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Student-athletes’ memorable moments recalled

The loss of the fall and more recently winter sports seasons to the coronavirus pandemic allows time for reflection on some past achievements of student-athletes at Pennsylvania College of Technology and its forerunner, Williamsport Area Community College.

Among them:

The Moment: Men’s cross-country 10 straight championships.

When it happened: 2003-12.

How it happened: Led by the third-place finish of sophomore Dan Flynn, of Blairstown, New Jersey, Penn College, under coach Mike Paulhamus, outdistanced Penn State Greater Allegheny, 32-53, on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, for its 10th straight conference championship and eighth in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. In Paulhamus’ second season, Penn College won Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association and Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference crowns in Fall 2001. The Wildcats finished second in the PCAA the following year, before stringing together 10 straight: PCAA and EPCC in 2003; PCAA, EPCC and Commonwealth Campus Athletic Conference in 2004; and then Penn State University Athletic Conference crowns from 2005 through 2012. In addition to those championship seasons, the Wildcats finished second in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championships in 2009. Paulhamus was inducted into the Penn College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014.

Quotable: “When we started out, it was just two-year eligibility, and I would lose somebody and the next season I would pick somebody up. When we went to the four-year program, it was nice that I could keep some of the talented kids around for four years,” Paulhamus said. “I enjoyed every season. Some years I had a lot of kids and some years I didn’t have very many kids, but we just seemed to be able to make it work.

“With (then-athletic director) Mike Stanzione’s help, we took the Penn College cross-country team from being a (Penn State) satellite school and just competing against other satellite schools and we started intertwining Division III and sometimes a Division II school (into the schedule). … We showed that we had kids that could compete and be competitive.

“The highlight was that national runner-up team. It all clicked when we went to that meet in Concord, New Hampshire. They did a pre-meet ranking and we were supposed to finish sixth or seventh, and with a little hard work by my No. 4 and No. 5 runners running their butts off, it helped us get a second-place finish. We still talk about that when we get together.”

The Moment: Men’s soccer team wins seven of eight championships.

When it happened: 2004-08 and 2010-12.

How it happened: The string began in Fall 2004 when coach Andy Richardson’s team finished 19-2 and won the Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Assn., Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference and Commonwealth Campus Athletic Conference championships. Richardson retired after that season with a 105-50-10 career record and, in 2014, he was inducted into the Penn College Athletic Hall of Fame. The Wildcats’ success continued one year later under coach Jeff Finn when they finished 12-5 and captured the Penn State University Athletic Conference title. Then, during seven seasons under coach Enrique Castillo, Penn College went 102-24-6 and claimed PSUAC crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Quotable: “The school drew an incredible talent of students and individuals from all over — the United Arab Emirates, American players, Canadian players, Pennsylvania, other states — so it was a pleasure on my part to coach those guys, and I played a lot in tournaments with them, too,” Richardson said. “They are all good, good memories. In many cases, we had struggled so hard years before to beat some of those teams who were top dogs in the league and finally we got our opportunity to do so. It was great for the kids. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my lifetime.”

“What I remember the most is the chemistry we had with the players and the players who came through the program who wanted to take it to the next level,” said Castillo, who also played soccer at Penn College in the early 2000s. “Everybody came together every year to try to win a championship.

“We wanted to compete at the highest level, so I’m glad that we kind of paved the way, in a way, for where the college is now.”

The Moment: Coed tennis team wins four of five championships.

When it happened: 2008-12.

How it happened: Under coach Aimee Plastow, Penn College went 17-2 in Fall 2008, 17-1 in Fall 2009 and 8-4 in Fall 2010, claiming Penn State University Athletic Conference titles each season. Plastow retired after the 2010 season with a 42-7 career record. Then, in Fall 2012, Penn College went 7-1 under second-year coach Robert Kemrer, and claimed yet another PSUAC crown after his team ended second in 2011. In 2013-14, separate men’s and women’s teams were established.

Quotable: “It was a good run. I had great teams. I have to throw it back on them, they did everything I asked them to do and they worked really hard. They earned it,” Plastow said. “That first year it came down to the wire and both the girls and the guys just held it together.”

Before he succeeded Plastow as the coach, Kemrer was a player on the team and he recalled, “When I came in in 2008, we had a great group of kids come in, especially Shane Burridge, of Ephrata, and we all just bonded as a team. And when coach Aimee Plastow came in, it made a big difference with her knowledge and her ability to bring the best out of everybody. She pushed the team to be the best we could be.

“The most memorable thing for me was winning those championships with a lot of my close friends. And when I took over as head coach, there still were some core members from the team left so I was coaching previous teammates but friends as well, so it kept a really close-knit group, which really helped.”

Academic honors
During the fall semester, Penn College student-athletes posted a 3.22 department GPA with 26 students earning a perfect 4.0 GPA and 88 being named to the Dean’s List.

Earlier this fall, it was announced that the Penn College men’s and women’s soccer teams had been honored with United Soccer Coaches 2019-20 Team Academic Awards. Other North Eastern Athletic Conference programs honored included the Penn State Abington and Wells College women.

To be recognized on the annual list, college soccer teams must post an average team GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Penn College men came in at 3.05 and the women at 3.03. It was the third such honor for each squad.

Athletics gift received
A gift from the family of Williamsport-area entrepreneur and real estate developer Dan Klingerman will fund renovation of the Wildcat Athletics office suite at Penn College. The family’s recent donation also will establish the Klingerman Family Wrestling Fund at the college.

For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.

For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

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