The Shippensburg University wrestling team returned home Saturday after a lengthy road trip to take on Wheeling Jesuit University, West Liberty University and Long Island University Post (LIU Post).
SU came to Heiges Field House missing several key wrestlers because of various injuries. One of those missing was Evan Ramos, who is nationally ranked in the 197-pound weight class.
Saturday was Alumni Day, and many former members of the SU wrestling team came to the meet. More than 25 alumni were in attendance, including Chris Barrick and Bill Corman.
Barrick led the Raiders in pins in the ’07–’08 season with nine. Corman served as both SU’s wrestling coach and athletic director during his tenure that spanned from the 1950s to the mid-1980s.
Twenty-three of Corman’s 26 wrestling teams had winning records. Two of those teams were nationally ranked in NCAA Division I.
Unfortunately, SU was not able to channel Corman’s winning presence at the beginning of the day.
The team started off poorly, dropping its match against Wheeling Jesuit by a score of 37–4.
The Raiders then rebounded versus West Liberty (20-19) and LIU Post (26-19) to end their day.
Wheeling Jesuit is currently ranked No. 2 in Super Region I and No. 8 in Division II and cruised to victory over SU. The Raiders only won one bout during the match which came from junior Mike Springer who earned a major decision.
SU forfeited two bouts to Wheeling Jesuit because of various injuries. The Raiders also only gave up one pin in the match. The rest of its losses came by decisions, including a couple of major decisions.
SU’s next match against West Liberty had a very controversial ending. The two teams were tied, 19–19, at the end of the match, so the officials needed to look at the overall point scores to break the tie.
The Raiders had the advantage in overall points with a score of 38–33, so SU was awarded the victory.
Junior Dustin Steffenino opened the match for the Raiders and came away with a 3–1 decision to capture the early lead. Steffenino won two-of-three bouts on the day.
Springer then pinned his opponent just more than a minute into the bout to give the Raiders the advantage midway through the match.
Springer won 13-of-14 matches since the beginning of 2017. He also leads the team in pins with nine for the season. His overall record improved to 18–6 after his three wins on Saturday.
Junior Cody Blankenship also contributed to SU’s win with a major decision at the 157-pound weight class. His 13–0 victory was a large reason the Raiders secured the tiebreaker at the end of the match.
The Raiders were down 16–19 heading into the final bout of the match, so it came down to freshman Derek Berberick. Berberick recorded an 8–2 decision in his heavyweight bout, which tied the match at 19.
The officials went through two other criteria for the tiebreaker, but they had to resort to the third, which was the overall point total. The other two criteria were the number of bouts won and how many six-point victories each had (pin or forfeit).
Both teams had five victories and both had one six-point victory apiece, so the officials were forced to use the third criteria, which ultimately gave the Raiders the win.
The loss dropped West Liberty to 1–13 on the season.
SU’s final opponent of the day was LIU Post, which also had a few injuries. There were five total bouts that were forfeited, including a double forfeit. SU forfeited two bouts at 141 and 197 pounds and LIU Post forfeited two at 149 and 184 pounds. The double forfeit was at 174 pounds.
The Raiders grabbed the momentum immediately. Steffenino opened the match with a technical fall just less than five minutes into the bout.
Freshman Cole Rush dropped the following match, conceding a major decision at 133 pounds. The score was 5–4 in favor of the Raiders after the first two bouts.
The following two bouts were forfeits by both teams. Springer picked up his third win of the day with a pin victory to give SU a 17–10 lead.
Freshman Ryan Narber followed up Springer’s win with one of his own. LIU Post did not come close again.
Following forfeits from both teams, the final bout of the match did not have much weight in terms of the points. The Raiders were up 26–16, and it was now mathematically impossible for LIU Post to win.
Nevertheless, the match went on, and Berberick dropped the bout. At one point in the fight, Berberick’s opponent, James Louison, seemed to get cut at the top of his head and needed to be bandaged up before continuing.
That bout ended the day for the Raiders, who improved their overall record to 12–12.
SU will travel to the University of Pitt-Johnstown to fight the No. 11 Mountain Cats on Tuesday at 7 p.m.