The past week has been a roller coaster of feelings for the Gannon University wrestling team. It came with a lot of great news and matches for both the wrestlers and the Gannon campus.
The biggest news of the week – and the year so far – came with the announcement that Gannon would have its own women’s wrestling program starting with the 2018-19 winter season.
Pennsylvania has been a state teeming with wrestling talent for decades, and Gannon will be the first college in the state to field a women’s team.
The university has been looking to create a women’s wrestling program for some time now and with the direction of men’s coach Don Henry, many have already speculated about the program’s possible success.
“Adding women’s wrestling will be a tremendous asset to the university and the region,” Henry said. “It is a great thing to promote wrestling here at Gannon and nationally.
“We have great facilities in place and outstanding academic programs. We will also be pioneers as the first women’s program in Pennsylvania, which we believe will spark others to add the sport.”
Gannon is still searching for a women’s head coach and will be looking through all regions of the nation to find the right leader for the team.
Over the weekend, the men’s team would have a match of its own to take care of, and it would be one of the toughest losses the Knights have taken in some time.
With many of its starters unable to wrestle, Gannon had to travel to Pitt-Johnstown to face the 11th-ranked Mountain Cats, and the Knights absorbed a 38-3 loss. It marked the seventh straight time that Pitt-Johnstown has beaten Gannon on the mats.
The 184-pound matchup between Gannon’s Nick Costa and Pitt-Johnstown’s Jake Driscoll would be the only win for the Knights, as the 10th-ranked Costa came away with an 8-2 victory.
Several of Gannon’s individual losses were close ones. The Knights’ Jacob Dunlap fell 9-7 in overtime at 125 pounds, Carmine Ciotti of Gannon lost 3-1 in overtime at 141 and No. 7 Nick Budd dropped a 3-2 decision at 185 pounds.
Two days later, the rest of team competed in the Jamestown Jayhawk Wrestling Open. A total of 23 Gannon wrestlers were in action and seven of them placed.
This would include freshman Connor Day from Elma, N.Y., who grabbed the first-place spot at 157 pounds by beating his Gannon teammate, Evan Fisler, in the championship match.
Both wrestlers dominated their weight class with a combined five technical fall wins between them.
Other solid performances came from freshman Joel Leise, who finished second at 174 pounds and Ilyaz Veysalov, who also finished second at 184 pounds.
Also placing for Gannon were Luke Walter (fourth at 149), Louis Crawford (fourth at 174) and Freddie Nixon (third at 197).
Gannon’s “B” team took on Penn State Behrend Tuesday and won 35-19. The full squad will return to action hosting Shippensburg at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Hammermill Center.
The Raiders are 1-1 in PSAC competition and 6-6 overall while Gannon is 2-3 in conference dual meets.