their coaches have put in this year,” the coach added.

Both the women’s and men’s teams are scheduled to open the playoffs on Tuesday, the women (11-7 overall and 8-3 in the conference) will be at home as the No. 3 seed facing No. 6 seed Morrisville State College at 3 p.m. and the No. 6 seeded men (7-7-2 overall, 6-4-1 in the conference) on the road at No. 3 seed Morrisville State College at 2 p.m. In each division, the top two teams earned first-round byes. Semifinals are scheduled Saturday and the championships Sunday. Conference champions earn automatic berths in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Stepping out of the conference in a home match with Juniata College on Wednesday, Penn College dropped a 3-1 decision with its lone goal coming in the 86th minute. Juniata led in shots, 21-8 (8-4 on goal), and in corner kicks, 5-1.

Hosting conference co-leader Penn State Berks on Friday, the Wildcats lost their NEAC regular-season finale, 2-0. Berks dominated in shots, 31-1 (17-0 on goal), and led in corner kicks, 6-1. Despite the loss, goalkeeper Taylor Gonzales, of Lititz, had 15 saves during the match.Seniors Lauren Herr, of Manheim; Carley DeVore, of Muncy; and Emily Bell, of Jersey Shore, were honored prior to the match.

“We’ve had a really good season this year. The girls started out really strong offensively and defensively. As the year went (on), we continued to get better but the schedule got stronger and so it’s been harder for us to score, but we’re playing much better soccer,” first-year interim coach Christa Matlack said.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller-coaster with injuries, but hopefully (this) week we see kids back who have been out for a little while. It’s been really good, and really positive, especially with the coaching transition, which can be a little bit difficult at times,” Matlack said.

Against other playoff-bound teams, Penn College lost to No. 1 seed Keuka College, 3-0; lost to No. 2 seed Penn State Berks, 2-0; lost to No. 4 seed Cazenovia College, 1-0; beat No. 5 seed Lancaster Bible College, 2-0; and beat Morrisville State College, 1-0, during the regular season.

“Our key to winning is making sure that we maintain possession of the ball. … And try not to wear ourselves out by dribbling too much. Also, the simple things, like winning 50-50 balls and challenging for those and making sure we are continuously pressing up the field and not sitting back in and giving the other team space to play. When we do those things well we are always very dominant in a match. If we have a day where we choose not to do those easy things we end up making it harder for ourselves to compete and to win the game, ultimately,” Matlack said.

“We’re excited for Tuesday. … The atmosphere should be great. I think the girls are pretty excited for that.

“We want to go into that match expecting that … they’re going to come out and they’re going to want to have some revenge on us for beating them during the regular season. … We need to make sure that we’re ready to go … And we just have to work hard,” Matlack added.

Final NEAC regular-season standings: Keuka College 10-0-1, Penn State Berks 10-0-1, Penn College 8-3, Cazenovia College 7-3-1, Lancaster Bible College 6-3-2, Morrisville State College 6-4-1, Gallaudet University 4-6-1, Penn State Abington 3-7-1, SUNY Cobleskill 3-8, SUNY Poly 3-9, Wells College 2-9, College of St. Elizabeth 0-11.

Statistically speaking: Kaelan Cronan, of Leesport, is fourth in the NEAC with 15 goals, fourth with 35 points and fifth with 66 shots while Gonzales is third with a .843 save percentage and fourth with 1.33 goals against average.

Hosting Wilkes University on Wednesday in non-conference play, Penn College posted a 1-0 win with goalkeeper Hunter Gosnell, of Westminster, Maryland, picking up six saves in earning the shutout. Vance Gradwell, of Bernville, scored the lone goal in the first half. Wilkes led in shots, 14-12 (Penn College led in shots on goal, 7-6), and in corner kicks, 8-3.

On Friday, the Wildcats closed out their regular NEAC season with a 4-4 double-overtime home tie against Penn State Berks. Penn College scored all of its goals in the first half and Berks all of its goals in the second half. The Wildcats led in shots, 20-15 (each team had 10 shots on goal), and led in corner kicks, 8-4. Honored during Senior Day were Gosnell; Randy Vance, of Greenwood Lake, New York; and Austin Dowrick, of Olney, Maryland.

“So far, it’s been a really good season. We accomplished our first goal of making the NEAC playoffs, that was our biggest goal,” coach Tyler Mensch said. “Now the second season starts and we hope to win our quarterfinal match and put ourselves into a third season, which would be the semis.”

Against other playoff-bound teams this season, the Wildcats lost to No. 1 seed Penn State Abington, 3-2 in overtime; lost to No. 2 seed Lancaster Bible, 2-1; lost to No. 4 seed Keuka College, 2-0; defeated No. 3 seed Morrisville State College, 2-0; and lost to No. 5 seed SUNY Cobleskill, 5-0.

“Morrisville, we played them on our field, which definitely helps us out, but we (will) be playing on their turf and I think they are more of a turf team so that could be a little bit of an issue,” Mensch said.

“We played so many young guys. Right now, we’re starting seven freshmen. … At the beginning of the year, obviously, we took a few licks here and there with the guys not used to playing at a college level, so now it’s really been good to see them develop and gel,” the coach said.

“Offensively, we’re competitive on the flanks, getting balls into the mix, scoring close to two goals a game … which is really good. … And Hunter Gosnell has really stepped up. He’s been lights out and should deserve an all-conference nod,” Mensch said.

“If we had to do anything, it’s just shore up the backs a little bit for playoffs. We get a little loose at times and try to take too many chances going forward.

“Hopefully we don’t have any nerves. With being such a young team, it’s a place where guys aren’t experienced. Hopefully, as freshmen, they just have that care-free attitude and aren’t nervous and go out and play the way we have been. That’s all we can ask for,” Mensch added.

Final NEAC regular-season standings: Penn State Abington 10-0-1, Lancaster Bible College 9-2, Keuka College 8-3, Morrisville State College 8-3, Penn College 6-4-1, SUNY Cobleskill 6-4-1, SUNY Poly 5-6, Gallaudet University 4-7, Penn State Berks 3-7-1, Wells College 3-8, Cazenovia College 2-9, College of St. Elizabeth 0-11.

Statistically speaking: Gosnell is 10th in the NEAC with 48 saves, 11th in save percentage at .706 and tied for 8th with 20 goals against. Chris McFarland, of Coatesville, is tied for 3rd with five assists.

The Penn College men finished with 72 points, coming in behind Lancaster Bible College, 44, and SUNY Poly, 50. Other teams in the field included SUNY Cobleskill, 116; Penn State Berks, 121; Keuka College, 167; Penn State Abington, 190; Morrisville State College, 210; Wells College, 261; Gallaudet University, 297; and College of St. Elizabeth, 344.

Individually for Penn College, junior Josh Velez, of Lewistown, finished fifth in 26:48.2; Thomas Runner, of Elkridge, Maryland, was seventh in 27:20.2; Matt Leiby, of Danville, was 15th in 28:04.8; Jonah Isaacson, of Muncy, was 20th in 28:31.4 (Velez and Runner each earned First-Team all-conference honors for the third year in a row while Leiby and Isaacson were named to the Third Team); Ben Ericksen, of Norwich, New York, was 25th in 28:55.8; Chris Hogan, of Halifax, was 27th in 29:03.5; and Alex Giffin, of Chambersburg, was 31st in 29:33. Abebe Abenezer, of Lancaster Bible College, took top honors in the 110-runner field with a time of 25:55.5.

The Penn College women ended with 117 points, behind SUNY Poly, 80; Cazenovia College, 80; and Keuka College, 100; and ahead of SUNY Cobleskill, 137; Wells College, 142; Morrisville State College, 150; Lancaster Bible College, 162; Penn State Berks, 197; Gallaudet University, 214; and College of St. Elizabeth, 318. The Wildcats’ finish was their best in five NEAC title meets.

Sophomore Sidney Trunzo, of Williamsport, led the Penn College women with a third-place finish in 24:28.7; while Rosey Thomas, of Port Allegany, was seventh in 25:14.6; Katie Plankenhorn, of Montoursville, was 17th in 27:30.3 (Trunzo and Thomas were First-Team all-conference honorees — Trunzo for the second year in a row— and Plankenhorn Third Team); Brittany Weiskopff, of Blossburg, was 38th in 29:26.6; and Nikki Crow, of Elizabethtown, was 58th in 32:17. SUNY Poly’s Lauren Phetteplace won the 84-runner women’s division in 24:10.6.

“It was a pretty great day. Going into the race I had team meetings with both the men and women and I told the men on paper we were third and I told the women on paper we were fourth and that’s where we ended up. The (course) conditions weren’t that great, but we ran nonetheless,” fourth-year coach Nick Patton said. “We ran the best when we needed to. You always want to run well at the end of the season and that’s what we were able to do.

“It was a team effort. Whenever you have two teams in the top five and seven all-conference selections, it’s just a great day overall. The kids really deserved it. They’ve worked hard all year.

“I think we came together as a team on both sides. I think the women really set the tone, they ran well, and then the men saw that and they knew that they were next to run well. Both teams helped each other and were able to do what I thought they were capable of doing. … I’m ecstatic about it. It was a good day for Penn College.”

Next up for the Wildcats on Nov. 10 are the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at DeSales University in Center Valley.

Wrapping up its fall season on Monday in the Lebanon Valley College Dutchmen Fall Invitational at Lebanon Country Club, Penn College shot a 332 to finish fifth among 12 teams. Penn State Berks won with a 310. Ned Baumbach, of Elizabethtown, topped the Wildcats with an 81 and finished alone in 12th while Tyler Marks, of Beachwood, New Jersey, shot 83 and tied for 13th; Brian Whelan, of Cresco, shot 84 and tied for 19th; Sean McNamara, of Lancaster, shot 85 and tied for 27th; and Austin Moscariello, of New Columbia, shot 86 and tied for 31st in a 60-player field. David Herbst, of Lebanon Valley, medaled with a 2-under-par 70.

“We had some team success (five top five finishes) and individual success (Whelan medaled in one tournament during the fall season),” coach Matt Haile said, adding of his top conference foes Penn State Berks and Rutgers-Camden, “I was hoping we were going to be a little closer to them score-wise. Looking at their season, Penn State Berks is going to be the team to beat (in the spring season), but it’s going to be about who bounces back quicker from the fall to spring.

“(Over the winter) we’re going to be utilizing that indoor net that we have access to at our campus, trying to keep the guys fresh. … We’ve got to utilize the resources that we have and bounce back quick. … There are things we have to work on to get to that next level and be more competitive and give ourselves a better chance at that conference championship.”

Women’s volleyball
In their final NEAC match of the season on Wednesday, the Wildcats lost at Penn State Abington, 1-3 (20-25, 25-18, 22-25, 17-25), to complete a 0-11 campaign. Hannah Burnett, of Middlebury Center, led Penn College with 24 assists and Michayla Roberts, of Newville, finished with 13 digs.

Closing out its season with a weekend non-conference series at Nazareth College, Penn College went 0-4 to close out a 1-24 season. On Friday, the Wildcats dropped their opener against Nazareth on Friday, 0-3 (11-25, 12-25, 19-25), and second match vs. SUNY Buffalo, 0-3 (8-25, 14-25, 10-25). Against Nazareth, Burnett had eight assists and Roberts nine digs. Against SUNY Buffalo, Burnett had 13 assists and Roberts 11 digs. On Saturday vs. Rochester College, Penn College lost, 0-3 (13-25, 10-25, 8-25), and against SUNY Fredonia it fell, 0-3 (12-25, 15-25, 17-25).Burnett had eight assists against Rochester while Kylee Butz, of Lawrenceville, had six digs. Against Fredonia, Burnett had 10 assists and Roberts nine digs.

Despite the team’s record, coach Bambi Hawkins, in her 15th season, said she has seen team and personal growth within the program.

“(Assistant) coach (Theresa) Stanko and I saw them grow in their skills and in their maturity as well,” Hawkins said.

Much of Penn College’s success under Hawkins (her career record is 188-153) came prior to the college joining the NEAC and going full-fledged as a member of NCAA Division III, and she noted, “It’s definitely another level of volleyball.”

Looking ahead, Hawkins said, “We will be recruiting heavily and encouraging our girls to utilize the tools that are available to them to make sure they are in shape for the next season as well.”

Final NEAC regular-season standings: Morrisville State College 11-0, Lancaster Bible College 9-2, Wells College 9-2, Gallaudet University 8-3, Keuka College 7-4, SUNY Poly 7-4, Penn State Berks 5-6, SUNY Cobleskill 4-7, Cazenovia College 2-9, Penn State Abington 2-9, College of St. Elizabeth 2-9, Penn College 0-11.

Statistically speaking: Roberts was fifth in the NEAC with 4.13 digs per set.

Men’s soccer
Overall: 7-7-2
NEAC: 6-4-1
Wednesday, Oct. 24 – host Wilkes University, W, 1-0
Friday, Oct. 26 – host Penn State Berks (NEAC), T, 4-4 (2 OT)
Tuesday, Oct. 30 — NEAC playoff at Morrisville State College, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 3 — NEAC playoff, TBA
Sunday, Nov. 4 — NEAC playoff, TBA

Women’s soccer
Overall: 11-7
NEAC: 8-3
Wednesday, Oct. 24 – host Juniata College, L, 3-1
Friday, Oct. 26 – host Penn State Berks (NEAC), L, 2-0
Tuesday, Oct. 30 — NEAC playoff host Morrisville State College, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 3 — NEAC playoff (Penn College-Morrisville State College winner vs. Penn State Berks), 2 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 4 — NEAC Championship, 1 p.m.

Women’s volleyball
Final overall: 1-24
Final NEAC: 0-11
Wednesday, Oct. 24 – at Penn State Abington (NEAC), L, 1-3 (20-25, 25-18, 22-25, 17-25)
Friday, Oct. 26 – at Nazareth College, L, 0-3 (11-25, 12-25, 19-25)
Friday, Oct. 26 – vs. SUNY Buffalo at Nazareth College, L, 0-3 (8-25, 14-25, 10-25)
Saturday, Oct. 27 – vs. Rochester College at Nazareth College, L, 0-3 (13-25, 10-25, 8-25)
Saturday, Oct. 27 – vs. SUNY Fredonia at Nazareth College, L, 0-3 (12-25, 15-25, 17-25)

Men’s cross-country
Saturday, Oct. 27 – NEAC Championship at Lancaster, finished third in an 11-team field
Saturday, Nov. 10 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at DeSales University, Center Valley, TBA

Women’s cross-country
Saturday, Oct. 27 – NEAC Championship at Lancaster, finished fourth in an 11-team field
Saturday, Nov. 10 – NCAA Division III Mideast Regional Championships at DeSales University, Center Valley, TBA

Monday, Oct. 22 – at Lebanon Valley College Dutchmen Fall Invitational at Lebanon Country Club, finished fifth among 12 teams

Thursday, Nov. 1 – host Delaware Valley, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 3 – at King’s College Monarch Invitational, 9 a.m.
Saturday, Nov. 10 – at Gettysburg College Invitational, 10 a.m.

Men’s basketball
Saturday, Nov. 10 – at Alvernia University, 3 p.m.

Women’s basketball
Saturday, Nov. 17 – vs. Susquehanna University at Susquehanna Trailways Tipoff Tournament, 8 p.m. (Nazareth College vs. Westminster College, 6 p.m.)
Sunday, Nov. 18 – vs. either Nazareth College or Westminster College in Susquehanna Trailways Tipoff Tournament at Susquehanna University, TBA 1 or 3 p.m.

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 12

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