Swope earns All-America status

Not in this pueblo.

Gannon University senior wrestler Ethan Swope garnered All-America honors thanks to a sixth-place finish in the NCAA Division II National Championships hosted by Colorado State University-Pueblo.

In addition to Swope, redshirt freshman Zack Zelcs and junior Robert Blotzer failed to place in the 184- and 165-pound weight classes, respectively.

The Knights placed 27th among 42 teams at the national tournament with 8.5 points. The University of Nebraska at Kearney took home the team title with 107 points.

Swope collected a 3-3 record in the 149-pound weight class, which included three consecutive victories after dropping his first match.

“The goal going into the national tournament was to win a national title so it’s disappointing that that did not happen,” Swope said. “I was able to refocus after losing my first match and win the next few to make it to the All-American rounds.”

“Ethan was really a man on a mission,” coach Don Henry said. “Coming to Gannon, one of his goals was to become an All-American and he accomplished that.”

The fifth-year senior put together a signature performance while facing elimination against the top-ranked wrestler in Division II in double-overtime. Swope managed to take down Augustana College’s Nate Herda in double-overtime to secure a 6-4 win.

The victory made Swope an All-American.

“The match over the No. 1 guy was exciting because it’s always exciting wrestling in a situation like that,” he said. “I was the underdog in that match and I’ve never minded taking that role, because that’s when people are most dangerous.”

Swope ended his run when he fell in the fifth-place match to the University of Central Oklahoma’s Ky Corley, 8-3.

Zelcs also earned a significant win in his first match, when he defeated King College’s Brandon Tessler, 10-5, before dropping consecutive losses to Ross Brunkhardt of Nebraska-Kearney and Colorado Mesa’s Nick Peterson Friday.

Henry said Zelcs should benefit from the experience in the future.

“It was a pretty new environment for him, having to go on the road and wrestle in a place where he’s not necessarily comfortable,” Henry said. “It was a great learning experience.”

Blotzer suffered back-to-back losses after drawing matches with top-seeded Tad Merritt of St. Cloud State University and No. 6 Matt Vandermeer of Lake Erie College. He dropped the matches by scores of 7-2 and 5-1, respectively.

Henry said he thought Blotzer could have earned All-America honors if not for the matchups.

The tournament wrapped up an eventful season for the Knights.

“I really had no idea what to expect from the team because of how young we were,” he said. “We finished 10-5 and we easily could’ve been 5-10, but the guys bought into the tradition, because they didn’t know any different.

“Now they see how hard they have to work to become All-Americans, and they realize what it takes.”

Gannon will begin its offseason conditioning program before several Knights will spend the summer training in Erie, Henry said.

 

JOE CUNEO

[email protected]