Wilkes wrestling wastes no time preparing for 2016 season


Jesse Chalnick

Nick Racanelli and Jessie Lopez go head to head during an intense practice.

Rachel Leandri, Managing Co-Editor

The Wilkes University wrestling team has stepped foot into the upcoming winter season finishing third place at the Monarch Invitational hosted by King’s College on Nov. 5. Six Colonels placed in the top finishes of the tournament, while two wrestlers claimed individual titles.

Wilkes attends the Monarch Invitational each year as it allows multiple wrestlers from each school to participate giving every wrestler a chance to compete with the team during opening weekend. Head coach Jon Laudenslager, beginning his 14th season of the Wilkes wrestling program, is extremely pleased with the efforts of his team at King’s. 

“Sophomore Jesse Lopez had a terrific day beating the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the county and closing out finals with a pin,” Laudenslager said. Both Joshua Evans and Zachary Faust showed tremendous improvement this Saturday since past seasons, and Denzel Tovar turned many heads when he beat a returning national qualifier in his very first match.”

Junior Joshua Evans, individual title holder of the Monarch Invitational, stated that being the first competition of the year, the team had its moment to showcase all of the hard work put in during preseason. The first official practice for Wilkes wrestling was held Oct. 10, aside from preconditioning runs and workouts instructed by upperclassmen of the team since the second week of the semester.

Since wrestling is a commitment, Laudenslager and staff emphasize the importance of excelling in the classroom just as much on the mat. If wrestlers are struggling at practice, chances are they are struggling in a 101 class that doesn’t suit their interests, he said. The true goal of the coaching staff is to instill the mindset of dedication and being able to overlap that mindset into all daily routines of the team.

“Our coaches keep us at high intensity in our matches and hold us accountable for being at practice physically as well as mentally,” said individual title holder of the Monarch Invitational, sophomore Jesse Lopez.

With the season just kicking off and finals and holiday breaks quickly approaching, wrestlers strategize so they don’t stray from both their personal and team goals. 

Sophomore wrestler Zachary Faust finds it tough with a major in pharmacy, but plans to take one step at a time whether with a school assignment or match to push through the end of the semester with confidence.

“It’s all about time management and sacrifice,” explained freshman Denzel Tovar. “In this way, I can foresee my team knocking out a lot of nationally ranked opponents and finish top 10 in the country, and maybe even meet my goal as a freshman to finish the season as an Academic All-American with 25+ wins.”

Faust feels coach Laudenslager is always helpful when it comes down to the stress of academics allowing him not to worry too much.

No matter the obstacles, Wilkes wrestling program is ready to tackle the upcoming season as a unit.

“The most rewarding part of Wilkes wrestling is being a part of something that’s bigger than you,” Evans stated.  “On this team I’m held to a higher standard that is measured by alumni who have demonstrated success not only in this program, but also within professional careers. It sets a standard signifying that hard work pays off.”