The last weekend in February, the Golden Ram wrestling team competed in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Mid-East Conference Tournament in Easton, PA, and came out on top the team victors.It was an exciting day for the West Chester wrestling program, as they won the team championship, qualified six wrestlers for nationals, and coach Joe Miller was voted the Coach of the Year award by the Mid-East conference coaches.
Miller has worked hard these past few years, and is well deserving of the recognition. He has brought wrestling back to West Chester as a collegiate sport, and built a team from the ground up. In just two short years, he has already put together a squad that has won the Mid-East championship, and will hopefully be a feared competitor at nationals.
West Chester University entered three wrestlers at the 125 lb. weight class, and placed two of them in the top three to earn a trip to nationals. Mike Flynn went the farthest for the Golden Rams, as he won his first two bouts before losing in the finals to solidify a second place finish.
John Dickinson is the second wrestler at 125 going on to nationals. After winning his first match, he took a tough loss in the semifinals. It was a must win in the consolations to earn a bid to nationals, and his major decision in the consolations sent him on his way to Virginia.
Defending national champion Dillon Evans needed to make it through this tournament to defend his title. Evans battled the flu all week before, and after easily winning his first two matches to get to the finals, he forfeited the match to take home second place. His goal is to get healthy and be in top shape for the national tournament.
Cody Carrigan made a valiant effort, but it was too little too late as he fell just short of nationals with a fourth place finish at 149 lbs.
Steve Rathfon came up just short as well with a fourth place showing at 157 lbs. He made a great comeback to have a shot at third place, but was unable to compete in the consolation finals due to a shoulder injury.
Dustin ‘Tank’ Tancredi competed at 165 lbs., and he continued the pure domination he has displayed all season long. He made it look easy, pinning all three of his competitors as he took the title and earned a trip to nationals in Virginia. In his finals match, Tancredi pinned his opponent in the first period. His three falls earned him the Pinner Award for the tournament.
Kevin Bacci was the second Golden Ram wrestler to earn top honors in the meet. After a quarter final bye, he too pinned his next two competitors in under a minute, easily taking the title in the same rhythm as Tank.
Ryan Rozniakowski also competed at Bacci’s 174 lb. weight class, but came up just short with a hard earned fourth place finish.
Abe Brooks, at 184 lbs., took a tough loss as well, ending up fifth in his bracket. The win in the consolations helped West Chester in the team showing, giving them much needed points on their way to the team championship.
At 197 lbs., Brandon Banks was the last Golden Ram wrestler to qualify for nationals. He picked up a big pin in the semifinals, and then fell in a hard fought match for the championship, as he took the runner up spot and a trip to Virginia in March.
All in all, it was an outstanding day for the entire WCU wrestling organization. Six wrestlers will be traveling to Virginia for the NCAA national tournament, behind the strong coaching of Joe Miller, Alray Johnson, and Bruce “Doc” Colley.
Ryan Frisco is a third-year student majoring in Communication studies. He can be reached at RF648257@wcupa.edu.