The Messiah wrestling team gathers with the banner and trophy after winning their second straight NCAA Division III Mideast Regional championship this past weekend in Hitchcock Arena. (photo by GoMessiah)

The Messiah wrestling team gathers with the banner and trophy after winning their second straight NCAA Division III Mideast Regional championship this past weekend in Hitchcock Arena. (photo by GoMessiah)

Jake English
Student Writer

This past weekend, the Messiah Wrestling Team captured their second straight NCAA Mideast Regional championship in Hitchcock Arena. The team also ended up qualifying four wrestlers for the NCAA Division III National Championship, which takes place at the Giant Center in Hershey on Mar. 13-14.

Sophomore Lucas Malmberg (125 lb.), senior Kaleb Loht (141 lb.), junior Josh Thomson (174 lb.) and freshman Ben Swarr (184 lb.) all captured individual titles in their respective weight classes, and will have the chance to represent Messiah at the National Championship.

In the first round of Regionals, the Falcons advanced eight wrestlers to the quarter finals with strong victories consisting of a pin, two technical falls, and three major decisions.

Later rounds, resulted in some outstanding victories and some heartbreaking losses, as Messiah sent four wrestlers to the finals. Thomson steamrolled his way to the finals with a pin and a technical fall, and was joined by Loht, Malmberg, and Swarr in their weight classes.

Striving to wrestle back after a loss in order to take third and qualify for Nationals, senior Chris Williamson, sophomore Larry Cannon and freshman Kyle Koser each came close but fell short. Cannon’s was the closest of all at 157 lb, where he dropped a 12-5 decision in the third place match. However, these wrestlers held key victories which later helped the Falcons in the team race.

Going into the Championship round, Messiah found themselves in second place behind Mount Union, but made a quick turnaround. Malmberg began the round by posting an 8-4 decision over Baldwin Wallace’s Jesse Gunter. Next, Loht defeated Mount Union’s Bryant Roby with a whopping score of 13-2. Thomson continued the winning streak with an 8-4 victory over Garret Chase from Baldwin Wallace. Finally, Swarr sealed Messiah’s team title with a fall over Jeff Palmeri from Brockport. The Falcons claimed overall victory over Mount Union by just a three point margin.

“Swarr’s pin was huge for the team race,” said Loht. “We couldn’t have won if not for the other contributions.”

Williamson also had a pin earlier in the tournament, and Kyle Koser won a match to place 5th in his weight class. Without these contributions and many others, the team would not have won.

With four national qualifiers, the Messiah Falcons are on the road to Hershey. However, for Thomson, Swarr, and Loht, this will be a return trip. These three previously wrestled in the Giant Center for the Pennsylvania High School State Tournament. Swarr commented that it is helpful to be going back to a place he has competed at before.

“It’s important to have the experience of wrestling in an arena,” he said. “It’s going to feel familiar and I think I’ll be more comfortable wrestling in the Giant Center than other wrestlers.”

Loht claims that he has some unfinished business at the Giant Center.

“I did not have the results I wanted the last time I wrestled in Hershey,” he said when talking about his experiences there in high school. “I never won a State Championship there, but I’m going to win a National Championship there.”

Messiah is confident and determined to have a great performance for the NCAA National Championship. The team is also encouraging students and fans to start their spring break by coming out to support them Mar. 13-14 on their road to Hershey.

One Response to “The Road to Hershey: With second straight Regional team title secured, Messiah wrestling looks to nationals” Subscribe

  1. yahdi siradj December 20, 2016 at 2:35 am #

    nice and clear, this article really helps and makes us able to understand.

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