Clarion to host 58th annual PSAC Wrestling Championships January 26 27 Full preview included

By Rich Herman | Jan. 23, 2001, 12 a.m. (ET)
Nine PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) teams and 90 athletes will travel to Clarion this weekend searching for PSAC "Gold" at the 58th Annual Wrestling Championships. Action gets underway at 6pm Friday, January 26th at Clarion University's Waldo S. Tippin Gymnasium. Session two featuring the semifinals and two rounds of consolations are set for Saturday at 11am, with the championship finals and place matches slated for 6pm Saturday night. All-session tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students. Individual Session tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for students, except the finals where adult tickets will cost $6. Tickets will be available at the door. A championship steeped in great tradition, the 58th PSAC Championship will feature the return of 10 individual champions, 46 former PSAC Placewinners and 18 ranked NCAA Division I wrestlers. Edinboro, who has won three straight PSAC team titles entering the 2001 classic, along with Lock Haven, figure to be the pre-tournament favorites to battle for the team title. Host Clarion and Bloomsburg have outside shots at a championship. Lock Haven hosted the 2000 PSAC's and Edinboro won the team title scoring 165.5 points with Bloomsburg second at 131.5, Lock Haven third with 125 and Clarion fourth with 103.5. East Stroudsburg posted a fifth place finish with 60 points, Slippery Rock sixth with 53.5, Millersville seventh with 45.5, Shippensburg eighth at 30 and Kutztown ninth with 28 points. In 1999 Edinboro won the team title with 157.5 points, Lock Haven was second with 142, Clarion third with 120.5 and Bloomsburg fourth with 79. The Fighting Scots first win in their current run came in 1998 with 162.5 points, second place Lock Haven had 128.5 and Clarion third with 109.5. In the 1990's Clarion, Edinboro and Lock Haven won three PSAC titles each, with Bloomsburg getting one. In the history of the PSAC's Lock Haven leads with 18 team titles, Clarion and Bloomsburg have 13 each, Edinboro 5, East Stroudsburg and Millersville 2 each and Slippery Rock one. West Chester won 3 team crowns but no longer has wrestling. Edinboro is currently ranked 13th under fourth year head coach Tim Flynn. The Fighting Scots are 6-3-1 in dual meet competition, including a 1-2 record at the National Duals last weekend at Penn State. The Scots lost to Iowa (35-14) and Oklahoma (23-13) while defeating Virginia Tech (25-12). The Scots have also defeated Bloomsburg 21-12. Lock Haven, under 11th year head coach Carl Poff, is ranked as high as 16th nationally. The Bald Eagles are 16-1 in dual meet competition and riding the crest of a 16-match winning streak. Latest wins have come over Cleveland State (47-0), Pitt (31-6) and Central Michigan (24-6). Clarion, under fourth year head coach Ken Nellis, leads the Golden Eagles into the PSAC's with an 8-1 dual meet record and riding a seven match win streak. Clarion's most recent wins have come over Rider (19-15), Bloomsburg (18-17), Buffalo (25-9) and Cleveland State (37-3). Bloomsburg, led by eighth year coach Tom Martucci, enters the tournament with a 2-4 dual mark. The Huskies come to Clarion fresh off wins over Cleveland State (37-9) and West Virginia (34-7). Also looking to have quality PSAC Tournaments will be East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Millersville, Shippensburg and Slippery Rock. "Lock Haven is really wrestling well right now and they would probably be the favorite coming in," said Clarion head coach Ken Nellis. "Edinboro has an excellent team and will certainly be right there," he continued. "As far as Clarion, I like the way we're wrestling right now and we're just going to give it everything we have and see what happens. With the quality in the PSAC you can always count on a few upsets in this tournament and that can affect the team race." "Before the tournament I'd say Lock Haven is the favorite with their overall balance," said Edinboro's Tim Flynn. "I have confidence in our guys and I think we can challenge for the title if we wrestle to our capabilities." Here's a weight by weight look at the PSAC's (Ranked wrestlers with highest ranking according to either AWN or Intermat - records in parenthesis): 125: Lock Haven's #13th rated Trap McCormack (17-2) will be the favorite. He placed 4th in 2000 and 3rd in 1999. Kutztown's Brian Burzynski (16-2), ranked 5th in D-II, placed 5th in 2000 and 1999, while Bloomsburg's Brock Hite (13-3) was 6th in 2000 and could challenge. Also looking to battle will be Millersville's Omar Porrata (15-3), Clarion's Peter Derstine (9-8), Edinboro's Jacob Gray (10-13) and Slippery Rock's Adam Renner (19-11). 133: Lock Haven's Scott Bair (17-2) and Clarion's Rad Martinez (21-4) look to be the title favorites. Bair won at 134 in 1998, placed 4th at 141 in 1999 and was runner-up at 133 last year. Martinez is ranked 12th in the nation. Other challengers include Bloomsburg's Russ Witt (12-5) who was 4th in 1999 at 125, Kutztown's Kohlby O'Donnell (16-3) who was 5th at 126 in 1998, Shippensburg's Jason Zinn (12-7) was 5th in 2000, Charlie Soto of Edinboro and Kevin Rake of East Stroudsburg (10-9). 141: Lock Haven's 13th ranked Mike Maney (17-2) and Edinboro's Chad Caros (8-7) or Corey Ace (12-5) are likely finalists. Caros won the PSAC title at 133 last year, while Ace was runner-up at 141. The duo will eliminate this week. East Stroudsburg's Brad Kleckner (11-7) who was third in 2000, Slippery Rock's Tony Abbate (24-5) placed 6th in 2000 and was third at 126 in 1997 along with Shippensburg's Mark Mentzer (ranked 4th in D-II) is a three-time placewinner. Clarion's Frank Edgar (12-10) and Bloomsburg's Gary Rute will all look to place. 149: This weight will be a battle royal. Two PSAC champions and a top 10 ranked wrestler are looking to lay claim here. Lock Haven's Jamarr Billman (8-0) is ranked 9th in the country. Edinboro's #10 Ryan Shapert (15-6) won the title here in 1999 and last year's champion George Carter (15-3) of Bloomsburg is ranked 11th. Also looking to place will be Clarion's Dom Surra (15-6) who was 6th at 126 in 1998, SR's Erick Eyth (14-11), East Stroudsburg's Brad Washburn (7-5) and Shippensburg's Brett Owen (11-9). 157: Two champions return at this weight class as well with Bloomsburg's Ed Hockenberry (18-2) the 2000 winner and Edinboro's Shaun Shapert (16-6) the 1999 champion. Hockenberry is ranked 7th and Shapert 9th. The place finishes are wide open. Clarion's Shane McChesney (9-9) was second here in 1999. Lock Haven will go with either Rob Weikel (7-3) who was 3rd at 149 last year or Jason Gilligan (8-1). Kutztown's Chris Jacobs (12-3) and Shipp's Tom Mertz (12-9) will look to place. 165: This could be an important weight class in the team race since there is no clear favorite. Slippery Rock's Doug Cieleski (21-4) is ranked 15th, placed 3rd in 1999 at 157 and 4th at 157 last year. Edinboro's Yanni Diamond (13-8) is ranked 17th and was second last year to returning champion Hunter Guenot (14-5) of Bloomsburg. Also expecting to be right in the hunt will be Lock Haven's Brian Olenek (15-7) who was 2nd at 157 last year and 3rd at 157 in 1999. Millersville's Andy Cote (18-5) was 4th here in 2000 and Clarion's Pete Kroshefskie (6-11) was 6th at 157 last year and 4th at 165 in 1999. 174: The clear favorite to win his third title is Edinboro's Josh Koscheck (25-0). The D-I runner-up last year, he is currently ranked #2 in the nation. Bloomsburg's Cassidy Shults (12-4) is ranked 16th and placed 2nd here last year. Shults also was 3rd at 158 in 1998 and 4th at 158 in 1997. The battle after that is balanced between Clarion's Aaron Mitchell (15-11) who was 3rd at 184 last year, Alan Grasso (11-4) of Millersville who was 5th at 157 last year and 3rd at 142 in 1997, Slippery Rock's Adam Shawver (10-11) who was 5th at 184 in 2000 and Lock Haven's Ed Pawlak (15-6). Kutztown's Matt Mecouch (14-6) and East Stroudsburg's Dan Roy (14-11) also hope to place. 184: Maybe the most wide-open weight class is here at 184. Bloomsburg's Chad Eckert (10-5) or Kris Smith (8-4) have both placed as high as third at PSAC's in their careers and will eliminate this week. Lock