New day for Penn College wrestling

Published 03.05.2023

Wildcat Weekly

The Pennsylvania College of Technology wrestling program is on the verge of a new, magnificent day when freshman Isaac Cory competes at the NCAA Division III National Championships on Friday.

Cory, of Montoursville, carries a 17-2 season record into his first-round match at the 10,500-seat Berglund Center in Roanoke, Virginia, where he joins 17 other wrestlers vying for the 184-pound weight-class crown.

In all, there are 180 grapplers in 10 weight classes (18 in each weight) from across the country looking for an individual title. The complete seeded bracket will be available on Monday through the NCAA.

Wildcat wrestler Isaac Cory ...... advances to NCAA nationals after a second-place performance at Mideast Regionals.Also entered at 184 are defending champion Jaritt Shinhoster, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (29-2 record); Charles Baczek, Wabash College (20-2); Shane Leigel, Loras College (31-1); Sampson Wilkins, Castleton University (34-12); Bentley Schwanebeck-Ostermann, Augsburg University (28-6); Cameron Blizard, Washington and Lee (19-6); Jack Ryan, SUNY Oneonta (19-5); David McCullough, Coast Guard Academy (4-0); Gavin Layman, Ohio Northern University (3-1); Donovan Corn, Luther College (29-7); Mahlic Sallah, Roanoke College (27-2); Kalyn Jahn, Wisconsin-La Crosse (18-9); Colby Giroux, RIT (31-4); Edwin Morales, Bridgewater State University (17-2); Blake Williams, Adrian College (5-1); Tristan Westphal, Coe College (21-5); and Isaac Kassis, Alvernia University (4-0).

Wartburg College won the team title a year ago with 79 points.

A four-time state qualifier while he was in high school, Cory has wrestled in a big-time venue in the past, having won last year’s PIAA Class AA 189-pound championship after finishing seventh in 2020 at the Giant Center in Hershey, also a 10,500-seat arena. He closed out his high school career with a 136-36 record.

Earlier this season, Cory made program history when he became the first nationally ranked Wildcat, garnering the No. 10 spot at 184 pounds in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III rankings in mid-December.

“Isaac will enter a deep field. Four of last season’s 184-pound All-Americans return to the bracket, including last year’s 184-pound national champion. This bracket is arguably one of the toughest at the championships because of the returning talent alone,” Penn College coach Pankil Chander said.

The first-year coach continued, “The beauty of the D-III championships, from what I’ve witnessed every year, is that anything can happen. Unseeded guys make noise. Top seeds go down, and everything in between. We know that to be true based on this past weekend’s regional results alone.

“Brackets will be released next week and Isaac may not be seeded in the top eight since he missed more than half of the season and doesn’t have as much body of work as the other wrestlers on his bracket. That’s OK!

“Isaac’s style and feel is a difficult one to scout and prepare for. Though he hasn’t wrestled many of the guys in his bracket, they haven’t wrestled or felt him either, which, in my opinion, can favor Isaac.

“With his missing more than half of this season, we haven’t even seen Isaac Cory peak this season yet, which is scary considering how convincing of a talent he’s been. He’ll be ready and have fun competing when it matters most on the NCAA floor in Roanoke.”

“When I had our first team meeting with our guys when taking the helm this past summer, I talked to them about relentlessly applying a growth mindset in everything we do. That meant that we need to evolve our way of thinking and lead this program to new heights,” Chander said.

“Isaac is a bit of a force of nature when it comes to wrestling, so we’re grateful he’s on our team and leading the charge in this way,” he said. “He’s strong as a bull, he makes his opponents feel his technical brutality, and he has a high wrestling IQ. He makes smart and strategic decisions in his wrestling that’s led him to the NCAA tournament.

“He dealt with significant adversity this season – injuries, missing over 50% of our schedule, etc.; I think what truly separates Isaac apart from his competition is his propensity for loving the hard work and getting lost in it. I’m not talking about the cliché coachspeak version of ‘love the process.’ Isaac has the propensity to listen when people are honest with him and he knows how to be honest with himself about how he can develop, and he embraces the work it takes to get himself better. So when hardship confronted him this season, he invited it in as an opportunity to grow, and, man, did he blossom.

“If you talk to Isaac, he credits much of his development growing up to one of the all-time Pennsylvania greats in Chance Marsteller, a four-time PIAA state champion who was 166-0 in high school, a two-time Division I All-American at Lock Haven University and a Senior World Team Trials finalist. Isaac did a lot of training with him and it shows in the way he wrestles. Chance is a generational talent and Isaac’s wrestling style resembles his.

“Isaac is ready to make some noise out at the NCAA Championships.”

Matt Yonkin, Cory’s high school coach at Montoursville, isn’t surprised by the youngster’s success at the next level.

“He is comfortable with adversity. He handles it well. He’s always been a hard-working, dedicated kid that just grinds through whatever situation is put in front of him. I’m not surprised at all,” Yonkin said.

To be successful, Yonkin continued, “first and foremost, you need a love for the sport. We always preach to them ‘you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable,’ embracing those difficult times and at the same time appreciating the opportunity that you have to be able to compete and enjoy the sport of wrestling.

“When you add to that dedication, commitment and hard work, then everything else falls into place.”

Yonkin mentioned some intangibles that set Cory apart and make him special.

“When I look back at Isaac coming through, he was always such a role model and mentor to everybody else. One of the things I loved about him was how much he cared for his teammates and tried to make everybody around him better, knowing that in the end, it was going to make him better and also make the team better,” the coach said. “He was very selfless. I think he found a desire for the sport within himself.

“(There was) A lot of pressure and a lot of expectation put on him early and he was able to take a step back and block out everything going on around him and focus on his own love and enjoyment for the sport. That is when he found success his senior year.

“Montoursville wrestling loves that kid; we could not be more proud of him. We’re happy that he is making Penn College proud. I knew from the get-go (the college) had a champion on its hands and he’s going to carry the flag well.”

Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – NCAA Division III Championships at Roanoke, Va.

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No. 29-A