The Shippensburg University wrestling team shocked the Messiah College Falcons 24–20, using two straight pins to pull off a come from behind victory.
The night did not start well for the Raiders early on. The first match featured Lucas Malmberg and Dustin Steffenino, in which Steffenino struggled to get anything going and was down 8–3 after the first two periods of the bout. Messiah’s Malmberg countered every reversal that Steffenino threw at him, and SU found itself down 4-0 after the major decision in favor of Malmberg.
Hunter Harris of Messiah and Cole Rush of SU matched up next at the 133 weight class, where Harris came away with a pin.
Harris came out with a couple of fast takedowns and Rush never recovered. At one moment in the period, the bout had to be stopped because Rush had a severe nosebleed.
Immediately after the training staff cleaned him up, Harris was able to get another fast takedown and pinned Rush.
The Division III powerhouse Falcons took a 10–0 lead after the first two bouts.
For SU, Karl Lightner came out and beat Lee Cassell in a decision, scoring the Raiders their first three points of the match.
The fourth match was the turning point. Cody Blankenship of SU came out against Stephen Maloney of Messiah. The height advantage favored Maloney as soon as the two lined up across from each other, but height played no factor here. Blankenship played the role of aggressor immediately as the ref gave the go ahead to start the match, taking down the taller opponent with and making sure it stayed that way. Blankenship continued with the impressive takedowns and dominated with strength and quickness. The ref gave the decision to the Raiders 3–2 and now SU had momentum going into the next match down only four, by a team score of 10–6.
Mike Springer and Josh Grossnickle faced off at 157, where Springer came away with a pin. Springer redeemed the pin Messiah had earlier in the bout with one of his own. The pin gave SU a 12–10 lead.
Messiah responded with wins of their own. Adam Martz, Ryan Narber, and Hunter Fenk of SU could not keep the momentum going, losing in major decisions to their opponents. SU lost the lead and found itself down 20–12 heading into the final two matchups. The Raiders needed another turning point and they got it in the name of Evan Ramos.
Evan Ramos faced off with Victor DeFrance at the 197 weight class. The bout was close but Ramos led 2–1 after the first period. Going into the final two minutes, Ramos had the lead up to 4–1. With under 30 seconds left, Ramos was able to score another takedown and maneuvered his opponent to earn a pin. The Raiders now trailed by two, 20–18. The meet would be decided by the heavyweight bout.
That heavyweight showdown between Derek Berberick of SU and Dan Kiser of Messiah ended in spectacular fashion for the Raiders. Berberick was forceful and decisive from the start with a takedown a minute into the match. With Kiser desperately trying to get away from Berberick, Berberick was able to pin Kiser to win the bout. The Raiders stunningly battled back from a big deficit to upend Messiah, 24–20.
With the win, the Raiders improved their meet record to 4–6. SU will continue its season this weekend at Lock Haven University, when they compete at the team Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championships. The championships will begin at 10 a.m. from Thomas Fieldhouse.