Over the break, the Golden Bears were on the mat making a name for themselves. At the NCWA/ Cliff Keen Duals the KU wrestling team wrestled five matches and won three of them; this was good enough for seventh place. After the duals, KU went 4-1, being upset by only Mercyhurst University. Currently, 197 senior Vinnie Campanile and 285 sophomore Ziad Haddad are ranked nationally in the country.
It was quite the adventure for the Golden Bears when school let out for winter vacation. Immediately, the team was rushed to Springfield, IL to wrestle in the National duals. The NCWA/ Cliff Keen Duals are no joke. Only 16 teams are invited to compete and the top 8 get an automatic invitation back to compete. Of the five matches KU wrestled, four of their opponents were ranked.
KU narrowly lost the first match 23-15 to the fifth ranked Upper Iowa. All but one match was decided by major decision for Upper Iowa. The second match of the day was against the 20th ranked UNC-Pembroke that turned out to be a much closer match than KU wanted. KU won 25-16 and had a lot of assistance towards the end of the line-up. Both Campanile and 174 senior Giovanni Ortiz picked up huge wins.
The last match of the first day of competition was against the sixth ranked Grand Canyon; KU won the match 26-19. Campanile came up with yet another clutch pin, really proving his worth. The real hero of the match is newly starting 165 freshman Wade Rivera. His sudden victory win 4-1 seemed to spark the rest of the team.
On the second day of competition, things did not start off well. The second ranked team in the country demolished KU bright and early in the tournament semifinals. Not a single KU wrestler came out with a win, getting shutout 45-0. However, they came back strong with a win for a seventh place finish. They defeated eighth ranked Findlay 19-12. Haddad managed the only extra points in the match, gaining a major decision 10-2. KU won six of the 10 bouts.
After an impressive outing at the national duals, KU wrestled two matches in Erie, PA. The first was a win against Gannon University. The second was an extremely disappointing loss to Mercyhurst University.
“Believe me, this was unexpected,” said 125 junior Nick Lamoreaux. “We just got the momentum finally and our team was clicking. From seventh in the nation to losing matches against unranked opponents, rough living.”
Despite a couple poor dual meet efforts, the team wrestled strong in the NCAA Super Region I Duals in Newberry, SC. Besides their last match against 20th ranked Ouachita Baptist University, it was an onslaught by KU. The team first shutout Ohio Valley University 47-0 and then beat Anderson University 40-6.
Against Ouachita, the Golden Bears won by a score of 27-16. For most of the match, it was very close. The two deciding factors were both pins. The first pin coming from 133 junior Brandon Davis. The second pin coming from none other than Campanile, who made quick work his opponent in 1:24.
“Yeah man, we’re wrestling real good,” Campanile said. “It’s nice to live with a bunch of my teammates, they’re keeping me motivated. Especially Mitch (Voelker) and Evan (Yenolevich), they have been a huge help keeping me focused.”
Currently Campanile is ranked 8th in the nation at 197. Haddad is also ranked at 285 at the sixth position. One other wrestler received national acknowledgement, but not in the top eight. Yenolevich is currently honorable mention at 141, a weight he is usually uncomfortable wrestling.
Campanile has the most wins on the team with a 19-5 record. Haddad may not have more wins, but he has a better record at 18-2. Yenolevich has the third most wins at 14, followed by junior Matt Martoccio with 13.
Another category Campanile leads in is falls with six for six. In second place are both Martoccio and sophomore Barndon Parker with four each. Haddad has the lead for major decisions with five, leading junior Bo Candeleria who has four. The last extra point category is technical falls, led by sophomore Jackson Stabile with two.
Ranked seventh overall, the Golden Bears have a record of 9-4. Their PSAC record is 1-1; four more conference matches will certainly change that. Of the final four dual meets, two are home and the others are away. Lucky for the Golden Bears, the NCAA Super Region I tournament is also in Kutztown. Their next home match will be Friday, February 8 at 7:30.
By Cloyd Brown