WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — In front of a packed house in the specialized half-bowl wrestling set-up at the Marts Center, Wilkes wrestling took down the Penn College Wildcats, 36-12.
“Our guys performed well,” said head coach Jon Laudenslager. “It was a great environment from our students coming. It was packed.”
Senior Nick Racanelli echoed Coach Laudenslager’s remarks, stating, “Just having every (Wilkes athletic) team out tonight – all of my fans here, all of the other students. Them coming out played a big factor in tonight’s match.
“I’m just excited where we’re at right now with our team,” Laudenslager said. “I think we’re clicking right now. Our guys are getting after people. It was just a great event.”
In the meet-clinching bout, Racanelli won via technical fall, but it did not come without a scare. Early in the match, Racanelli found himself in a headlock from Penn College’s Daniel Bergeron at 165 pounds.
“I was a little nervous because the crowd was big,” Racanelli said. “I got headlocked in the beginning, but I was able to come back and get the (technical fall). For me, that was just awesome. I was very happy with the outcome. It just got me and my teammates motivated to get out there and get after it.”
According to the Jan. 30 Intermat Wrestle rankings, Racanelli is ranking No. 3 at 165 pounds.
“I’m looking to win that region title and for my third appearance at nationals, I want to be that number one spot,” Racanelli said.
Just after Racanelli at 174 pounds, senior Ashton Gyenizs found himself in a bit of trouble as well. Penn College’s Dylan Gettys nearly locked up a cradle midway through the second period, but Gyenizs was able to turn the tables and land a pin just seconds later.
“With that cradle reversal that I hit, it’s a little unorthodox but I kind of practice that a little bit in the (wrestling) room,” Gyenizs said. “Once he got me there, I wasn’t too nervous about it. I just went back to what I know. I mean, it’s a little weird, a little unorthodox but I was comfortable there. I was able to come out on top.”
It was also Wilkes wrestling alumni night where past alumni gathered to enjoy a night of wrestling.
But while the dual victory is enjoyable, Laudenslager noted there are greater things ahead with the NCAA Southeast Regional tournament coming up at the end of the month on Feb. 22 and 23.
“That’s what it’s about,” Laudenslager said. “That’s what our seniors are working hard for.”
“We’ve got some other guys that are looking to knock on that door to get to the national tournament. We’ve got a great three weeks to prepare for that. The dual meets just kind of keep us fresh. We want to stay healthy for in three weeks at Lycoming for when we try to qualify for the national tournament.”
Prior to the match, Wilkes honored its five seniors, Patrick Miko, Tommy Stokes, John Ritter, Racanelli and Gyenizs in its senior night program. Racanelli was also presented a 100-win plaque by Vice President for Student Affair, Dr. Paul Adams. Racanelli notched his 100th career victory in a fall back on Jan. 11 in the Budd Whitehill duals at Lycoming College. He became the fourth Colonel wrestler in the last seven years to secure a 100th win.