Penn College Teams Face Busy Week
Busy, busy, busy. That is the kind of week that Pennsylvania College of Technology sports teams face.
Two Wildcat squads women's volleyball and men's cross-country will compete in United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championships, while three others men's and women's basketball and wrestling will begin their seasons.
On the Horizon Women's VolleyballCompeting at nationals for the first time ever, coach Bambi Hawkins is a bit unsure of what to expect.
"We are in a bracket with one team that we are familiar with PSU Mont Alto. I really haven't got a clue what to say since this is our first trip to this tournament. It will be a challenge to make sure the ladies are well-rested and ready to go," said the coach, in her 12th season.
The Wildcats, who finished second in the Penn State University Athletic Conference with a 16-2 record and are 20-9 overall, open pool play at 11 a.m. Thursday in Louisville, Ky., against Spalding University. They face Rochester College at 12:30 p.m. and then UC Clermont at 3:30 p.m. Pool play concludes at 10 a.m. Friday when Penn College meets Penn State Mont Alto. Competition continues Friday afternoon and concludes Saturday.
"I appreciate that the team got two days at the PSUAC finals to work on how to play on a bigger stage and am looking forward to seeing the facilities in Kentucky because I have heard they are amazing," Hawkins said.
"It's going to be a great week/weekend of volleyball. Unfortunately, not all of our team can travel due to class/clinical/family conflicts, but we have a healthy core to make a great effort possible," she said.
Other teams in the tournament are Florida College, Penn State Fayette, Southern Virginia, Lindenwood-Bellville and Robert Morris-Springfield.
Cross-Country Headed for the USCAA national championships at Mount Van Hoevenburg in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Friday, Penn College men's coach Mike Paulhamus said, "If everybody would run the races that I think they can run at the same time we should do really, really well. The top five is not out of the question." In three previous trips to the national meet the Wildcats have placed third, second and fourth, respectively.
Running the 8K course for Penn College will be Travis Cain, of Bloomsburg; Corvin Oberholtzer, of Wellsboro; Dan Flynn, of Blairstown, N.J.; Dan Starr, of Stewartstown; Ed Knyff, of Ocean Gate, N.J.; Will Fuka, of Clinton, Va.; Dan Rose, of Albrightsville; Joe Chadowski, of Fairfax, Va.; Bob Forbes, of Warren; and Seth Beckman, of Linden. Scores of the top seven count in team scoring.
Although Paulhamus said he knows nothing about the course, he has trained his runners for hills.
"We're doing hill workouts. These kids are very good hill runners. If you plan for running hills and you get a flat course, then your times are a little faster," said the coach, in his 12th season.
Men's Basketball With a new head coach and an almost entirely new team, the Wildcats have their work cut out this season. Penn College opens Thursday hosting Central Penn at 8 p.m. at Bardo Gymnasium on West Third Street.
Tony White, an assistant coach the past two years, succeeds Gene Bruno, who resigned as coach last month, and takes over a squad that is without its leading two scorers from a year ago (and in school history) in Greg Solyak and Leroy Joiner.
Solyak, who scored 1,626 career points, graduated, and Joiner, a three-time USCAA Division II All-American from Williamsport, is unable to play because he needs to focus on finishing his last year of school to get his degree, and also working to support his family. Joiner scored 1,620 points in three seasons and led the team in rebounding last year. Penn College was 14-4 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference a year ago, when it placed second in the conference for the second straight season, and finished 15-13 overall.
"This is definitely a rebuilding year. We have only two returning players. With a new coach and almost all new players, it will take a long time to learn the system. We really have our work cut out for us and it will be an uphill battle all year. We will be the underdog for almost every game this season," said White, whose roster includes 14 freshmen.
"Our early schedule is extremely difficult. Our first game is against Central Penn, which beat us last year and finished 10th in the country (among small colleges). Next, we play at NCAA Division II Mansfield, which won the PSAC East last year. Then we play the MAC champs, NCAA Division III Albright, in their tournament. With less than a month of practice before our opener, it will be difficult to expect the players to be fully ready for this level of competition," White continued.
"Bryant House, a sophomore from Columbia Cross Roads, is our most talented player and hardest worker at practice that's a great combination to have. A lot will rest on his shoulders this season," White said.
"Ethan Kline, of Bellefonte, who was with us in our trip to the conference final last year, returns as the starting point guard, and takes on the role of captain. He will be responsible to run the team on the court," White said.
"We do have a nice class of incoming freshmen, led by Jason Greenfield, of Wellsboro," the coach said, noting that, as of now, his starting lineup includes Kline at the point; Scott Fenton, of Dickson City, and Greenfield on the wings; and House and Nick Deleon, of Bronx, N.Y., inside.
White is assisted by his older brother, Pete, a former First Team All-State high school player who helped Williamsport Area High School win the state Class AAAA championship in 1984 and then went on to start four years at Yale University where he set the Ivy League assist record.
"Pete has unsurpassed basketball knowledge and the perfect personality for coaching. He is capable of being a Division I head basketball coach, so to have him as an assistant at this level is hard to believe.
"Our players and coaches have been working extremely hard thus far. Our emphasis right now is intensity, especially on defense. On offense we are emphasizing fundamentals and learning the system. Success for us this year would be to put out supreme effort, improve each day, and learn the system so we have a solid base to build on for the future. I must give my players credit as I am pleased with our effort and progress in practice thus far," White added.
Women's BasketballMatt Wilt enters his second season as coach with only nine players on the roster, but, with four of them returning from last year's team, he is hopeful of continued improvement. The Wildcats open their season at 6 p.m. Thursday, hosting Central Penn at Bardo Gymnasium.
"A lot of girls committed and then decommitted at the last minute, but the girls we have on the roster all can play so they'll all contribute," Wilt said.
Key returnees are juniors Kierstin Steer, of South Williamsport, last year's leading scorer and a two-year player with 601 career points; Casey Braun, of Hughesville, who averaged 6.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a year ago; and Abigayle MacDonald, of Red Lion.
"They know the system. They know what we want to do, so that's going to help a lot," Wilt said. "I expect big things from them."
"Everybody is pretty equal. They could all start or they could all come off the bench," he added of the rest of his players.
Defensively, Wilt will use a man-to-man. Offensively, he looks to have his players push the ball and work it inside to Braun and Steer.
"Our goal is to be in the top four," Wilt said of his Penn State University Athletic Conference hopes. Last year, the Wildcats were 6-8 in the conference and 8-15 overall.
"As coaches, we know what we have to do. I have to do a little bit better job preparing. I think we should be fine, but we've got to get in better shape because we don't have a lot of girls for the things we want to do defensively and pushing the ball on offense," said Wilt, who is assisted by Erica Logan.
WrestlingPrior to last season, when it had a limited schedule of mainly exhibition bouts, the last time Penn College sponsored an intercollegiate wrestling team was 1983. Now, under coach Schuyler Frey, the Wildcats are ready for a full season of action. They open at 5 p.m. Saturday against Elizabethtown College.
"Probably the biggest thing we learned (last season) was we need to be in better wrestling condition," Frey said, recalling a specific match against Bucknell University. "We found we were competitive with people at our level for the most part. We just needed to get more people on the team as far as dual meets."
This season's roster includes 21 wrestlers, 19 of them freshmen, yet Frey is very optimistic about his ultimate goal: "Nothing less than the national championship. We keep telling the guys that we want to train to be a national champ and things will fall together if we train like that. We want to set our goals high and try to achieve it.
"This year, the overall talent is a lot better than last year. This year, we have enough talent at all of the weights to push each other," Frey continued. "They're young, but there is a lot of good talent. I'm excited about that."
In the first National Collegiate Wrestling Association Coaches' Poll, Penn College is ranked No. 25. At last year's end-of-the-season national tournament, the Wildcats finished tied for 42nd in a 77-team field, according to the NCWA website.
One of the returnees is Tyler Myers, of Centre Hall, a national qualifier at 157 pounds. The other is Derek Anderson, of Ellsworth, at 197. Both were keys to last year's national finish.
Among the potential starters this season are either Staccato Butler, of Baltimore, or Kyle Sunseri, of Athens, at 141; Derek Leiby, of Troy, at 149; Levi Speicher, of Manns Choice, at 157; either Tyler Myers of Austin Clark, of Elysburg, at 165; Paul Crutchlow, of Morris Plains, N.J., at 174; Logan Gresock, of Wadsworth, Ohio, at 184; either Anderson or Jasper Ocker, of Burnham, at 197; Alex Myers, of Horsham, at 235; and Christian Mccue, of Bergenfield, N.J., at 285.
Frey wrestled in high school at Warrior Run in the late 1970s and, after intramural wrestling while he served in the Navy, has coached in the sport at various levels since. His son, Luke, is a freshman wrestler on the Penn State varsity squad. Frey is assisted by David Livermore.
"I'm excited because the guys are working so hard. They're pushing each other and, hopefully, we can guide them in the right way to get a number of All-Americans this year," Frey said.
Penn College's immediate forerunner, Williamsport Area Community College, sponsored wrestling teams from 1968 through 1983, when the sport was suspended. During that time, it won eight championships, including three straight from 1971-73 and five in a row from 1977-81. The program began under coach Dale Sullivan. From 1970-8,2 Max Wasson guided the Wildcats to a 95-39-1 record and all of its championships. Ed Roadarmel was the team's last coach in 1983.
Flashback Men's Soccer Tristan Smith, of Bermuda, scored both goals on assists from Patrick Kehoe, of Oley, as second-seeded Penn College closed out its PSUAC season at 9-1-1 with a 2-1 win on Monday over fourth-seeded Penn State Hazleton to clinch its second conference championship in a row and earn a berth in the USCAA national championships.
Goalkeeper Aaron Volz, of West Chester, stopped three of four Hazleton shots on goal. Penn College finished the day with 12 shots on goal as it avenged a 1-0 regular-season loss to fourth-seeded Hazleton. The championship is the fifth in six seasons under coach Enrique Castillo.
In the first round of the USCAA national championships at Asheville, N.C., on Thursday, the seventh-seeded Wildcats allowed two first-half goals in a 2-0 loss to second-seeded Briarcliffe College. "We didn't come out strong," Castillo said. "They scored two quick goals before we settled and that was all they needed. "¦ We were a different team in the second (half). We started getting more offense together but couldn't finish."
In the team's season finale Friday, Penn College edged sixth-seeded Southern Maine Community College, 1-0, to complete a 13-7-2 season. Freshman Sterling Weikel, of Dewart, scored the lone goal on an assist from Phil Bair, of Franklintown. David Munn, of Athens, recorded nine saves in the match.
Weikel was named to the USCAA All-Tournament Team. William DeAngelo, of Dallas, and Chris Brennan, of New Hope, were named Honorable Mention on the USCAA All-American Team, while DeAngelo; Isaac Hostetter, of Lebanon; Munn; and Ben Shade, of Fleetwood, were named to the USCAA National All-Academic Team.
Fifth-seeded Lindenwood-Belleview captured the national championship with a 2-1 win over Briarcliffe.
Women's SoccerIn a makeup Monday, the Wildcats lost to Alfred, N.Y., University, 4-0, to finish 3-7-2. Kierstin Steer, of South Williamsport, was named Honorable Mention on the USCAA All-American Team, while Brandy Krause, of Pine Grove; Lauren Hammer, of Centre Valley; and Kerry Weber, of Saylorsburg, were named to the USCAA National All-Academic Team.
Schedule/Results Cross-CountryFriday, Nov. 11 USCAA championships at Mount Van Hoevenburg in Lake Placid, N.Y., noon
Men's Soccer Final overall record: 13-7-2 Final PSUAC record: 9-1-1Monday, Oct. 31 host Penn State Hazleton in PSUAC championship, W, 2-1 Thursday, Nov. 3 vs. Briarcliffe College in USCAA National Championships at Asheville, N.C., L, 2-0 Friday, Nov. 4 vs. No. 6 Southern Maine in USCAA National Championships at Asheville, N.C., W, 1-0
Women's Soccer Final overall record: 3-7-2Monday, Oct. 31 at Alfred, N.Y., University, L, 4-0
Women's Volleyball Overall record: 20-9 Final PSUAC record: 16-2Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Nov. 10-11-12 USCAA National Championships at Louisville, Ky.
Men's BasketballThursday, Nov. 10 host Central Penn College, 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 at Mansfield University, 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 host King's College, 7 p.m.
Women's BasketballThursday, Nov. 10 host Central Penn College, 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 host Newport News, Va., Apprentice School, 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Pitt-Titusville, 6 p.m.
WrestlingSaturday, Nov. 12 at Elizabethtown College, 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16 host Penn State Greater Allegheny, 7 p.m.
Vol. 10, No. 12