After some impressive team victories, the Millersville wrestling team is changing gears. It’s time to get ready for NCAA Championships.
Their most notable win came during the East Regional Duals last Saturday in Pittsburgh.
They won their first two duals, one of which was against the eventual champion Liberty 25-21. Head Coach Todd Roberts feels this was a big confidence booster for the team.
“We gave up a forfeit and were still able to beat a talented team,” Roberts said.
They also defeated Gardner-Webb University 25-21 before falling to Campbell University 21-19. The defeat against Campbell was another loss that was a result of a forfeit at the heavyweight class.
The Marauders lose six points with every forfeit, and that is six points they cannot afford to lose against quality opponents.
“We have to have a full lineup,” Roberts said. “It is killing us right now not to have a heavyweight.”
One thing that has helped all season is the presence of redshirt freshman Shane Smith (165 lb).
Smith’s ability to get pins has made him the team’s top performer this season. Coming from a redshirt freshman, this says a lot about how talented a wrestler he is.
Roberts thinks his pinning ability is what makes him dangerous because he is never out of a match.
But it does not stop there. His speed and conditioning make him someone to watch for the remainder of his wrestling career.
“He’s still on the upswing,” Roberts said. “He is still getting better and better each week.”
Having three duals in one day means good conditioning is a must, but that has not been a problem for the team all season. That was one of the keys to their success at the East Regional Duals and has had a major impact on their success this season.
“We can push the pace of the match and make other people struggle to keep up with us,” Roberts said.
On Jan. 29, the Marauders easily took care of a short-handed York College of Pennsylvania, by a score of 35-9.
This brought their record at Pucillo Gymnasium this season to 4-1. Their record is 8-6 overall.
Millersville lost only one out of nine bouts.
The Marauders scored three falls, Smith, and sophomores Sean Reed (133 lb) and Raymond Bennett (197 lb).
Sophomores J.J. Lester (157 lb) and Mike Greck (141 lb) also won two major decisions.
York College, Roberts’ alma mater, did not have their full lineup because of injuries. The team’s coach was Roberts’ wrestling coach in junior high school and at York College.
“It’s always nice to win against them,” Roberts said.
On Feb. 4, the Marauders dropped their dual against Kutztown 28-9. Millersville’s victories came from Smith, junior Jeremy Brooks (165 lb), and senior John Andel (125 lb).
With only three team bouts left, the Marauders are now beginning to focus on qualifying for NCAA Nationals.
Their opponents to qualify will be the same wrestlers they faced in the East Regional Duals, which bodes well for the team because of their success.
Smith is a favorite to qualify, but the team hopes to have many more.
“We have to get better and hopefully we can improve enough that we can take more than just one wrestler to nationals,” Roberts said.
The Marauders next opponent is another one of Roberts’ former schools. ?Millersville faces Kutztown on Wednesday and will follow that up with a trip to Delaware Valley on Friday.