The wrestling season, with six grapplers headed to the National Collegiate Wrestling Association championships, is coming to a close this week while the baseball and softball seasons are set to get under way for the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
In action Thursday through Saturday at Daytona Beach, Fla., will be Kyle Sunseri in the 141-pound weight class; Derek Leiby at 149; Tyler Myers at 157; Logan Gresock at 174; Paul Crutchlow at 184; and Jasper Ocker at 197. All are freshmen other than Myers, a sophomore.
Leiby captured the championship in his weight class and was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler during Mid-East Conference action last week while Myers and Gresock placed second and Crutchlow third to earn automatic berths in nationals. Sunseri placed fourth and Ocker fifth and were awarded wildcard spots at Daytona Beach.
The national event brings together wrestlers from five other conferences. In team competition last year, Penn College finished tied for 42nd in a 77-team field. Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. Thursday, continues Friday and concludes Saturday.
"Our goal has to be to win a national championship. I always tell the guys to set their goals high and work for that. I wouldn't be surprised if we came away with a number of all-Americans (top eight places)," said second-year coach Schuyler Frey.
Since the conference tournament, Frey has had his wrestlers fine-tuning their conditioning and healing physically.
"Now, we're keeping things loose, and hopefully keeping them sharp mentally," the coach added.
The start to this season already is better than all of last year for coach Chris Howard.
"I think we had one practice outside the entire spring (a year ago). This year, we've already been out up to 10 times," the coach, in his sixth season, said.
The Wildcats open their campaign today in a spring break tournament at Myrtle Beach, S.C., against the King's College JV squad. Games continue each day through Friday.
Key returnees include Garrett Hornung, a senior at second base and team captain; Skylar Gingrich at first base; Harrison Myers and the team's No. 1 pitcher; Matt King catching; Jared Johnson in right field; Tom Hughes at shortstop; and pitchers Josh Longsderff; Phil Carnevale; Brian Santangelo; and Jarod Bull.
"We've got a good mix of returners and a good freshman crop. This is probably one of the deepest teams I've had since I've been here," Howard said. "It's a good mix and the guys have been working hard. They really seem to be focused, which is good. The guys know this could really be a big year for us.
"It's probably a more complete offensive team than we've ever had before, which is exciting," Howard continued. "Defensively, we're as solid as we've ever been."
A year ago, Penn College went 22-11 overall and 13-9 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, where it finished third. In a preseason poll of the conference coaches, the Wildcats were picked to finish third behind PSU Greater Allegheny and PSU Brandywine. Penn College plays its home games at Bowman Field.
Last season at Myrtle Beach, the Wildcats got off to a slow start as they dropped all six of their games. This year, coach Roger Harris begins his 11th season with an almost all new squad and an open mind.
"We have some great ballplayers. We have a lot of high hopes for our team. Are we looking to go down and do better? We are. Realistically, we're going down to see what we have player-wise and use that time to shift girls around to different positions, shift the batting lineup around, try to explore our team and address things accordingly," Harris said.
Penn College opens its season today against Southern Vermont in Myrtle Beach.
Team leadership will come from pitcher Lacy Lose and second baseman Sabrina Reynolds. Both are sophomores. Other sophomores on the squad are Brittany Hoey and Dana Ritter. Freshmen make up the rest of the 17-player roster, including No. 2 pitcher Megan Apker.
"We had a very strong team for four years and we did well. Last year we went to nationals for the first time. We knew this year would be a rebuilding team, but we have a lot of high hopes. It's just a matter of getting them out there and getting their feet wet. We'll go and be as competitive as we can be," Harris continued.
"We think we're going to have a strong offensive team. We do have some fast girls and some power girls. We have some pitching depth. I think we're going to be very strong defensively," the coach said.
Penn College was 14-16 overall last season and 10-5 in the PSUAC, where it finished third. The Wildcats, who play their home games at Elm Park, placed eighth in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national tourney.
Overall record: 6-3
PSUAC record: 5-1
March 8-9-10 NCWA National Championships at Daytona Beach, Fla.
Saturday, March 9-10 U.S. Indoor East Region Championship at Harrisonburg, Va.
Monday, March 5 vs. King's College JV at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9 a.m.
Monday, March 5 vs. Eastern University JV at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 12:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 6 vs. Danville, Va., at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9 a.m.
Wednesday, March 7 vs. Ancilla College, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 8 vs. Westmoreland, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 3 p.m.
Friday, March 9 vs. Danville, Va., at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9 a.m.
Wednesday, March 14 at PSU Harrisburg, 1 p.m.
Sunday, March 5 vs. Southern Vermont at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, March 5 vs. King's College at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 11:30 a.m.
Tuesday, March 6 vs. Swarthmore at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, March 6 vs. Miami-Hamilton at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 7 vs. Eastern University at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday, March 7 vs. SUNY-Ithaca, at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, March 8 vs. Owens at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 9:30 a.m.
Thursday, March 8 vs. Olney at Myrtle Beach, S.C., 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, March 17 vs. PSU Harrisburg at Elm Park, 1 p.m.