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LHU set to compete at the MAC Championships in college wrestling

The Lock Haven University wrestling team is set to compete at the 2021 Mid-American Conference Championships on Friday and Saturday hosted by Rider University.

It will be nearly a full calendar year since the Bald Eagles last competition in wrestling, which came at the 2020 MAC championships. Last season marked LHU’s first year in the MAC as an affiliate member for wrestling and that 2020 championship marked Lock Haven’s official Mid-American Conference postseason debut.

Behind one individual champion and seven placewinners, the Bald Eagles placed fifth in their debut outing at the MAC championships last season. Two of those seven placewinners return for this year’s championship in the form of Luke Werner and Austin Bell. Werner was third last year at 125 and Bell placed seventh a year ago at 165. Bell will compete at 174 pounds this weekend. Parker McClellan (197) is the third Bald Eagle who returns with MAC-championship experience from a year ago.

Looking to lead the way for the Bald Eagles this weekend will be Werner, who was named a 2019-20 National Wrestling Coaches Association honorable mention All-American. By way of a third-place finish at the 2020 MAC championships, Werner was set to make his NCAA championship debut before the tournament was cancelled.

With Lock Haven back in the mix, Werner was quickly slotted back into a number of individual national rankings. This week, he checked in at No. 17 at 125, according to FloWrestling.

Jonathan Ross will also make his official return to the lineup this weekend after redshirting last season. Ross, who bumped up to 157 pounds last season, was nearly unstoppable in his 2019-20 redshirt-season. He capped his redshirt-season with a National Collegiate Open title after picking up over 50 wins last season at various tournaments.

Cole Manley will get the call at 141 pounds this weekend. Back in the fall, he was projected to be LHU’s starter at 133 and was nationally-ranked in several preseason polls. Competing at last season’s (2019-20) Southern Scuffle, Manley, who was unseeded at 133, capped his breakout performance with a fifth-place finish.

Matt Maloney got plenty of experience last season at 125 as a true-freshman, but he’ll also move up a weight class this weekend and compete at 133 pounds for the Bald Eagles. The aforementioned Bell came on strong for Lock Haven last year at the MAC tournament and he will look to carry over that important postseason-experience this weekend. He recorded over 20 wins for LHU last season.

On Tuesday, the MAC released the pre-seeding for the championships and two Bald Eagles earned pre-seeds. Werner will enter the tournament seeded No. 4 at 125 and Bell is seeded at No. 8 at 174. The two earned their seeds by way of their status as returning MAC-championship placewinners. Without any other competition to date this season, no other LHU wrestler was eligible to receive pre-tournament seeds.

Recently, the NCAA announced the pre-allocations and first coaches ranking for the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Without competition to date this season, no Bald Eagles were eligible for the coaches’ rankings.

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