The Gannon University wrestling team hit the road over the weekend, traveling south for two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference matchups, and the Knights came away with a split decision.
On Friday, Gannon won seven of 10 matches to post a huge 33-13 victory over an East Stroudsburg team that so far this season has been lacking in effort and intensity.
But on Saturday, the Knights saw a 17-9 lead over Kutztown evaporate down the stretch, and they wound up dropping a 19-17 decision to the Golden Bears.
In the victory over East Stroudsburg, a strong start from freshmen Jacob Dunlop and Austin Hertel staked the Knights to a 9-0 lead.
Later at 149 pounds, Feris Messai would take the mat and pin his opponent, Blake Cohen, early in the third period. This would be one of two pins by the Knights on the night.
The other pin came from heavyweight Nick Budd, who stopped Hunter Marhan in just under two minutes.
A big matchup came at 184 pounds, where Gannon redshirt junior Nick Costa took on Paul Rallis, who is seventh in the regional rankings.
But Rallis proved to be no match for Costa, who was ranked 10th at the time, as Costa controlled the entire matchup and posted a 15-5 major decision victory.
Other winners for Gannon against East Stroudsburg were Chris Matthews at 174 pounds and Ethan Budd at 197, both of whom won by major decision and yielded just one point between them.
The next day, the Knights would travel an hour south to Kutztown, and the outcome proved a little different.
The Golden Bears had a tough start to their season, with four of their five dual meets coming against higher-ranked opponents. The night before facing the Knights, Kutztown dropped a tough 19-18 decision to Mercyhurst.
Gannon’s Dunlop opened the meet by dropping a close 2-0 decision to Super Region One’s top-ranked wrestler, Austin Petril. Dunlop has been having a successful season with a 12-7 record and is ranked fifth in the region.
Gannon went on to win its next three matches to build a 14-3 lead. At 133 pounds, Hertel claimed a 5-2 decision win over Chris Crane, followed by Carmine Ciotti, who pinned Anthony Petril in a little over a minute in their 141-pound matchup.
At 149, Gannon’s George McGuire made it three in a row, dominating his matchup with Chad Haegle by posting a quick 17-0 technical fall victory.
Kutztown would make a late push, though, at the heavier weights, which is where both teams have been successful so far this season.
The big difference makers would come at 184, where Costa dropped an 11-3 decision to Jeff Reimel, ranked No. 3 in the region, and at heavyweight, where familiar foes would face off.
Gannon’s Nick Budd and Kutztown’s Ryan Appleby have faced each other many times over the last five years, and the competition between the two has always been extremely close.
In this dual meet, the two would do just that yet again, having a fierce matchup that would go the distance and them some with Appleby coming out on top in overtime, 3-1.
Appleby’s victory vaulted the Golden Bears from a 17-16 deficit to a 19-17 victory.
Gannon has another huge dual meet coming up Friday on the road against Pitt-Johnstown. The two teams have gone back and forth in the past and this year’s matchup between the two looks to be the same thing.
Also this weekend, other members of the team will be competing in the Jamestown Open on Sunday.