West Liberty State no match for Hammermill-happy Knights

The Gannon University wrestling team proved once that it’s still top-dog inside the Hammermill Center.

The Knights defended their home mat for the last time this season with a 28-12 victory over West Liberty State College Saturday after losing their previous contest in the ‘mill to Shippensburg University.

Gannon, which now boasts a 7-2-1 record, will hit the road Wednesday to battle Lake Erie College at 7 p.m.

In what served as a farewell for the seniors, John Fleming, Zack McKendree and Tony Petrella all earned victories in their final dual meet matches at the Hammermill.

McKendree grinded out his 103rd career win with a 6-5 decision West Liberty’s Jarrod Shaw. The redshirt senior is now fourth on Gannon’s all-time win list. McKendree, who is 27-8 this season with a 10-0 dual-meet record, is four wins shy of tying Todd Proper’s record of 107 wins.

McKendree was followed by Petrella, the nation’s No. 2 wrestler in the 174-pound weight class, who was able to earn a big win for the Knights as he defeated Matt Littleton with a 9-1 major decision.

Fleming rounded out the seniors’ succesful day by pinning his opponent Pete McAtee for the second time this season in the 133-pound match. Fleming now holds an 8-7 record.

McKendree, Petrella, Fleming and fellow redshirt senior A.J. Milanak have played pivotal roles for the Knights during their career. The quadruplets combined for more than 225 combined wins during their time at Gannon.

Although it was the seniors who sealed the deal for the Knights, it was the underclassmen who kept the team from a West Liberty takedown.

Redshirt junior Ethan Swope got Gannon off to a quick start with 5-2 decision in the 149-pound weight class. Swope is now 8-2 in dual meets this season after finishing .500 in dual meets last year.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Boyd was able to extend the Gannon advantage with a 9-4 victory. Boyd had three takedowns and near-fall points a piece.

Junior Jose Matos, who ranked No. 7 in the nation at 125 pounds, kept up his recent late-match heroics as he squeaked out a 6-4 victory with only seconds remaining in his 125-pound clash. In the Knights’ 27-7 win over Shippensburg on Feb. 5, Matos earned a takedown in the final 30 seconds to send the bout to a sudden victory overtime and he would later win the match by earning a takedown.

Matos is now 16-4 this season.

After an unsportsmanlike penalty from the West Liberty State coach and a forfeit at the 141-pound weight class, Gannon had secured its seventh win of the season and its third on the Hammermill mat.

The Knights won’t catch a break as they travel to Greensburg to take on Seton Hill University Friday before gearing up for the NCAA Division II East Regional at the Hammermill Center at the end of February.

ZACK MCDERMOTT

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