The Mercyhurst wrestling team celebrated becoming a university by knocking off their cross-town rivals, the Gannon Knights, at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center (MAC) on Jan 26.
The victory was the first win for a Mercyhurst team as a university.
The Lakers were able to build off momentum created by All-American Jordan Shields at 157 pounds, who majored Sean Floor of Gannon 9-0. After dropping two of the next three matches, the Lakers had to rely on their upper-weights to close out the match.
They didn’t disappoint.
“Our upper-weights (174 pounds to heavyweight) have been the key lately. At the beginning of the year they were struggling, but freshmen at our lower weights like Kody (Young, 133 pounds) and Lando (Jeremy Landowski, 141 pounds) have stepped up in key situations,” redshirt senior Eric Fulmer said.
The Lakers failed to get off to the start they wanted and were forced to make up ground. After a close win at 125 pounds by sophomore Ryan Bohince, the Lakers dropped two of the next three matches.
“It’s always tough when your team doesn’t get out to the start you hoped for. But we know that we have a solid line-up, and when one group is down, another group always seems to step up,” sophomore Nick Hannan said.
Over the past few years, the Lakers have struggled against the Golden Knights, having not beaten them since the 2008-09 season.
“They have had our number the past few years, but we knew that this year would be different,” Fulmer said.
After a win at 184 pounds, the Golden Knights had cut the Lakers’ lead to 14-13, but wins at 197 pounds and heavyweight would clinch a win for the Lakers. Sophomore Michael Pollard won his match over Zach Zelcs 7-4 and graduate student Fred Hale pinned Charles Lear at 2:35 in the first period.
“It’s nice to have two national qualifiers closing out your line-up. We know that we can always rely on Michael and Freddy when the match is close,” Hannan said.
The win propelled the Lakers to a weekend sweep at West Liberty University, and it appears that the win against Gannon has given the Lakers some momentum as they head into the final month of the season.
“Big wins against rivals always get you pumped up. Even though we didn’t put forth our best effort, a win is still a win, and it is important to stay positive. The wrestling season is a grind, and we know that we are going to have our ups and downs,” Hannan said.
After going 3-0 last week, the Lakers moved to 12-4 on the season.
The Lakers return to action Feb. 3 and 4 at the MAC. On Friday they will take on No. 12 Ashland Eagles at 7 p.m., and on Saturday they will meet Shippensburg at 1 p.m.