Penn College Athletics Has Plenty to Celebrate
In its fourth season as a member of the North Eastern Athletic Conference, and first as a full-fledged member of NCAA Division III, the Pennsylvania College of Technology Athletics Department has plenty to celebrate this year, including:
Three second-place NEAC finishers (baseball, men’s cross-country and women’s soccer); one third-place NEAC finisher (men’s golf); two other top-four finishers (men’s soccer and women’s softball); 11 all-NEAC First Team honorees; 12 all-NEAC Second Team honorees; 12 all-NEAC Third Team honorees; a NCAA Division III Regional Wrestling fourth-place finisher; and, in archery, an individual national champion, a team third-place finish and four All-Americans.
If they didn’t learn it throughout the regular season, Penn College archers now know for sure that they can’t beat the weather.
Fighting through what coach Chad Karstetter described as a “wild week of weather” May 17-20 at the U.S. National Outdoor Collegiate Archery Championships at Easton Newberry Sports Complex in Newberry, Florida, the Wildcats still managed to come away with one individual national champion, a team third, four All-Americans and an overall Top 10 team finish.
“(There were) lots of delays due to thunderstorms, lots of rain and it was very humid. There were some pretty tough conditions. I’m pretty sure every athlete would say they wished they would have done better,” said Karstetter, in his 16th season as coach.
Individually, freshman Nathaniel Haefka, of Wyalusing, captured the men’s bowhunter national championship, becoming the 10th Penn College archer to achieve that distinction since 1999 and the first since 2016.
As a result of their indoor and outdoor national results, Haefka was joined by teammates Tyler Schoonover, a senior from Bradford; Tim Lamont, a junior from Eldred; and Rylee Butler, a sophomore from Bellefonte, as All-Americans. It was the third such honor for Schoonover, who also earned that status in 2015 and 2016, and second for Lamont, who also was an All-American in 2016. Since 1997, 43 Wildcats have been accorded All-American honors 88 times.
“(Assistant coach) Dustin (Bartron) and I were very pleased with having four All-Americans. We were close on a few more, but with the weather delay and cancellations of part of the qualifying round we still needed a few more arrows,” Karstetter said.
“On Sunday for the head-to-head elimination round, it rained pretty much all day and it was some of the roughest conditions to shoot through. Haefka shot strong all day. … As a freshman he showed a strong mental game to fight through not only strong competition but also the weather,” Karstetter said.
In other individual competition, Lamont ended fourth in the men’s compound, senior Justin Rinehimer, of Mountain Top, was sixth in men’s bowhunter and Butler was seventh in women’s bowhunter.
In team competition, Haefka, Rinehimer and freshman David Fox, of Coburn, placed third.
Also for Penn College, Haefka; Lamont; Schoonover; Butler; junior Tanner Huff, of Altoona; and junior Erica Gause, of Bloomsburg, were named academic All-Americans.
Entering nationals, Penn College didn’t field teams in three divisions, yet it managed to finish seventh in the country, one place higher than in each of the past two years and extend to 11 the number of consecutive years it has finished in the top 10.
“This year was great. The team shot strong all year and we will build upon it for next year,” Karstetter said. "We graduated four this year: Markus Weber, of La Plata, Maryland; Schoonover; Chelsea Douglass, of East Greenville; and Rinehimer. These archers were a large part of the success of this year’s program and will be missed.”
For the second year in a row, the Wildcats finished second to Penn State Berks in the NEAC while completing a 20-15 campaign overall, 11-5 in all conference games.
“Recruiting is an all-year thing, but in the summertime we ramp it up. … We’ve got some good kids coming in. We’re really close, really close to turning this thing around and getting to that place where Berks is right now,” Penn College coach Chris Howard said.
Four Penn College players were named to the All-North Eastern Athletic Conference Team as sophomore , of Millville, was named to the First Team; while senior , of Centre Hall; and sophomores , of Topton; and , of Waynesboro,were named to the Second Team.
In 12 seasons, Howard’s teams have gone 270-166.
Going into the season, the Wildcats had high expectations that never materialized as they finish 3-22 overall and 2-14 in the NEAC. In three seasons under coach Ryan Callahan, the Wildcats are 15-59 overall, 12-42 in the conference.
Penn College finished 2-22 overall and 1-15 in the conference under second-year coach Lauren Healy, who continues to rebuild the program.
“Despite our record and what the stats show, the members of the team and coaching staff are doing more than meets the eye. We continue to work hard every day and show that, even with limited numbers, we can still compete with the best of them. We, as a team and staff, have learned a lot these last two seasons, but I am hopeful that these challenging seasons will soon be coming to an end,” said Healy, whose two-year record is 5-44 overall, 4-32 in the NEAC.
Led by a second-place individual finish from sophomore Josh Velez, of Lewistown, the Penn College men wrapped up their third season under coach Nick Patton with a second-place team finish in the NEAC Championships while the Penn College women, paced by a fifth-place individual finish from freshman Sidney Trunzo, of Williamsport, ended ninth. Velez and Thomas Runner, of Elkridge, Maryland, who finished fourth, were awarded NEAC First Team honors while Matt Leiby, of Danville, was named to the NEAC Second Team and Chris Traugher, of Bath, to the NEAC Third Team. Trunzo was an all-NEAC First Team honoree.
“They’ve worked very hard throughout the season and got what they deserved. … I think we did amazing. The program is getting better and better. We are headed in the right direction for sure,” Patton said. “We ended on a high note and I think this will propel us to a pretty good season next year, as well.”
Penn College concluded its ninth season under coach Matt Haile with a third-place finish in the NEAC, its best in four seasons in the conference. Individually for the Wildcats, Austin Moscariello, of New Columbia, had a two-day 158 total and tied Ned Baumbach, of Elizabethtown, for fifth place overall. Also for Penn College, Ben Fails, of Hummelstown, and Brian Whelan, of Cresco, tied for 14th as they finished with 165s and Eli Dyer, of Wallingford, Connecticut, tied for 20th with a 169 total. Moscariello was awarded All-NEAC First Team honors, Baumbach Second Team honors and Fails and Whelan Third Team honors.
“I’m extremely proud of how we played. … Overall, when we look back, they played great. … We have a lot to take from this year and move forward with our program,” Haile said.
“Things are moving in the right direction. With the recruiting that I’m doing, I’ve got some guys on paper who look pretty good for next year, and being a rather young team, I’m looking forward to next season,” the coach said.
After being picked in the preseason to finish 11th, the Wildcats under coach Tyler Mensch went 8-12-2 overall and 5-5-2 in all conference matches where they reached the NEAC semifinals. Senior Malcolm Kane, of Ardsley, was named to the All-NEAC First Team, becoming the first All-NEAC Soccer First Team selection in program history. In three seasons under Mensch, Penn College is 18-40-3.
“We’re a young squad. We won four games last year (3-10 NEAC) and now, all of the sudden, we win eight games this season and make it to the Final Four. It’s just going to help bring in good players. We’re putting ourselves on the map. We’re not quite there, as far as being at the top, but final four is a good place to be,” Mensch said.
Penn College went 9-8-5 overall during coach John McNichol’s fourth season and finished second in the NEAC with a 6-3-4 mark in all matches. The Wildcats also had a program-high seven players named to the All-NEAC team as Ashley Donat, of Lenhartsville; junior Jane ; and sophomore , of Smithtown, New York, were named to the Second Team, while senior Hailee ; sophomore Brecia Beck, of Lancaster; and freshmen of Benton; and Taylor Gonzalez, of Lititz, earned Third Team honors. It marked Hartman’s third all-NEAC honor – second-team last year and third-team the year before – and Herman’s second straight second-team honor. Hartman also broke Penn College career record for points and goals.
“This was a very special year. For me, personally, and programwise, it was incredibly special,” McNichol said, alluding to the birth of his first son and the way his players embraced his family. “You can tell, that’s what they want out of our program: They want it to be a family, they want to be together, they loved being around each other, and I couldn’t be happier … They are awesome to be around.”
Competing in the NEAC playoffs for the third straight season under coach Jackie Klahold, Penn College went 1-2 to finish 14-21 overall, 8-9 in all NEAC games.
Commenting on the season, Klahold said, “Jeff (assistant coach Jeff Tomb) and I and the girls definitely believe that we have been improving this program and we feel as if we have a team that can be competitive with any of the top teams in our conference, so we’re very proud of that.
“We probably met the expectations. … Last year, we didn’t get to the Final Four. We keep improving every year, which we did. Through the playoff round the girls were starting to come together more as a team and playing consistently. We’re definitely looking forward to completing things next year and improving on where we ended up this year.”
Also, Penn College placed four players on the All-NEAC team as Krow was named to the First Team, freshman was named to the Second Team, and sophomore , of Fairport, New York, and freshman , of Marysville, were named to the Third Team.
In three seasons, Klahold’s teams have gone 52-54 overall, 33-21 in the NEAC.
In their second season under coach John Machak, the Wildcats were 7-6 overall, 4-2 during all NEAC matches, and had an outstanding finish in the individual portion of the conference tournament with three champions, two second-place finishes, one third and two fourths. And, Machak was named the conference’s co-coach of the year.
Taking titles for Penn College were Garrett Benner, of Selinsgrove, at No. 3 singles, Stephen Helminiak, of Williamsport, at No. 6 singles, and Helminiak and Ethan Rosler, of Bloomsburg, at No. 3 doubles. Will DeMarco, of Glen Mills, placed second at No. 4 singles and teamed with Benner to end second at No. 2 doubles; and Luke Whitenight, of Berwick, and Blake Whitmire, of Shickshinny, placed third at No. 1 doubles. Whitmire, at No. 2 singles, and Joe Morrin, of Morrisville, at No. 4 singles, ended fourth.
Awarded All-NEAC First Team honors were Benner, at No. 3 singles, Helminiak, at No. 6 singles, and Helminiak and Rosler at No. 3 doubles. DeMarco was named to the Second Team at No. 4 singles and with Benner at No. 2 doubles. Whitenight and Whitmire were named to the Third Team at No. 1 doubles.
“Across the board, the guys just played so well. The other coaches, the other players were saying how great of a team we have and I’m just excited that I’ve got most of these guys for two more years. We’re going to be so good next year and even better the year after that. This is just the start,” Machak, whose men are 9-18 in two seasons, said afterward.
The women’s squad, also coached by Machak, ended 1-12 overall, 1-4 in the NEAC. Junior Emily Bell, of Jersey Shore, finished third at No. 4 singles in the individual portion of the conference tournament, earning Third Team honors.
“They (the women) hit better over the course of the year. The best player easily was Emily Bell, she has become a really consistent tennis player,” the coach said, adding, “We do have some good recruits coming in for (next) season, so we’re optimistic.”
In two seasons under Machak, the team is 3-24.
Returning for her 14th season after four years away, coach Bambi Hawkins guided the Wildcats to an overall record of 3-16, 2-7 in the NEAC. Hawkins’ career mark with Penn College is 187-129.
Commenting on her team’s season, Hawkins said, “It was pretty obviously a year with potential to build. With only three returning players, the freshman class had to be relied upon in unexpected ways. … Because we anticipate needing to increase the experience level of our team quickly, we are actively recruiting young ladies who have played several years of high school and club volleyball.”
In their first season under coach Jamie Miller, the Wildcats compiled a 7-20 dual match record. The seven wins were the most in a season since 2012-13. Also, freshman Jared Mooney, of Palmerton, became the first wrestler in school history to place in NCAA Regionals, where he was fourth in the 197-pound weight class.
“Moving into next year, we have six guys who we feel really great about, who we really feel comfortable moving forward with. We’re going to bring in a very strong recruiting class that is going to push these guys and add a little depth to the lineup and hopefully fill every weight class. We’re excited with where we’re going next year,” Miller said.
Best of the Best
During the college’s awards ceremony in late April, junior Krow, softball, and Kane, men’s soccer, were named Athletes of the Year.
Women’s cross-country runner Trunzo and wrestler Mooney were named Newcomers of the Year.
Junior Thomas Runner, of Elkridge, Maryland, men’s cross-country, and senior Hanna Williams, of Marion, New York, women’s soccer and tennis, were named Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
“I am really proud of our coaches and student-athletes who are doing a great job in their respective sport but also in the classroom and in the community. They have truly embodied the NCAA Division III spirit of academics, athletics and community service,” said John Vandevere, director of athletics.
“Our athletic records were very good this year and we got better in many areas from last year. I see a very bright future for our teams’ success on the field, court, mat and diamond but what they have accomplished in the classroom and in the community speaks volumes to me,” Vandevere continued.
“We have surpassed last year’s record numbers with this year going over 2,642 community service hours as well as fundraising $4,683 for charities. Our student-athletes in the classroom have been dominant, as well, with increasing their overall GPAs and adhering to our Academic Progress Policy. They have done a remarkable job of rising up to the challenge of being better in all facets and I cannot be more proud of what they have accomplished this past year,” he added.
New Men's Basketball Coach Named
Last week, the college announced the hiring of Geoff Hensley as the head men's basketball coach.
Over the past four seasons as the head coach at Thomas College, in Waterville, Maine, his teams compiled a 55-52 record and made four trips to the North Atlantic Conference playoffs, as well as a 2017 appearance in the conference championship game. He coached five all-NAC selections during his tenure and his teams were 41-31 in conference play.
“Geoff’s passion, energy and dedication that he displayed during the interview process was very infectious and quickly moved him to the top of a strong candidate pool, following a national search,” Vandevere said. “We truly believe that we found the right person to help our students become better athletes and better men.”
Prior to Thomas College, Hensley was an assistant coach at Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky, from 2012-14, and Springfield College, in Springfield, Massachusetts, from 2010-12. At Centre, he helped guide the team to two tournament championships and a pair of berths in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
As a player, Hensley was a four-year starter and two-time team captain at Norwich University, in Northfield, Vermont, where he was a three-time All-Conference First Team selection and the conference Rookie of the Year in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
“Penn College’s mission, education and values create a unique experience that separates itself from all other colleges,” Hensley said. “Penn College is a world-class academic institution, and partnered with the strong leadership in athletics, together we can create a first-class basketball program. There is an exciting buzz around Penn College and Wildcat athletics, and I am grateful to take the helm of the men’s basketball program.”
Following his graduation from Norwich, Hensley spent four years as an active-duty U.S. Navy officer.
Search Underway for Women’s Soccer Coach
With the departure of Penn College head women’s soccer coach John McNichol, who recently resigned his position to accept the women’s head coaching position at Wilkes University, a national search is underway to fill the position.
McNichol, who lives in Wilkes-Barre, was named the college’s first full-time women’s soccer in 2014. In four season, he compiled a 33-38-10 mark and three North Eastern Athletic Conference playoff appearances. His team hosted the first-ever NEAC playoff game at Penn College in 2016 and finished runner-up in 2017.
“I’m very appreciative of John for the amazing job he did for our women’s soccer team for the past four years,” Vandevere said. “He made that program one of our premier sports and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
McNichol coached 16 All-NEAC selections, two players who broke the program’s all-time scoring record, and his team routinely maintained the highest GPA of any team at Penn College.
For more about NEAC, visit the conference website.
For more information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.