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2005-06 Preview

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The Wilkes University wrestling team will open their 2005-06 season...
on Saturday when they travel to 18th-ranked York College for a 12:00 p.m. dual match. The Colonels, under the direction of third-year head coach Jon Laudenslager, are coming off a campaign in which they fashioned a 9-8 dual match record and finished fifth at the Middle Atlantic Conference championships.

"I feel that we have really improved ourselves in almost every weight class," commented Laudenslager. "We have a lot more depth than we did last season and that has provided some excellent competition during practice. I think that each of our wrestlers has benefited from the depth."

The Colonels will rely on several outstanding veterans to provide leadership and experience. Senior Rex Harris, who missed last season due to an injury, returns to the Wilkes lineup and will take the mat at 184 pounds. Harris was a 2003 Middle Atlantic Conference champion at 174 pounds when he posted a 35-5 overall record. Harris enters this campaign with a career mark of 62-17.

Junior Brandon Kelly is back at 197 pounds after finishing second at last season’s MAC Championship. Kelly posted an overall record of 21-8 during the season. Wilkes also has experience at the heavyweight division, where junior Keith Altiery and sophomore Matt Carey will battle for time. The tandem combined to win 31 matches last season.

"Our strength and experience is in the upper weight classes,” added Laudenslager. “With Rex, Brandon, Keith and Matt we have four guys who have seen a great deal of mat time during their careers. All of our upperclassmen have provided outstanding leadership this season. With a possibility of five freshmen in the starting lineup that leadership is going to be very important for us."

"I really believe that we have an opportunity to have a very good season. The key for us is going to be our ability to continue to work hard every day. If we can do that, I feel that we can do very well at the MAC Championship and qualify more guys for the NCAA Tournament."

Here is a breakdown of the Colonels by weight class...
125 Lbs.: Wilkes will rely on three newcomers to fill the void left by the graduation of 2005 MAC champion Jeremy Mayer. The young but talented group features Felipe Quieroz, who finished third at the Florida State Championships last season, Shaun Farnham, who won the 2004 New York State title and was second at the event a year ago, and Josh Pauling, who was a Pennsylvania State qualifier at Hughesville.

133 Lbs.: One of the three freshman at 125 pounds could bump up a weight and see time at 133. Also expected to contend for time is senior Joe Yutko, who was the starter last season and fashioned a 5-17 record. Sophomore Josh Sperling, who went 1-10 last season, and freshman Kenny Nagle are also considered contenders for mat time.

141 Lbs.: Sophomore Adam Penberthy is the only wrestler in the group battling at 141 who has collegiate experience. Penberthy is a transfer from King’s College where he posted a 6-6 record at 149 pounds last season. Also seeking mat time in this weight class will be freshmen Peter George and Rocco Bucco.

149 Lbs.: Junior Michael Sciulara and freshman Erik Smith will battle it out for the starting berth at 149 pounds. Sciulara was the starter during each of the last two seasons and posted a 6-24 record a year ago. Smith, a freshman, was a sixth-place finisher at 145 pounds at the 2005 PIAA Class AA State Championships.

157 Lbs.: Two freshman will battle it out for the starting berth at 157 pounds. Justin Barowski was a New Jersey State qualifier during his high school days at Point Pleasant Beach, while Joe Henshaw was a key performer on the mats at St. Joseph’s High School in New Jersey.

165 Lbs.: Junior D.J. Giancola is one of three wrestlers who will compete for the start in this weight class. Giancola will be moving up a weight after posting a 3-14 mark at 157 last season. He will be challenged by sophomore Tom Leggio and junior Steve Franko. Leggio had a record of 8-16 at 165 last year, while Franko is in his first season with the Colonels.

174 Lbs.: Freshman Angelo Dileo and sophomore Bill Bleiler will look to secure mat time at 174 pounds. Dileo was a two-time New Jersey State place-winner while wrestling at Seton Hall Prep. Bleiler saw plenty of time on the mat for Wilkes during his freshman season and fashioned a 5-11 record.

184 Lbs.: Harris should be a strong contender for the MAC title despite moving up a weight to 184 pounds. He will be pushed for time on the mat by sophomore Joe Scala, who was 0-4 in limited time last season, and freshman Andrew Drake, who wrestled at Emmaus High School.

197 Lbs.: Kelly was not only an MAC runner-up last season, but also won the Brute-Adidas Invitational at Ursinus College. He also was the runner-up at the R.I.T. Invitational, and finished fourth at the King’s Tournament. Junior Vince Abbott, who had a 3-8 record last season, and freshman Chris Olsen are also expected to battle for mat time.

285 Lbs.: Carey and Altiery should provide Wilkes with a great deal of experience in the heavyweight class. Carey was 20-16 last season and finished third at the MAC Championship. He was also second at the King’s Tournament and third at the Brute-Adidas Invitational. Altiery had an 11-7 record before suffering a season-ending injury midway through the campaign. He earned a fourth-place finish at King’s and was fifth at the Oneonta State Red Dragon Invitational.
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