The Elizabethtown College wrestling team faced a disappointing loss to King’s College Friday, Feb. 3. The Monarchs won six of the 10 matches and had four pins for a final score of 30-16, King’s.
In the second match of the day, fifth-year senior Bryan Pflanz earned his 50th career win with a 9-4 decision in his 133-pound match, contributing three points to the Blue Jays. Sophomore Dan Smith, wrestling at 141 pounds, was the only Blue Jay to pin a Monarch. Smith won his match at 2:20, earning the Blue Jays six points. Junior Chris Kummerer followed up with a win of 8-5 in his 157-pound match, just three victories short of 50 career wins. This win by Kummerer gave the Blue Jays the lead at 12-9.
Following two victories by King’s junior Rocco Hladney, wrestling at 184 pounds, got a 14-5 major decision lead. This brought the Blue Jays within fighting distance of King’s, at 16-18.
Next up was junior Quinn Ruble, at 197 pounds. Ruble fought hard and at one point held the lead at 11-5, six points of which came from back-to-back near-falls. His opponent came back fighting with a reversal and a pin, ending the match at 4:13 and earning King’s another six points. King’s went on to take the final match with a pin at 6:50.
The Blue Jays did not perform as expected, and one of their biggest downfalls was “[Giving] up a lot of bonus points,” Smith said. This match against King’s was “a very winnable match” for the Blue Jays, Pflanz said.
Pflanz is looking to win the next two dual matches and keep improving so that he has “a good confidence booster and momentum leading into the post season.”
Head coach Eric Walker has helped the Blue Jays “focus on the areas of improvement [for] each individual,” Pflanz said. Pflanz believes that if each individual focuses on “improving their specific weaknesses, and also fine tuning their strengths,” the team could send a few wrestlers to nationals.
“Everyone is just giving everything they have at practice and it’s starting to show,” Smith said, regarding post-season preparation. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
The following day after the King’s meet, the Blue Jays sent nine wrestlers to compete in the unscored Messiah Open. This meet was an opportunity for wrestlers who do not always get a chance to compete in dual meets.
First-year Josh Paisley, despite starting off with a 14-3 major decision loss, went on to win five matches in a row. He placed third place in his 141-pound weight class. This was Paisley’s first time placing at a tournament in his career.
Paisley said the Messiah open was overall a good experience. It provided some Blue Jays with the opportunity “to compete in a high-level tournament with some good wrestlers,” he said.
Ruble finished seventh place in the meet. First-year Max Rhoden had an eighth place finish at heavyweight.
The Blue Jays have two more dual meets left before Landmark Championships. The team is up against Messiah College for their Senior Night Friday, Feb. 10, and will face off against Wilkes Universtiy Tuesday, Feb. 14.