It was a very eventful last few weeks for the Gannon University wrestling team, capped by a pair of dual meet victories over Seton Hill on Jan. 7 and Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday.
Saturday’s home-opening matchup against Wheeling Jesuit at the Hammermill Center came against the region’s No. 3-ranked team and featured the Knights’ stylish new mats.
Two unranked Gannon wrestlers – 141-pound John Marotto and Jake Stratton (174) — defeated regionally ranked competitors, and fifth-ranked Eric Lewandowski (157) of Gannon also claimed a win over a regionally ranked opponent to highlight the win.
Marotto edged No. 5-ranked Daniel Romero, 1-0, to improve to 8-7 overall. Marotto posted an escape in the third period for the only point of the match.
Then later at 174 pounds, Stratton pinned No. 6-ranked Reyse Wallbrown 1 minute, 6 seconds into the second period to boost his record to 14-9.
Lewandowski posted an 18-4 major decision over Greg Brusco to improve his record to 7-2 on the season. It was Lewandowski’s second straight major-decision win.
Another major win came from Gannon’s Nick Costa, who is ranked No. 4 in Super Region One at 184 pounds, as he blanked Nate Starkey, 4-0.
This was Costa’s first dual match appearance of the season due to his injuries, and the first time he had wrestled since Nov. 12.
“It was just great to be back on the mat again with my team,” Costa said. “The dual meet season is a bunch of fun and I love competing with the guys.
“That was a great team win we just had and now we are looking to rack up some more wins down the road before the individual tournaments begin.”
The dual meet win over No. 15 Seton Hill featured seven Gannon victories, including one by Carmine Ciotti, ranked No. 2 in the region and No. 12 in NCAA Division II at 133 pounds.
Ciotti’s win was the first of back-to-back pins, with Abe Guarriello notching the second one.
More team points came from different decision victories by Marotto (6-4), Lewandowski (11-2), Stratton (21-12) and Nick Budd (16-4).
On Sunday, the Knights had 14 wrestlers compete at the Mount Union Open, and freshman Faris Messai posted a sixth-place finish at 133 pounds.
Gannon spent time before winter break in Indianapolis where the team competed in the 38th annual Midwest Classic. The Knights competed against 38 other teams from 12 different states. Gannon’s top performers were Lewandowski and Guarriello, who both went 3-2.
The team went to enjoy its time off during winter break, but that did not last too long as Gannon returned to campus on Dec. 27. The Knights were very active over break, having many three-a-day practices.
In the past, the team spent a lot of those practices in the wrestling room, but this year was a little different. Trying to find a change of pace the team had pool workouts, training sessions at Lewis Fitness & Performance and many other cardio workouts in the Gannon facilities.
Next up for the Knights will be a 7 p.m. dual meet against visiting Pitt-Johnstown Saturday at the Hammermill Center. Pitt-Johnstown will enter the meet ranked No. 8 in Division II and No. 2 in Super Region One.