West Chester Claims Mid-East Conference Title
The West Chester University wrestling team crowned two individual champions and claimed the team championship Saturday, February 27 at the NCWA Mid-East Conference Tournament at Lafayette College. The icing on the cake, though, was the conference “Coach of the Year” award that was presented to WCU coach Joe Miller. This award was voted on by the coaches of the all the Mid-East Conference teams. Along with assistant coaches Alray Johnson and Bruce “Doc” Colley, Coach Miller has worked tirelessly over the past two years to bring the Golden Ram program back to prominence. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team. Doc and Alray are just as deserving of this award. This coaching staff and our wrestlers have accomplished some great things in a short amount of time.” Coach Miller continued, “We have tremendous support from the many dedicated Golden Ram wrestling alumni, which has been a significant factor in the resurrection and reemergence of the great sport of wrestling on the WCU campus. I see nothing but more great things in the future for our program.” WCU will be well represented at the NCWA National Championships on March 11-13 in Hampton, VA. With the top three at each weight class qualifying for the nationals, the Golden Rams will have six wrestlers vying for All-American honors in Virginia. Here’s the rundown on how the West Chester competitors fared.
125 – In a weight class that featured three returning national qualifiers, WCU’s three entries had their work cut out for them. Mike Flynn started out by knocking off Williamson Trade’s Norm Switzer in a tight, one point bout. An injury default victory in the semi’s over Delaware’s Matt Mooney, earned him a spot in the finals and a trip to nationals. Mike lost to the eventual tournament OW, Northampton’s Tony Fusco, to take runner-up honors. After dropping his semifinal bout to Fusco, John Dickinson then beat Switzer on his way to the consolation final, where he picked up a major decision to claim 3rd place and a spot in the national tournament. Jason Mandragona also battled hard, but was unable to reach the podium.
149 – After battling the flu bug all week, Dillon Evans picked up two dominating wins, then forfeited the final and finished in 2nd. Cody Carrigan was also fighting off the flu, but managed to battle his way to 4th place, losing to former Michigan state champion Paul Hancock of Army Prep and Blair Academy’s Mark Cirello. He did pick up a big win over returning All-American Paul Hallowell.
157 – Steve Rathfon took returning All-American Eric Powell from Williamson Trade to triple overtime in the semi’s, but came up just short. A bad shoulder hampered him in the consi’s, where he squeeked out a one point win, but was not able to compete in the final and finished in 4th place.
165 - Dustin “Tank” Tancredi was exciting, as usual, as he recorded three straight falls on his way to the championship. His first period clamping of Slippery Rock’s Adam Knepper in the finals was a thing of beauty and one of the highlights of the day. Tank also earned the “Pinner Award” for the tournament with those three falls.
174 – A quarter final bye and two pins under a minute put Kevin Bacci on top of the podium and solidified him as a contender for a national championship in Virginia. He put down Northampton’s Tyler Foreman in the finals. Ryan Rozniakowski came up just short in his quest for a national berth, earning a hard fought 4th place finish, winning some tough bouts along the way.
184 – Abe Brooks came oh so close to a spot in the finals and a trip to nationals, but eventually fell to Army Prep’s Shawn Sweaney in the semi’s. Another tough loss in the consi’s put Abe in the 5th place bout, where he won by fall to pick up some valuable team points.
197 – Looking for a return trip to nationals, Brandon Banks brought the Golden Ram faithful to their feet with a big pin over former New York state champion Matt Ferber from Lafayette in the semi’s. A 7-5 setback in finals to Army Prep’s Jeff Ducote would leave Brandon as the runner-up.