Farenchak shines at nationals; Gannon finishes ninth



Gannon University’s Alex Farenchak finished second in the 165-pound weight class at the NCAA Division II National Championships Saturday night. The Knights finished in ninth place as a team.

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

It was an eventful weekend for the Gannon University men’s wrestling team as it had eight wrestlers compete at the 2021 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in addition to head coach Don Henry taking home the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division II coach of the year award.

The Knights finished in ninth place among 44 teams at the tournament in St. Louis.

Alex Farenchak was the star of the weekend for Gannon, finishing second at 165 pounds. He lost 7-3 to Fred Green of Colorado Mesa in the finals Saturday night.

Farenchak went down 4-1 early before tightening the score to 5-3. Green stretched the score to 6-3 and despite Farenchak’s last efforts, was able to hold on for the victory.

He is one of only four wrestlers in program history to compete in the title match, and the first since 2011.

His coach applauded Farenchak for his work ethic that got him to where he is.

“It is great to have wrestlers who set goals and work hard to achieve them,” said Henry. “Alex is a prime example of hard work putting you on the right path. Dedication and sacrifice allow for the opportunity to be great. The sky is the limit for him because he embodies all the attributes of a champion.”

Joining Farenchak as All-Americans were Jacob Dunlop, who finished eighth at 133, and Nick Young who finished sixth at 157. It is the first time since 2017 that Gannon had three All-Americans at the national championships.

Other wrestlers who competed at the national championships for Gannon were Charlie Lenox (125), Austin Hertel (141), Cameron Page (184), Joel Leise (197) and Freddie Nixon (285).

Gannon’s ninth-place finish is the third-highest in program history and best since 2010, when the team finished eighth.

Henry, who has led the men’s wrestling program for 37 years, received his coach of the year recognition Thursday. Under his leadership, the Knights sent a program-record eight wrestlers to the national championships for a second consecutive year.

Though the award celebrates his individual achievements, Henry thinks the award speaks to more than just himself.

“It is very cool to be voted national coach of the year, but it is really an acknowledgement of the success of the program, the coaching staff, wrestlers and Gannon University for supporting us throughout the season,” Henry said. “It would have been easy to pull the plug on winter sports, but our leadership knows the importance and benefits of competing for athletes. I share my award with everyone who helped in the process.”

This year’s success is nothing new for Henry, as he has coached the program to top-30 finishes 18 times in the last 21 years, and was inducted as a member of the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014.

The national championships wrapped up another impressive year for Gannon’s program under Henry, and the team’s focus will now shift to next winter, when it expects to see a normal season starting in November.

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