LOCK HAVEN - For the Lock Haven University wrestling team, it was a good day at Thomas Field House on Sunday for the Mat Town Open.
Sending eight wrestlers into the semifinals, the Bald Eagles won half of those battles by sending four wrestlers into the title bouts before they came out with three individual champions.
The eight wrestlers who qualified for the semifinals were Ronnie Perry (125), Cody Wheeler (133), Mac Maldarelli (149), Jake Kemerer and Aaron McKinney, both at 165, Dylan Caprio (174) Fred Garcia (184) and Phil Sprenkle (197).
Wheeler, Kemerer, Garcia and Sprenkle took one more step to the championship round where Wheeler, Kemerer and Sprenkle capped individual crowns.
Wheeler dominated his three opponents in the preliminary rounds, posting identical 7-0 decisions over Justin Seim of Army and Robert Ruiz of Frankling &?Marshall to go along with an 8-1 win over Greg McCrystal of Rutgers.
In the semis, Wheeler was paired with former Pitt wrestler Godwin Nyama-Cutler and he walked off the mat with a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
In the finals, Wheeler won his fifth bout of the day by a 2-0 score over Austin Marscio of Army for the title.
"I got tired all day, but right now it feels good," said Wheeler. "We do really good conditioning as a team and I think that showed up for me in a couple of my matches. Right now my game plan is to win the PSACs because that is always the game plan. At first making the adjustment from high school to college was a lot different, but right now I feel like I am into the college mode where I can wrestle with everyone."
As is the case sometimes in an open tournament where a school can enter multiple wrestlers in the same weight class, the Bald Eagles experienced that situation at 165 where Jake Kemerer and Aaron McKinney both made their way to the final four.
Kemerer looked strong in advancing with a fall in 1:39 over Joe Champluvier of Penn College before mauling Bucknell's Robert Schlitt for a 15-4 major decision. On the other side of the bracket McKinney nudged Anthony Risalti of Army for a 5-4 win before disposing of Ted King of Franklin & Marshall for an 8-2 win.
In the semi bout between the two Bald Eagles, Kemerer jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the middle period before cruising to a 13-3 major decision.
In the finals, Kemerer was in complete control of his match with Chandler Smith of Army for a 5-2 win and the crown.
"This was a big stepping stone for me," said Kemerer. "It felt real good because this was my first win in quite a while. I had some really good matches, I feel like I opened up a little more today and that made things click a little more for me."
Kemerer feels that his solid tournament is a good motivator for the PSAC championships.
"Coming off this big win and heading into the PSACs will be good for me," Kemerer said. "My conditioning is getting a lot better. I am starting to feel a lot healthier and I don't have injuries to hold me back so I am ready to go get it."
Sprenkle went 3-0 to earn his semifinal berth in dominant fashion. He began with a 15-0 technical fall in 5:11 over Shaun Heist of Bloomsburg, followed that with a pin in 56 seconds over Michael Failla of Penn College before bettering his fall time in his third bout with a fall in just 41 seconds over Aram Moffit of Millersville.
In the semifinals, Sprenkle used three back points in the third period to defeat Pitt's Ryan Solomon, 7-4. Solomon, a freshman, was a two-time PIAA state champion while wrestling for Milton.
In the finals, Sprenkle picked up a hard-fought 4-3 win over Tyler Lyster of Bucknell with a late takedown before time ran out.
"I am pretty happy about winning the title," said Sprenkle. "I went through a streak without winning many matches and that lowered my confidence. But coming out here today and getting a few wins and taking the title feels pretty good right now."
Sprenkle feels that the confidence he got by his performance can do nothing but help him for the rest of the season.
"Coming into a tournament and winning it is going to build my confidence, not only for the next tournament, but for the rest of the season" Sprenkle said. "It kind of changes my momentum a little bit and gets me on the right path that I need to be on as a result of getting some good wins against some good guys. I have been working hard on my technique in the room with all of the guys I drill with and it definitely paid off for me today."
Perry earned his meal ticket to the semifinals with three wins. He began with a 10-3 decision over Patrick Skinner of Rider, followed that with a 10-0 major decision over Austin Camacci of Millersville and completed his 3-0 run leading up to the semis with a 5-3 decision over Josh Patrick of Rutgers.
In the semifinals, Perry lost to eventual champion Paul Petrov of Bucknell in overtime on a very questionable fall call that might have rivaled the continuous roll-through in Olympic competition.
Maldarelli breezed into the his semifinal bout with a 14-1 major decision over Rutgers' Michael Underwood before following that with a win by fall in 2:42 over Bucknell's Matt Cuppola. He completed his three-bout streak with a 16-1 technical fall in 6:53 over Adam Smith of Clarion.
In the semifinals, Maldarelli couldn't solve the blocking tactics of T.J. Miller of Virginia and dropped a tough 3-2 decision to the Cavalier.
Caprio cruised into the semifinals with falls over Dave Fenton of Rider (5:03) and Alexander Thomas (1:34) before posting a solid 9-4 decision over Dominic Riguous of Clarion.
In his semifinal bout, the former Central Mountain standout was paired against Tyler Askey of Virginia and dropped an 8-4 decision to Askey.
Garcia was dominant in his two preliminary round victories, the redshirt junior winning bouts in technical fall fashion. His first win came over Dustin Floyd of Virginia by an 18-1 margin before he mauled Phillip Robilotto of Maryland 23-8 to advance to the semifinals.
Garcia won his semifinal bout over Matt McCutcheon of Penn State by a 2-1 count in an overtime tie-breaker before he was handled in the finals by Penn State's two-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth, 20-6.
In addition to the four finalists, other Bald Eagles who placed in the top four in their respective weight classes were Perry, third at 125; Maldarelli, fourth at 149; Elias Biddle, third at 157; Dillon Gavlock, fourth at 157; McKinney, third at 165 and Brad Emerick, third at 285.