Knights wrap up season at home

The Gannon University wrestling team, ranked fifth in the Super Region One, improved its overall record to 7-4 Friday with a dominating 24-12 victory over the region’s No. 8-ranked team, West Liberty University.

The Knights set the tone for the match early as they were able to obtain victories in the first five bouts, accumulating an early 17-0 lead that proved to be too steep for West Liberty to recover from.

Matt Turek, the region’s top-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds, continued his impressive winning streak with yet another decisive victory over the region’s fifth-ranked wrestler, Zach Brown. The 8-2 decision marks his 10th consecutive victory, with the last four coming against other regionally ranked wrestlers.

Turek said that he has been wrestliing more confidently during his current winning streak, and added that he’s been working tirelessly to improve upon his weaknesses.

“I try not to look and see who is ranked and who isn’t ranked because then, I will overthink the competition,” Turek said.

He said he feels that the high level of competition he has been encountering lately will be an advantage for him going into the national qualifying tournament.

“Regardless of how you do against them, you can find areas that need improved against the best kids and focus on those to turn them into strengths,” Turek said.

The 157-pound bout also showcased a pair of regionally ranked wrestlers. Gannon’s Buddy Blotzer, ranked No. 5, obtained a hard-fought 6-5 decision victory over the region’s No. 6 wrestler in Bryan Skoff.

Blotzer improved his record to 5-2 in dual meet competition. Although Blotzer was pleased with his victory against West Liberty, he said he knows that the competition will most likely get more difficult, but his focus lies on his own performance.

“I honestly do not care about who’s out there or what they’re doing,” Blotzer explained. “The only thing that matters is what I am doing and how I am wrestling.”

During the 184-pound bout, Zack Zelcs was able to rebound from his first loss of the season – against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown – with a huge 13-2 victory against West Liberty’s Danny Doyle. The redshirt junior, who is currently ranked No. 2 regionally and No. 6 nationally, improved his overall record to 10-1 for the season.

As the regular season winds down, the team has begun to shift its focus toward preparation for the National Collegiate Athletic Association regional qualifying tournament. The Knights have made some minor alterations to their training regimen in order to prepare.

“We are starting to shorten practices and concentrate on wrestling in positions where each individual is strongest and most confident,” coach Don Henry said.

Last week the team had its final wrestle-off to determine the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. When the regular season ends, it will be all about those 10 wrestlers, Henry explained.

“But those 10 will need the team to train with them to get ready,” Henry said.

The wrestling team has one more dual meet before it can focus entirely on the individual championships. The team will conclude its regular season against Lake Erie College at the Hammermill Center at 7 p.m. Friday.

Gannon intends to honor its senior members –  Blotzer, Arlen Mase, Marino Quercio and Rocco Wellek – prior to the match. The Knights look to give their seniors a proper send off with a victory in their regular season finale.

CHASE MANTINI

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