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Season of Change Arrives for Penn College Athletes

As the weather shows signs of change, so do the seasons at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams wrapped things up last week, wrestlers conclude their season this Saturday in a national tournament and, on the same day, the college’s baseball and archery teams are scheduled to step into action for the first time.

Penn College wrestlers take to the mats in the ninth annual National Collegiate Open Championship at Dover, Delaware, for grapplers not competing in a national qualifier.

“It’s an end-of-the-year open tournament (for individuals) that attracts (mostly) Division I guys that may not be starters,” coach Schuyler Frey said. “It should be very competitive.”

Reflecting on his team’s regular season, he said, “It’s been a difficult year with the number of guys staying on the roster. The main thing we’re looking at this second semester and wrapping this year up is just getting the team ready for next year. It’s a small group, but a great group of kids that are really bonding … I’m sure they are going to do some big things next year.”

Wrestling at Dover will be sophomore Ben Doll, of Glen Mills, in the 125-pound weight class; junior Zach Fitzsimmons, of Eldred, at 141; freshman Joe Swank, of Shanksville, at 149; senior Tanner Leid, of New Holland, at 165; freshman Andrew Hurd, of Spring Mills, at 184; and freshman Dylan Otis, of Towanda, at 285.

“It would really be great if we could get some placement. The top six are given the accolade of All-American, so that’s what we are looking for,” said Frey, in his seventh season.

In previous postseason tournament action under Frey, Penn College won the Penn State University Athletic Conference Championship in 2011-12, finished second in 2012-13 and third in 2013-14. It finished third in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Championships in 2011-12 and 2012-13; was sixth in 2013-14 and fifth last year; and, in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Championships, it finished 77th in 2010-11, 17th in 2011-12, 20th in 2012-13 and 24th in 2013-14.

This past week, as the regular season came to a close for the Wildcats, on Thursday they suffered losses to Wilkes University, 44-9, and King’s College, 48-12, and on Saturday to Ursinus College, 47-3, and Penn State Mont Alto, 30-21, to end 1-15. In contested matches against Wilkes and King’s, Swank and Otis got the lone Penn College wins. Leid won by decision against Ursinus.

Coming off a season during which his team won the North Eastern Athletic Conference championship, coach Chris Howard had high hopes for last year’s squad that never materialized. This year, he looks to get things back on track.

“We had a really nice recruiting class this year; a lot of good, hungry freshmen have come in and that always helps. When new blood enters into your program, that helps rejuvenate a lot of people. It’s not just freshmen that are excited, but it gets the whole roster excited,” said Howard, in his 11th season.

“Last year, we just could never right the ship and it exposed a lot of things that we needed to improve on, whether it was our physicality as an athlete, getting bigger and stronger. Clearly, our defense was just not very good last year, which is something that was new for our program. … That is something that we absolutely have to improve on this year. And hitting, we never got that timely hit. We struck out way too much,” continued the coach, whose career record at Penn College is 225-138.

“This year, we are driving it home to these guys that we have to be the best defensive team on the field every game, (and) we can’t waste opportunities to get runs across the plate any way we can.

“It’s almost like we’re giving the guys a sense of urgency that we need to step it up. We have the talent, we have everything we need to be successful. It’s in between our ears. That was our biggest problem and that is one of the areas that we’re really trying to address is the overall confidence of the team,” Howard said.

The Wildcats, who finished 13-23 overall and 4-8 in the conference last year, are scheduled to open their campaign at noon Saturday with a doubleheader at Lebanon Valley College. A week later, they go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to play seven games before returning for their home opener March 24.

Among the key returning players are junior pitcher Aaron Palmer, of Hanover, and sophomore second baseman Cole Hofmann, of Newtown. Palmer, who ended 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA, was named to the All-NEAC First Team last season and was a United States Collegiate Athletic Association Honorable Mention. Hofmann, who hit .336 with a team-high nine doubles and 22 runs batted in, was named to the All-NEAC Second Team.

“Cole was never overwhelmed or played like he was a freshman (last season). He just went out and excelled. This year, he came back bigger, stronger. He’s really worked on his defense. I’m looking forward to him having a good sophomore year. He’s certainly going to be one of those guys who make us go on offense,” the coach said.

“Aaron is a crafty-lefty. He does his job and he gets outs. We have some power arms on the team and in comes Aaron and he does his job. He’s one of the arms we’ve got to rely on if we are going to win another championship this year,” Howard said.

Looking at the start of the season, Howard said, “We’re going to find out pretty quick what type of ballclub we have and what areas we’re going to need to improve on.

“In the past, maybe some of us have had that attitude that we’re just using Myrtle Beach to get ourselves ready for the season and, this year, I told the guys that is absolutely the wrong attitude. We are going down there to do everything we can to win every game we play!”

In a preseason poll of NEAC coaches, Penn College was picked to finish sixth. Penn State Berks earned the top spot, followed by Lancaster Bible College, Penn State Abington, SUNY Poly, Keuka College, Penn College, Gallaudet University, Cazenovia College and Wells College.

Building early in the season and finishing strong. That is the goal Penn College archery coach Chad Karstetter has for his team.

A young squad forced the Wildcats to rebuild rather than reload last season, yet they produced two national champions and five All-Americans. With that nucleus returning from a team that finished eighth nationally, Karstetter, in his 15th season, is hopeful of getting his squad back among the elite in the country.

“So far, at the beginning of the season, everything’s coming together pretty well. We have quite a few returners from last year, because we had such a young team, so they’re all going to come back with a little bit more experience and a little bit more knowledge of what takes to achieve a good finish at nationals,” Karstetter said.

The Wildcats open their season Feb. 25-26 at the Pennsylvania Field and Target Archers Indoor State Championships in Taylor.

“I’m excited to see us going to an event close to home … to get a bit of experience for some of these guys who have never done it. … It definitely is going to give us something that we can go through the routine and give everybody a chance to see what it’s like to shoot up against a shot clock,” the coach said.

Among the key returnees are Andrew Rupp, a senior from Dayton, and Erica Gause, a sophomore from Bloomsburg, who teamed to win the mixed bowhunter national championship last season; and senior Markus Weber, of La Plata, Maryland, who was the male compound national champ a year ago. Those three, along with sophomore Tim Lamont, of Eldred, and junior Tyler Schoonover, of Bradford, both in male compound, earned All-American status as a result of their finishes at the indoor and outdoor nationals. As a freshman, Schoonover also won the male bowhunter national championship and was half of the mixed bowhunter national championship team.

“They were definitely some of the top archers in the (national) field last year. They’re definitely going to be a tough group of archers all year long – indoors and outdoors. I expect them to do very well,” Karstetter said.

Also back from last year are sophomore Logan Booth, of New Kensington, in male compound; junior Nicholas Daniels, in male recurve; sophomore Tanner Huff, of Altoona, in recurve; junior Justin Rinehimer, of Mountain Top, in male bowhunter; sophomore Adam Thomas, of Shade Gap, in male bowhunter; sophomore Kaylee Burk, of Hermitage, in female recurve; junior Chelsea Douglass, of East Greenville, in female compound; and sophomores Stephanie Plummer, of Port Matilda, and Sabrina Toplovich, of Spring Creek, in female bowhunter.

“Being that they’ve all been through it (nationals) once, they all come back this year with that much more experience and comfort of just knowing what to do and when to do it,” Karstetter said.

New to the team this season are freshmen Aaron Cummings, of Mountville, in male compound (his older brother, Matt, was a three-time All-American at Penn College in 2012, ’14 and ’15); John Kleinfelter, of Lebanon, in male bowhunter; Josh Maring, of Brookville, in male recurve; Sarah Decker, of Williamsport, in female bowhunter; and sophomore Rylee Butler, of Bellefonte, in female bowhunter. One of the latter two will switch to female compound.

The indoor season continues through mid-March, then outdoor competition begins.

“The indoor season means a lot, but everybody remembers how you did all year long by outdoor nationals,” Karstetter said, noting that, for the first time in three years, Penn College will host the Eastern Outdoor Regional on April 22-23.

“We’re excited to get it back again. It’s great to have a hometown event so people can come out and see what we actually do. I expect over 100 archers from 12 to 15 colleges or universities on the East Coast,” the coach said.

“Right now (as a team) we are in the average range. I want to build on that from last year. We have a lot of strong (archers) in each division, but then we have a lot of ones with not as much experience and a lot of new ones. So, hopefully, practices we get in the first two events they learn what they need to do and that will produce strong teams,” Karstetter said.

Men’s Basketball
Bringing their season to a close with games on Friday and Saturday, the Wildcats fell on Friday at Keuka College, 73-59, as Ben Sosa, of Loyalsock Township led the team in scoring with 22 points. On Saturday, they completed a 9-16 overall campaign and 7-13 conference mark after an 87-77 loss at Wells College. Sosa scored 27 points and Erik Perry, of Waldorf, Maryland, added 17. Senior Thomas Ross, of Williamsport, scored 12 points to close out his career with 1,044, sixth-best among men in Penn College history.

Statistically speaking: Marquis Delgado, of Mansfield, finished fifth in the NEAC with an average of four assists per game; Ross was ninth with an average of 7.5 rebounds per game; Jesse White, of Harrisburg, was 10th with an average of 7.2 rebounds per game; Delgado was 11th with an average of 1.7 steals per game; Sosa was 15th with an average of 15.1 points per game; and Erik Eichinger, of Villanova, was 15th in 3-point shooting percentage at 34.5.

Final NEAC South Division standings: Gallaudet University 18-2, Lancaster Bible College 12-8, Penn State Abington 8-12, Bryn Athyn College 8-12, Penn College 7-13, St. Elizabeth 6-14, Wilson College 6-14, Penn State Berks 6-14.

Final NEAC North Division standings: SUNY Poly 16-2, Morrisville State College 15-3, Wells College 14-4, Cazenovia College 9-9, Keuka College 5-13, SUNY Cobleskill 4-14.

Women’s Basketball
On Friday at Keuka College, Penn College fell, 74-44. Alicia Ross, of Williamsport, led the Wildcats with 16 points and Gwendolyn Lavelle, of Pocono Summit, added 12 points.

Closing out its season on Saturday at Wells College, Penn College lost, 66-36, to finish 3-22 overall and 3-17 in the NEAC. Lavelle led Penn College players with 12 points and Jane Herman, of Greencastle, scored 11. Ross, the team’s lone senior, didn’t play and closed out her career as the Wildcats’ all-time leading scorer with 1,515 points.

Statistically speaking: Herman finished third in the NEAC in 3-point shooting percentage at 38.5, Ross was fifth with 3.2 steals per game, Ross was ninth with 1.1 blocks per game, Ross was 13th with 17.1 points per game, Ross was 17th with 7.1 rebounds per game and Herman was 19th with 2.7 assists per game.

Final NEAC South Division standings: Lancaster Bible College 17-3, Bryn Athyn College 16-4, St. Elizabeth College 13-7, Penn State Abington 10-10, Penn State Berks 6-14, Penn College 3-17, Gallaudet University 3-17, Wilson College 2-18.

Final NEAC North Division standings: SUNY Poly 17-1, Morrisville State College 13-5, Keuka College 11-7, SUNY Cobleskill 10-8, Wells College 10-8, Cazenovia College 3-15.

Men’s Basketball
Final overall record: 9-16
Final NEAC record: 7-13
Friday, Feb. 17 – at Keuka College (NEAC), L, 73-59
Saturday, Feb. 18 – at Wells College (NEAC), L, 87-77
(end of regular season)

Women’s Basketball
Final overall record: 3-22
Final NEAC record: 3-17
Friday, Feb. 17 – at Keuka College (NEAC), L, 74-44
Saturday, Feb. 18 – at Wells College (NEAC), L, 66-36
(end of regular season)

Final overall record: 1-15
Thursday, Feb. 16 – triangular at Wilkes University vs. Wilkes, L, 44-9, and King’s College, L, 48-12.
Saturday, Feb. 18 – at Ursinus College, L, 47-3; vs. Penn State Mont Alto, L, 30-21
Saturday, Feb. 25 – at National Collegiate Open, Dover, Delaware

Overall record: 0-0
NEAC record: 0-0
Saturday, Feb. 25 – at Lebanon Valley College (2), noon

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 25-26 – PFATA Indoor State Championships at Taylor

For more, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

No. 27

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