The Mercyhurst wrestling team had an outstanding season last year, finishing 18-1 overall and 7-0 in the PSAC. They continued their success through the season earning fourth place out of 48 in the NCAA National Championship.
The team is determined to go as far this season as well putting in their best efforts during the preseason.
“We had a groundbreaking performance last year. The kids have put in a lot of work in the off season and so far in the preseason. We finished fourth at Nationals, so this year our goal is to win it all. The guys are working hard to put us in the same position for this year,” Head Coach Mike Wehler said.
The wrestling team is starting the season ranked fourth in the country, according to the preseason Division II poll. There are also eight wrestlers ranked in the top eight in country in their respective weight classes. These wrestlers include redshirt juniors Willie Bohince, Dylan D’Urso and Francis Mizia, redshirt seniors Jeremy Landowski, Angelo Bortoluzzi and August Mizia and juniors Dakota DesLauriers and Andrew Welton.
“Last year, confidence was big for us because in the previous years we had never had two all-Americans place in the same year. So it feels good that as a team, we can perform at a higher level instead of having only two wrestlers place,” D’Urso said.
The Lakers had six all- Americans last year and hope to have more members placed on the podium to be recognized this season.
“Everybody trains each day to make each other better. It is a good thing. Everybody is competitive and everybody wants to see everybody to do good. Hopefully, we can heighten the ante and get in that position of success,” Bohince said.
The wrestlers are recognized not only for their performances on the mat, but also for their accomplishments off the mat.
Mercyhurst had four sports honored by the PSAC for having the highest grade point average in their sports. Mercyhurst wrestling was among these teams.
“When you are in season, you focus on two things: wrestling and school. Wrestling cuts out distractions so it is much easier to plan your workouts around your classes and then plan your homework around your workouts so we have a structured day. It’s not that difficult to balance things out,” D’Urso said.
The wrestlers understand the dynamics of being a student athlete and putting in the time and effort to be successful in both.
“We have study hall together as a team, we have quiet hours the guys can get work done and make sure we stay focused. Our coach’s main focus is that we get a job after college, so it’s very important to stay diligent with our studies,” Bohince said.
The wrestling team also gets involved in the community to volunteer their time.
“We volunteer at the heart walk where they have designated little kids to be recognized each year. This year they had a 2-year-old boy who has gone through a couple of heart surgeries. He came to [Mercyhurst’s] homecoming and walked on the field with us when we got recognized as a team. This year we are trying to get him to at least one of our matches,” Wehler said.
This team is not all about the wrestling program, even though wrestling is the main focal point. Having good chemistry on and off the mat is crucial.
“Whenever you have a team, your team chemistry is important. We have a tight team and they get along great, so that’s why they are successful,” Wehler said.
Coach Wehler was named the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year last season.
The team’s first match is set for Saturday, Nov. 14, at the University of Mount Union Invitational.