Before Thanksgiving break, the KU wrestling team split 10 matches with the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown, but lost 24-17 in their dual opener. With three prominent starters inactive, KU then faced American International. Despite a weaker line-up, KU handily defeated American International College 40-6. The only loss coming from a controversial pin that raised a lot of speculation.
Regular starters Evan Yenolevich, Austin Ormsbee and Bo Candeleria all sat this weekend for various undisclosed reasons. However, looking at the bench, injury did not appear to be the issue.
Replacing the starters for their first dual meet competitions at the collegiate level were sophomore Joe Bickleman at 165 and freshman Tony Farace at 133. With experience, junior Brandon Davis also stepped in at 133. Farace is a three-time state champion from Maryland where he wrestled for Oakland Mills.
The match began with a forfeit at 125. Junior Nick Lamoreaux took the win and stepped off the mat, immediately giving the Golden Bears a 6-0 lead. Farce walked onto the mat soon after and dominated his opponent. After taking the American International wrestler down easily, he continued to ride him and tire him out. He recorded a pin with one second left in the first period at 2:59.
With the score at 12-0, Davis piled on the victories with a dominant 11-6 victory. His footwork in neutral was key to the win, he made the other wrestler look like an amateur, putting a clinic on for the packed Golden Bear gym. The match was then 15-0.
KU’s only “loss” came at the dismay of 149 senior Mitch Voelker. Voelker took a quick lead in the match against nationally-ranked Christopher Hoffman. Voelker’s two takedowns in the first period had him up 4-1 in the match. As the match dwindled down, the score remained the same as Voelker began to ride his opponent out.
When the third period began, both wrestlers were hungry for a win, but Voelker had the match sealed. In a scramble which left Voelker underneath his opponent trying to funk out of the compromising position, the referee quickly called a pin even though Hoffman never scored a point in the scramble. The crowd was outraged because you could see the space between the mat and his shoulder blade.
“It was a rough loss I should have won,” Voelker said, “My team was behind me, and it’s just one loss. We’ll get him next time. Did you hear my dad screaming from the stands? Classic.”
With the controversial call behind them, the Golden Bears sent Matt Martoccio in to will a win. It was another dominating performance. Power double after power double muscled his way to a 15-6 decision easily.
Bickelman was the next to saunter on to the mat, his first home meet of his career. Though he was not a starter, his performance made it look like such. An early takedown made people realize Bickelman wasn’t playing around out there. Soon after, Bickelman locked in a vicious cradle, rolled it over and stuck his opponent for six.
Veteran Ricky Pena was up next and he turned his opponent repeatedly for an 11-0 victory. Senior Giovanni Ortiz did much of the same thing for a 12-0 victory. These two seem to be a dominant part of our line-up this year. Two victories like that really solidify this notion.
Two other dominating victories came at the end of the line-up, weight classes 194 and 285. Senior Vinnie Campanile, had a particularly close match, winning just 1-0. Neither he nor his opponent recorded a single takedown, the entire match. Campanile recorded his only points when his opponent chose top and he escaped. Campanile chose neutral in the third and again neither opponent could manage a single takedown. His opponent seemed frustrated with 10 seconds left and just stood in the middle of the match not urgent to takedown Campanile. Solid positioning was the key to his victory.
Finally at 285, ZIad Haddad pushed his opponent every which way in this one. In a match that literally looked like David versus Goliath, Haddad towered over his much shorter opponent. Haddad was just one point shy of winning by technical fall; he won 15-1. He improved his record to a perfect 7-0.
Quite frankly, this was the perfect match to have before they host the PSAC Championships this coming weekend, Dec. 8. This is the first time in years that KU hosted the much-anticipated event.
There are several teams competing at PSACs; two Division I teams competing are ranked in the top 25 in the nation. Edinboro University is ranked 19th nationally and Bloomsburg is ranked 25th nationally. Former KU wrestler Justin Grant will be wrestling for Bloomsburg this coming weekend. He is currently an astounding 11-0 this year.
Other teams competing include the following: Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Gannon, Lock Haven, Mercyhurst, Millersville and Shippensburg.
“We’re really excited about this coming weekend,” Campanile said. “It’s a chance for us to showcase what we’ve got in front of our crowd. The last turnout was excellent and think it’s going to give us the edge we need to finally win the tournament.”
The past five years, Edinboro has come in first place four times and Clarion won just once. KU finished eighth last season out of 10 teams and has never won PSACs ever. Lock Haven leads all schools in PSAC Championship wins at 19. KU’s best finish in the past 10 years has been seventh.

By Frank Lippincott

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