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The19th-ranked Wilkes University wrestling team will open their 2007-08 season on Saturday when they head to King’s College for the annual Monarch Tournament beginning at 11 a.m. at the Scandlon Gymnasium. The Colonels are coming off a season in which they fashioned a 10-9 record and finished fifth at the Metro Wrestling Conference Championships.
“I am very excited about our team this season,” commented Colonels head coach Jon Laudenslager. “We have a solid group of experienced wrestlers who are very motivated to be successful. We also have excellent team chemistry. They are challenging each other every day and have vowed to get the most out of their ability.
Leading the group of returnees is 125-pound standout Felipe Queiroz. Queiroz, a junior, is a two-time NCAA Division III qualifier and earned All-American honors as a freshman. Queiroz fashioned a 19-7 record last season and is ranked sixth his weight class in the Division III pre-season poll.
Junior Justin Barowski has also received plenty of pre-season attention. Barowski, who will move from 165 pounds to 157 pounds this season, is ranked ninth in the pre-season Division IIII poll at 157. Last season he went 21-8 overall and finished third at the conference tournament.
Wilkes has plenty of experience to go along with Queiroz and Barowski. Junior Josh Pauling returns at 133 pounds after posting a 20-17 mark last year. Junior Peter George is back at 141 pounds and had a 15-12 record as a sophomore. Erik Smith was the starter at 149 last season and returns for his junior year following a 22-12 campaign. Sophomore Frank Heffernan will move from 157 to 165 after posting a 22-13 record as a rookie.
Sophomore Josh Ballan, who had an 11-8 record last season while mainly wrestling at 184 pounds, will move to 174 pounds this season, while sophomore Colin Nagy returns at 184 as well after going 11-12 as a freshman.
“The strength of this team is its experience and overall depth,” said Laudenslager. “We are at least two deep, if not three deep, at each weight class. The guys are working hard to try and crack the starting lineup and it has created a very healthy and competitive room.”
The Colonels schedule is full of top-level competition, something that Laudenslager feels will benefit his group. “Our schedule is much more difficult this season. We want to challenge our wrestlers and feel that this schedule will do that. We are going to the East Stroudsburg Open, where mostly Division I teams will compete, and we are also wrestling a quad match with Division I schools Franklin & Marshall, Princeton and Wagner. We will once again go to the North-South Duals and compete against some of Division III’s top programs, and have added the Budd Whitehill Duals to our calendar, which also has some of the top-ranked teams in Division III.”
“Hopefully, all of the tough competition will allow us to continue to improve throughout the season. Our goal is to work our way up so that we peak in time for the conference tournament that we will host for the first time this year.”
Here is a breakdown of the Colonels by weight class:
125 Lbs.: Queiroz is a two-year starter in this weight class. Fellow junior Shaun Farnham has also gained plenty of mat time during his career. Last season Farnham had a 20-10 record and finished third at the Oneonta State Tournament.
133 Lbs.: Pauling is back for his third season on the mats for the Colonels. A pair of freshmen, Brandon Prentice and Ryan Wilson, will look to push for some time and add depth in this weight class.
141 Lbs.: George is likely to be the starter at this weight class this season. Sophomore Robert Griffith will be looking to earn some time of his own for the Colonels this year.
149 Lbs.: Probably the deepest weight class. Smith is the incumbent, although senior Adam Penberthy has moved up after wrestling at 141 last season. Penberthy was 15-8 as a junior and earned a berth in the Metro final. Sophomore Derek Brownmiller had an 11-10 mark as a freshman and finished second at the King’s Tournament, and freshman Frank O’Shea are also in the mix.
157 Lbs.: Barowski’s move from 165 to 157 should help strengthen the middle of the Colonels lineup. Senior Andrew Franko adds experience after posting a 7-9 record last year. Rookies James Histed and Adam Levine also figure to push for mat time.
165 Lbs.: Heffernan is one of three wrestlers who will look for the starting berth at 165 pounds. Sophomore Rich Clocker went 6-6 during his freshman season in the weight class, while junior Joe Henshaw had a 5-6 record at 157 pounds.
174 Lbs.: Ballan, who had his rookie season cut short due to an injury, leads the lists of candidates for the starting job at 174. Also expected to contend are sophomore Josh Lamb, who was 0-4 last year, sophomore Rich Pellegrini, who had a 1-2 record as a freshman, and rookie Travis Davis.
184 Lbs.: Nagy is the leading candidate to get the start in this weight class after enjoying a solid freshman campaign. Sophomore Devin Sassone-McHugh is also back after going 3-4 as a rookie. Freshman Chris Smith is also expected to vie for time.
197 Lbs.: Senior Joe Scala, who sat out last season, and a pair of newcomers, Zach Pizarro, who is also a member of the football team, and James Gonzalez, will battle it out for the starting berth at 197 pounds.
285 Lbs.: Five grapplers will vie for the starting position at 285. The group includes senior Rich Read, who was 0-6 last season, and sophomore Andrew Feldman, who had a 4-4 mark. Others who will figure into the mix are freshmen Tyrone Curry, Levi Stern and Jake Weinrich.