Eight Gannon wrestlers qualify for national championships



Gannon’s Lana Perez competes during the NCWWC Northeast Regional Qualifier on Saturday. Perez took home first place in the 130-pound division, Gannon’s only first-place finish on the day.

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

Gannon University finished third at Saturday’s National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships (NCWWC) Northeast Regional Qualifier, held at the Gannon Recreation and Wellness Center.

It was the first-ever regional tournament for NCAA schools in Division II women’s wrestling.

The tournament featured seven schools – Gannon, Trine, Tiffin, Adrian, Davenport, New Jersey City and Delaware Valley. The event took place on two separate mats and each wrestler was given breaks to ensure nobody would be wrestling in back-to-back matches.

As a team, Gannon finished with a score of 131.5, behind Adrian College and regional champion Tiffin University.

Individually, eight of Gannon’s 13 participating wrestlers qualified for the National Championships, which will take place March 6 at Tiffin.

Lana Perez, a 130-pound freshman, was the only Knight to take home first place on the day, defeating Tiffin’s seventh-ranked Eunique Davis, 7-2.

Perez earned all seven of her points in the second period, capping her exciting comeback in the title match.

Perez said she was pleased with the way the tournament unfolded and thought the Knights performed well.

“It went really well considering the pandemic,” Perez said after her win. “As a team, I feel like we had a lot of heart and we went out there and wrestled well. We made our coach proud.”

The seven other national qualifiers for Gannon were Leila Garrido (101), Nikoly Dos Santos (116), Caleeann Barr (123), Lindsey Beans-Polk (136), Annabelle Helm (155), Danielle Floor (170) and Amara Devericks (191).

Beans-Polk and Devericks each finished second in their respective weight classes, while Garrido, Dos Santos, Barr, Helm and Floor finished either third or fourth.

In her third year as head coach of the program, Christen Dierken brings extensive coaching experience with her and it has showed. The Knights finished with a record of 8-3 last season and had four wrestlers earn All-American honors.

After another successful tournament showing on Saturday, it is clear that this is a program on the rise. Dierken said after the tournament concluded that it was an honor to be able to host the event and added that she was pleased with her team.

“I’m very proud of our girls,” she said. “They had a couple situations where we had some losses that we weren’t expecting, but we also had some awesome, triumphant moments.

“We are really proud of not just how they performed today, but how they have overcome impossible situations time and time again.”

Dierken also complimented the university for its handling of the tournament.

“We got a lot of compliments,” Dierken said. “It was run well. We got a lot of support here from Gannon and we are obviously very appreciative of that.”

The Knights will start preparing for National Championships where their eight qualifiers will compete for a chance to become national champions.


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