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LHU wrestling coach Moore touts recruiting class, fundraising as ways to keep team successful

SUN-GAZETTE FILE Lock Haven wrestling coaches Scott Moore, left, and Rob Weikel, right, coach Chance Marsteller during the 2019 NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh.

In a town hall meeting on Zoom with supporters of the Lock Haven wrestling program, Bald Eagles coach Scott Moore called his incoming class of recruits easily the best he’s had in his time at LHU.

In an hour-long video conference Thursday afternoon, Moore spoke about some of those recruits, updated fans and supporters on the financial situation facing the Lock Haven wrestling program, an unveiled a new way for supporters to help the program.

“With the effects of COVID, everyone is in a tough position,” said Moore, who just finished his seventh season as head coach. “There’s a lot of mid-level programs being cut, including some wrestling. It’s a scary time for everybody. But as someone who is invested in this program, we want to make sure we do a good job to create sustainability in our program, and create awareness with the administration and the students on campus about our program.”

Moore and assistant coaches Nate Carr Jr. and Ronnie Perry all spoke to the dozens of fans who participated in the conference about now being an important time to help keep the Lock Haven wrestling program at the level of success it has become accustomed to in recent years. Part of that process is replacing the seven seniors the Bald Eagles will lose next year, most of which experienced multiple trips to the NCAA tournament, including Kyle Shoop who was a 2019 All-American.

Moore is still waiting to receive a couple National Letters of Intent before he can release the entire recruiting class, but it is already shaping up to be an impressive group. It includes PIAA champions Will Betancourt and Tyler Stoltzfus, as well as four-time Georgia state champ Nick Stonecheck and Michigan state champ Sage Serbenta, who were both originally committed to Old Dominion, but came to Lock Haven after the ODU program was cut.

“This is the future of the program,” Moore said. “We’ve invested a lot of time, efforts and finances in this recruiting class. These guys have those expectations on their shoulders of what we’ve done recently and it’s our job to develop those guys and help them come along and graduate and go on to be successful in and out of wrestling.”

“With this recruiting class, in the next two, three, four, five years you guys will see the benefits of having such a big and talented recruiting class coming in,” Perry said. “This will be one of the classes that makes a huge difference in our program. It will keep the ball rolling and make sure Lock Haven wrestling continues to stay relevant and moves into the Top-15 and Top-10 in the country in the next few years.”

But with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing Lock Haven to close campus, Moore and his staff are now in a situation where it needs to find new ways to raise the money it would have generated from summer camps and clinics. Those monies go directly into Lock Haven’s general scholarship fund to be distributed among the Bald Eagles’ teams.

In Moore’s years with Lock Haven, he has helped grow, through fundraising projects, the wrestling program’s scholarship equivalency from about four when he first arrived to nearly nine this year. The NCAA allows college wrestling programs a maximum of 9.9 scholarships to be distributed by teams. And with the government likely having less money to give to state universities like Lock Haven, they have to find new ways to raise some of that money.

The hope is that grant applications submitted for COVID relief may help to ease some of the burden. But the staff has also set up a web page where fans can donate to the program (https://www.givegab.com/campaigns/lhu-wrestling). The fundraising drive is set for 90 days with a goal of raising $50,000.

“I think our program is safe right now because of the history we have and the success we’ve had recently,” Moore said. “But we have to continue to be relevant. It’s about being a Top-20 program. It’s about having 400 to 500 people at the national tournament like we did in Pittsburgh. We’re going to be proactive to find solutions to find people to make commitments who can do their part to help us continue on this upward trend.”

Because of the financial limitations Lock Haven and the wrestling team is facing, Moore said the schedule will look a little different next season. It’s planning on staying regional, traveling no more than five or six hours and mostly by van. It’s all in an effort to control costs and to keep the wrestlers as safe as possible.

Moore also said the National Wrestling Coaches Association recently voted almost unanimously to move the collegiate wrestling season to a single semester. What that likely means, if it’s approved by the athletic directors and the NCAA, is that the season won’t likely start until January.

“I don’t know what the end result will be, but I would anticipate a late start to the season,” Moore said. “But we’re hopeful, like everyone else, that we can start our season and start the development process with these guys.”

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