YORK, PA – The York College wrestling program is set to host the 2014 NCAA Division III Mideast Regional at the M&T Bank Field House at the Grumbacher Sport & Fitness Center in York, PA on Sunday, March 2.
The Spartans welcome 16 other teams to York to compete in the one day, double-elimination tournament. The top three winners in each weight class will advance to the national championship tournament on March 14 & 15 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Elizabethtown returns as the defending regional champion but are unranked coming into the regional. Messiah is the top ranked squad at the regional as they are currently third in the country. SUNY Brockport is ranked 18th while the University of Mount Union is right behind them at 19. Heidelberg checks in at 23rd while Waynesburg is 27th. Thiel is the sixth ranked squad in the tournament as they are 29th in the country.
The tournament features 17 nationally ranked wrestlers. The 125-pound class is loaded with a trio of ranked grapplers. Messiah's Lucas Malmberg is fourth with Brockport's Matthias Ellis is sixth and Baldwin Wallace's Jesse Gunter is seventh.
There are two ranked wrestlers in 141, 157, 165, 174, and 197 pound weight classes.
The tournament features seven returning champions from the 2013 Regional tournament at Ohio Northern. Brockport's Ellis is 22-5 and the defending champion at 125 pounds. York's Joey Giaccio (Cranford, N.J/Cranford) is the defending champ at 133 as he enters the tournament with a mark of 21-7. Elizabethtown's Jesse Meaney has been limited this year with a mark of 7-2 but he is the returning champion at 141 pounds. John Carroll's Terner Gott is the returning champ at 157 and he has been very good in 2014 with a mark of 21-4. Waynesburg's Sam Guidi won the 165-pound class last year despite being the eighth seed in the weight class in Ada. Guidi has followed up last year's performance with a mark of 25-8 in 2014. Messiah's Josh Thompson has been a beast this year at 184 after winning last year's regional title. Thompson is a stellar 37-4 heading into Sunday's action. Brockport's John Wilkinson is the returning heavyweight champion as he has accumulated a mark of 27-4 this year.
The three weight classes without a defending champion are 149, 174, and 197.
Here is a preview of each team in the order that they finished at last year's regional (finish and point total in parenthesis).
ELIZABETHTOWN (1st – 101 points)
Elizabethtown, which qualified five individuals for the NCAA Division III Championships in 2013, has had a much tougher go of it in 2013-14. Injuries have forced the Blue Jays to alter their lineup on a match-to-match and tournament-to-tournament basis, with the team never really being able to wrestle at its peak. The Blue Jays are led by senior and returning All-American Julian Meaney (184 lbs.), who placed fourth at nationals a year ago. Meaney is sure to be one of the most dangerous wrestlers in the bracket, capable of knocking off anyone, but health has been an issue. He's only wrestled two matches all season.
Sophomore Chad Lammer (11-6), a returning national qualifier at 133, is back in that bracket for the Mideast Regional after splitting time at 133 and 141 during the regular season. 165-pounder Zeke Zimmer (18-11) was fourth at 174 at last year's regional tournament, barely missing out on a trip to nationals. Senior Kyle McNulty (125 lbs.) is the most seasoned of E-town's entries, having wrestled 96 times with a 54-42 career record. He is 18-9 in 2013-14.
MOUNT UNION (2nd – 93 points)
The 19th ranked Mount Union Purple Raiders finished second at the Mideast Regional a year ago and again look to contend in 2014. Jon Garrison, the Raiders lone returning national qualifier from a year ago, enters this week with 30 wins and is ranked No. 7 nationally at 157 pounds. Jeremy Border has 23 wins and is ranked No. 5 in the nation at 133 pounds while Nick Rajcsak at 197 pounds also has 23 wins and went undefeated in Ohio Athletic Conference matches as Mount Union's other top wrestlers.
SUNY BROCKPORT (3rd – 83.5 points)
The College at Brockport Wrestling team enters the 2014 Mideast Regional with four returning national qualifiers including returning All-American Matthias Ellis. The Golden Eagles also return with 2013 national qualifier Jordan Dyer who qualified at 141 pounds as a freshman and now wrestles at 149 as a sophomore. Heavyweight John Wilkinson qualified last year and returns after missing the first semester of the season. Senior 197-pounder Paul Glover was a national qualifier in 2012 before sitting out all of 2013. Brockport also sports a solid list of contenders at other weights with freshman Roy Daniels as the #8 ranked wrestler in the country at 165 pounds and senior James McCabe who has won 18 matches at 133 pounds this season for the Golden Eagles. Brockport has won five National Championships and has had over 130 All-American wrestlers under head coach Don Murray in his 45th season at the helm.
HEIDELBERG (4th – 75.5 points)
Third year head coach Ned Shuck brings five nationally ranked Student Princes to the Mideast Regional to represent Heidelberg University wrestling and the Ohio Athletic Conference. D3wrestle.com ranks Heidelberg sophomores Nino Majoy and Colin McDermitt at ninth and tenth at 285 and 133-pounds respectively. 125-pounder Delian Schneider, 165-pounder Jeremy Stepp and 197-pounder Jason Russell have all been in d3wrestle.com's rankings throughout the course of the 2013-14 season. Shuck will look to the experience of Schneider and 184-pounder Richard Dowdley in York, as the duo are the only two returning NCAA qualifiers. This season, the Heidelberg University wrestling team conquered the OAC and secured their second consecutive conference title under Shuck. After finishing 5-0 in conference dual action and 13-10 overall, the Berg grapplers laid claim to the seventh OAC regular season championship in program history.
MESSIAH (Tied for 5th – 73.0 points)
With a 21-2 duals record, 14-match winning streak, and four tournament wins, No. 3 Messiah College has quickly become a premier Division III wrestling program on the east coast, as well as the country. Duals tournament victories this season occurred at the John Reese Duals, Mt. Union Duals, and Budd Whitehill Duals. The Falcons hold tournament victories at the Messiah Invitational, Roger Williams Invitational, Petrofes Invitational, and MAC Championship, along with a third place finish at the Pete Willson-Wheaton Invitational. Helping the Falcons to their 3rd place national ranking (NWCA & D3Wrestle.com) are four wrestlers in the top-ten of their weight class (D3Wrestle.com): Lucas Malmberg (125, 4th), Kaleb Loht (141, 1st), Ricardo Plummer (174, 5th), and Josh Thomson (184, 5th). Head coach Bryan Brunk is in his 11th season with the team.
OHIO NORTHERN (Tied for 5th – 73.0 points)
Ohio Northern finished its injury-plagued 2013-14 dual meet season with an even 9-9 record. The Polar Bears are led by junior Cody Lovejoy, who is ranked #8 nationally at heavyweight. Lovejoy leads the team with a 37-3 record and ranks second nationally with 22 pins. He also stands as the fourth-most dominant wrestler in Division III, averaging 4.77 team points per match this season. Lovejoy finished third at last year's NCAA Regional and was a winner of the prestigious Elite 89 Award, which is given annually to the student/athlete with the highest GPA among all those competing at the all 89 of the NCAA Championships events. Sophomore Tyler Gargano is second on the team this season with a 26-4 mark at 174 pounds. Sophomore Colt Lovejoy is expected to compete at 165 pounds after missing the past several weeks with an injury. He is third on the team with an 18-6 record. Seniors Ryan Fowler, Cody Harting and Michael Pawlitz, junior Cole Cochran, sophomore Dillon Brancheau and freshman Kyler Deeter are also expected to compete for the Polar Bears.
WAYNESBURG (7th – 65.5 points)
The Waynesburg University wrestling team, champions of the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) return three national qualifiers to this year's Mideast Regional Tournament. The Yellow Jackets are led by senior returning All-American Luke Lohr, who placed seventh in the country at 149 pounds last year. Lohr comes into the event with a flawless 18-0 record at 149 pounds, and a 26-5 mark overall. He will be joined by senior team captain Anthony Bonaventura, who boasts a 31-3 mark, all at 174 pounds, and junior Sam Guidi, who won the 165-pound championship at last year's Mideast Regional tournament. The Jackets have won team titles at their own invitational and the John Summa Memorial Tournament, which was hosted by Baldwin Wallace University. Other individuals to watch for the Orange and Black include senior 157-pounder Sam Lombardo (15-9), senior 184-pounder Cameron Fine (28-8) and sophomore heavyweight Greg Kumer (23-14), who are all mentioned in the D3wrestle.com rankings. Waynesburg set a new program record this season with 15 dual wins (15-6) and is currently ranked by both the NWCA (26th) and D3wrestle.com (27th).
YORK (8th – 60.0 points)
After struggling early in the season, the York College Spartans, under first year head coach Duane Bastress, are rolling heading into the post season. The Spartans finished the regular season with a mark of 11-8 after starting the season 1-5. York is paced by dynamic freshman Nick Zak. Zak has posted at team-leading 24 wins at 184 pounds. Among his win total are three major decisions, three tech falls and six pin fall wins. Junior Joey Giaccio returns as the 133 pound regional champion but will compete at 141 this time. Giaccio went 21-7 during the regular season as he looks for a return trip to the national championship tournament. Sophomore heavyweight Mike Spencer has posted 17 wins for the Spartans while freshman Ryan Flynn has performed well at 133 pounds as he has accumulated 19 wins. York does not have a senior in their starting lineup heading into this year's regional tournament.
THIEL (9th – 54.0 points)
The Thiel Tomcats (15-7) and 11th-year head coach Craig Thurber return to the Mideast Regionals sporting a lineup consisting of six underclassmen and four juniors. Seven of those ten have won 20 or more matches so far this season, led by junior 197-pounder Jake Lowry, who stands at 33-0 on the year. The Albert Gallatin high product has 19 bonus-point victories this season, ten of which came by pinfall. Fellow junior and returning All-American Jordan Powell won a Presidents' Athletic Conference individual title at 174-pounds this season and is 20-6 on the season. A trio of freshman, Vince Vahaly (125), Robert Ritschard (141), and Chris Nuss (149) all have 20 or more wins in just their first year as Tomcats.
JOHN CARROLL (10th – 54.0 points)
The John Carroll Blue Streaks enter the regional with a dual meet mark of 4-7. The Blue Streaks are anchored by a trio of wrestlers in the middle of their lineup. Dan Mirman, Terner Gott, and Thomas McNulty have been fantastic for JCU all year long. Mirman mans the 149 pound weight class and owns a record of 21-4 overall. Gott, the defending regional champion at 157 looks to defend his title with a stellar 21-4 mark including an 8-0 dual meet mark this year. McNulty, a freshman, owns a 22-8 mark at 165. Freshman Sal Corrao is 15-8 at 125 pounds while junior Todd Gaydosh is 15-4 at 184 pounds for the Blue Streaks.
WASHINGTON & JEFFERSON (11th – 35.0 points)
Washington & Jefferson College enters the regional with momentum after having four wrestlers crowned as Presidents' Athletic Conference champions three weeks ago. The four conference champions were the most by the Presidents since 1999. Senior 157-pounder Josh Etzel leads the quartet as the 11th three-time PAC champion in school history. He enters the regional with a 26-2 record and was an All-American last year as the 157-pound sixth-place finisher. Sophomore 125-pounder Jacob Spearman is hoping to qualify for the national championships for a second-straight year and is just the 25th Presidents' wrestler to win at least two PAC titles. Sophomore Nick Carr transferred to W&J recently from Division II Seton Hill and is a perfect 6-0, while senior David Dibenedetto (19-8) hopes to earn his first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
LYCOMING (12th – 28.5 points)
Lycoming completed its most successful season in four years, posting a 13-8 dual meet record. With a lineup loaded with five 20-match winners in junior Caleb Willey (141, 28), freshman Seth Lansberry (149, 31), freshman Nolan Barger (157, 26), junior Brian Watkins (165, 21) and senior Greg Wetzel (184, 28), the team has several grapplers that have the ability to place on Sunday. Barger enters the meet with an 11-match winning streak and a 26-10 record on the year, currently sitting in the honorable mention portion of the d3wrestle.com rankings. Lansberry, with a 31-8 record, enters the NCAA Mideast Regional third in Division III in wins at 149 pounds.
MOUNT ST. JOSEPH (13th – 27.5 points)
The College of Mount St. Joseph Lions finished the regular season with a dual meet mark of 2-10 overall. The Lions are led by senior standout Wayne Black as the 141 pounder went 32-11 last year. Black was the top seed at last year's regional and finished fourth in the tournament, narrowly missing out on a trip to the national championships. Other top wrestlers for the Lions include Luis Godines (149), Nick Manning (174), Tyler Ray (184), and Nathan Islamovsky (197).
MUSKINGUM (14th – 18.0 points)
The Muskingum University wrestling team is paced by senior Luke Weber and freshmen Jonathan Raugh and James Keys. Weber has notched a team-best 16 wins in the 197-pound class, with six falls. The four-year letterwinner finished third at the Waynesburg University Invitational and fifth at the Baldwin Wallace University John Summa Tournament. Raugh has recorded eight wins in the 141-pound class and registered a pair of pins. He finished fourth at the Baldwin Wallace John Summa Tournament. Keys, a heavyweight, has won three straight bouts.
Under second-year head coach Mark Hawald, the Case Western Reserve University Spartans finished the regular season at 4-12 in dual matches. The four victories equaled the program's win total from the previous five seasons combined. Individually, freshman 149-pounder Luke Marcelli leads the squad with 28 victories (28-10 overall). Two-time All-University Athletic Association sophomore Josh Hall is 16-6, and freshman 174-pounder David Brunk is 19-16 with a team-high seven pins. Last season, the Spartans tied for 15th at the NCAA Mideast Regional as Hall placed fourth at 125 despite having his day ended early due to injury.
RIT (Tied for 15th – 13.0 points)
RIT enters the 2014 Mideast Regional having won six dual meets on the season and also competed at five tournaments during the year. RIT features junior Brad Mayville (149 lbs.), who is currently 27-9. He was an Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference Wrestler of the Week and won his weight class at the RIT Invitational. The Tigers also feature junior Rory Bruce, who is 15-7 at 133 pounds, and sophomore Nicholas Greenquist, who is 20-7 at 165 lbs. Greenquist was also an ECWC Wrestler of the Week.
BALDWIN WALLACE (Did not participate in last year's regional)
The Baldwin Wallace University wrestling team under the direction of third-year head coach Jamie Gibbs enter the 2014 NCAA Mideast Regionals with a dual match record of 8-3 and one tournament title and two other top-three finishes. The Yellow Jackets are led by a quartet of second year wrestlers. 125-pounder Jesse Gunter who is ranked ninth nationally, leads the team with of 26-4 and has an impressive two-year record of 45-6. 165-pounder David Shapiro is second on the team with a mark of 38-10 and a two-year mark of 65-24. 157-pounder Garret Chase ranks third with a record of 27-8 and has a career mark of 59-21. 174-pounder Ben LeBrun is having his best season thus far with a record of 28-10. Rounding out the top eight wrestlers for BW are sophomore 285-pounder Joe Belford, sophomore 149-pounder Joey Schmidt, senior 133-pounder Andrew Taylor and freshman 197-pounder Andrew Shackelford.
Wrestling starts at 9:00 am and doors open to spectators at 8:00 am. Tickets are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for senior citizens 65 and older and students under 18. Complete tournament information is available at www.ycpspartans.com.
A special thank you the respective Athletic Communication offices of each school for providing individual team capsules.