Wilkes notches East Region title behind two wins; six qualify for nationals
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- Wilkes saw two wrestlers win titles and six qualify for the NCAA Championships as the Colonels captured their first East Regional championship held at King's (Pa.)Sunday afternoon. Mark Hartenstine (149) and Kris Krawchuk (157) each earned championships at the event, while Myzar Mendoza finished second at 133, Kyle Diesel third at 174, Eric Bach third at 197 and William Fletcher third at 285.
To qualify for the NCAA tournament, a wrestler must finish in the top three of his weight class. The six qualifications is the most under head coach Jon Laudenslager and the most since the Colonels sent five wrestlers to NCAA's in 2009 when the squad won the Metropolitan Championship.
Wilkes captured its first team title at the regionals finishing with 106.5 total points, one point higher than second-place Ursinus (105.5). Delaware Valley finished third with 102.5 points.
Hartenstine, the fourth ranked wrestler in the country at 149-pounds, claimed the title with a 6-0 decision over Dylan Thorsen of TCNJ. With the win, Hartenstine moved to 35-1 overall and will make his second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament after finishing second last year at the regional event. Hartenstine cruised through the bracket pinning Brian Walsh of Scranton in the first round before a 4-0 win over Mason Goretsas of Muhlenberg. Hartenstine then faced his stiffest competition of the day in Delaware Valley's Vinny Fava in the semifinals where he pushed through with a 3-2 decision victory on his way to the championship bout.
Krawchuk showed why he is the returning national finalist at 157-pounds claiming the title with a decisive 7-3 win over Delaware Valley's Emmanuel Ajagbe in the finals. Krawchuk went technical fall, 4-2 decision, 5-4 decision to reach the finals. He will make his second straight strip to the NCAA's (finished second at the East Regional last year) looking to becoming a back-to-back All-American and a return trip to the championship bout.
Mendoza was the first Colonel to wrestle in the finals settling for second when he fell 12-5 in the championship bout to No. 5 Ryan O'Boyle. Mendoza rolled through to the finals with an 8-5, and 6-0 decision wins in the quarterfinal and semifinals. Mendoza will make his first trip to the NCAA Tournament in his final year at Wilkes.
At 174-pounds, Diesel pinned his way to the NCAA Championships using a fall in 2:27 over Ron Tassoni in the third place bout. After falling 3-2 to eventual champion No. 7 Zach Zotollo of TCNJ in the semifinals, Diesel was on a mission in the consolation bracket to secure third place. He scored a 2-0 decision over Chris Amro of NYU before the claiming the NCAA qualification via fall.
Bach became the fifth Wilkes wrestler to qualify for the NCAA's taking third at 197 with a 6-4 decision over Chris Silakoski of Scranton. Bach used two decision wins (8-2 and 4-0) before a 1:58 fall to reach the third place bout. It marked the first time Bach qualified for the championship event in his three years at Wilkes.
Fletcher concluded the six Wilkes qualifiers grabbing third place and his second straight NCAA trip with a 5-4 decision over Paul Kopczynski. He reached the third place bout with a 7-2 decision, pin (5:19) and 6-4 decision all in the consolation bracket.
Guesseppe Rea finished fifth at 125-pounds using a 9-2 win over Ursinus' Christopher Donaldson in the fifth place bout. Rea began the day with a major decision over Wayne Yuan of NYU before posting a 6-3 decision in the quarterfinals against Rob Murray. Rea dropped a 5-2 decision in the semifinals to eventual champion Paul Bewak of Johns Hopkins.
Hartenstine, Krawchuk, Mendoza, Diesel, Bach, and Fletcher will compete for a chance at All-American status March 15-16 at the NCAA Championships.