Six Mercyhurst University wrestling seniors celebrated their final home match with a win against Shippensburg, 31-9. The win moved the Lakers to 13-5 on the season.
As a team, Mercyhurst is No. 10 in the country, with three wrestlers ranked nationally in their respective weight classes.
Seniors Levi Smeltzer, Pat Carter, Fred Hale, Pat Leahy, Eric Fulmer and Josh Shields were all greeted by their families prior to the match. Four of the six seniors wrestled, with three of them coming away with wins.
Smeltzer started the day with a tough 8-3 loss. Smeltzer scored early with a first period takedown but struggled to maintain enough momentum to hold on. He wrestled at the 133-pound weight class the past three years, before bumping up to 141 pounds this past year in place of injured freshman Jeremy Landowski.
“My fondest memories are traveling across the country with the team. This past year we had a chance to travel to Grand Canyon University in Arizona. I had a great time hanging out with some good friends, while being able to participate in a college sport,” Smeltzer said.
Shields and Fulmer also had strong showings. Shields was able to hold off a late push from Shippensburg’s Neal Grudi to win 6-4. Fulmer recovered from a tough loss Friday to win 7-3 over Tyler Zittle.
Hale was the last Laker to wrestle on the afternoon. Hale was coming off a big win the night before when he knocked off Jacob Southwick of Ashland, the No. 3 wrestler in the country, 9-4.
Hale carried over the momentum from the previous night making quick work of Jacob Nale, pinning him in the first period.
“The one thing I will miss most about wrestling is being with the team. I came to Mercyhurst as a football player and wasn’t sure how the other wrestlers would react to a walk-on joining the team. I was lucky enough to be blessed with great teammates,” Hale said.
Hale also talked about what it is like to wrestle in front of the home crowd fans.
“It’s a lot different playing indoors than outdoors. When we are inside the MAC (Mercyhurst Athletic Center), you hear everything, and hearing all those fans cheering you on really is a great feeling. I am definitely going to miss that feeling,” Hale said.
Although Carter did not wrestle on Saturday, he still had a few words to say relating to his Mercyhurst wrestling experience.
“My favorite part was being with my teammates. From bus trips to the practice room, there is never a dull moment, and there is always a story to tell. Overall I had some great times, and I feel lucky to have been a part of such a great program,” Carter said.
The Lakers are back in action this Friday, Feb. 10, at Findlay University. The match is set for a 7 p.m. start.