Injuries trip up wrestling team

The Gannon University wrestling team’s streak reached four Friday night against Shippensburg University at the Hammermill Center.

And not in a good way.

The Knights, who were rendered short-handed due to a pair of injuries, dropped their fourth straight match, a 27-17 loss to the Red Raiders.

Gannon lost six of 10 bouts and sustained three falls Friday, this coming after a 33-6 thumping at the hands of No. 8 University of Pitt-Johnstown Wednesday. The Knights’ record stands at 7-5.

Coach Don Henry said the Knights’ results are not for a lack of effort for the most part.

“Probably the majority of the guys gave 100 percent, but some guys didn’t wrestle as good as they could have,” Henry said.

Gannon got off to a fast start Friday, when redshirt freshman Matt Turek opened up the match with a 25-9 technical fall win, before Shippensburg (10-9) reeled off three consecutive wins to pull away.

Sean Floor, Keith Stoerr and Kris Rahn picked up decision wins for Gannon.

Friday marked the first time senior Ethan Swope lost a dual match all season, when his 5-4 loss to Shippensburg’s Kenny Stank dropped his dual record to 10-1 while marking his first defeat to a Division II wrestler all season.

A disturbing trend that has recently plagued Gannon has been its vulnerability to falls, as Shippensburg registered three after the Knights suffered five to Pitt-Johnstown.

“In wrestling, you can’t give up pins, and we gave up three, so that really hurt our chances,” Henry said.

Gannon was without heavyweight redshirt freshmen Chaz Lear and 184/197-pound Zack Zelcs, who have both endured rotator cuff injuries.

Zelcs suffered his injury in the Knights’ Jan. 26 loss to Mercyhurst University, while Lear’s occurred against Pitt-Johnstown.

Henry said he expects Zelcs to return to the card against Lake Erie College Wednesday, while Zelcs said the injuries have put a strain on the team’s ability.

“It’s hard because we’re trying to win without some of our key guys,” Zelcs said. “We’ve gotten different lineups, so we’re not as strong as we usually are, but we should be a more complete team when we get the guys back.”

Henry said he would exercise caution with his banged up squad and would prefer to preserve them for the stretch run.

“I would’ve been willing to put Chaz in if we were up by five (against Shippensburg), but with the score as it was, I didn’t want to risk him getting re-injured,” he said. “We want to be as healthy as possible for the regionals, so if that means sitting people now, I have no problem with that.”

Henry reiterated that his main goal is for the Knights to be in a position to succeed at the NCAA Division II Super Regional One tournament Feb. 24 and 25 in Pembroke, N.C.

JOE CUNEO

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