The Elizabethtown College men’s wrestling team competed at the Pete Willson-Wheaton Invitational over the weekend in Wheaton, Illinois. The Blue Jays travel to compete in this tournament annually to match up with some of the top teams and wrestlers in the country.
Friday, senior Luke Fernandez earned a 9-4 victory over Ohio Northern University’s Evan Hickey in his first round matchup for his 80th career win. In his second match of the day, Fernandez defeated the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Michael Otomo, 8-3, to reach the quarterfinals.
His final bout of the night came against Baldwin Wallace University’s Tyler Maclellan, who he has faced fourth times in the last two seasons. The familiar foes battled until the final horn with Fernandez pulling out a 3-1 victory to advance to Saturday’s semifinals.
Fernandez was the only Blue Jay wrestler to compete on Saturday, but Etown had some strong performances on Friday from some of his teammates. Senior Bryan Pflanz, who entered the tournament seeded sixth at 133 lbs, earned two major decisions to reach the quarterfinals. Pflanz dropped his quarterfinal bout against nationally-ranked Ryan Weinmann of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Pflanz faced Olivet College’s Jared Brickley in a consolation match Friday evening, but suffered a 10-5 defeat to end his tournament run. Junior Rocco Hladney came out victorious in his first round match against Buena Vista University’s Lavaris Preston. Hladney pinned Preston to reach the second round, but fell 4-2 to North Central College’s Vince Pizzo and was forced into the consolation bracket. Hladney earned two wins in wrestle backs before dropping his bout against number three seed Austin Cook of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the fourth round of consolations.
Junior Phillip Torresani drew a tough matchup after receiving a first round bye at 125 lbs. Torresani faced second-ranked Zac Denny of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the second round and battled him well but ultimately dropped the decision, 5-1. Torresani fought back in the consolation bracket with a win over Heidelberg’s Mason Brainard, 8-5, but his run ended in the next round of consolations.
Junior Chris Kummerer wrestled at 157 lbs. and earned three victories in his five matches. Kummerer’s tournament began with an opening-round pin of North Central’s Cam Hayes and a 17-0 technical fall against Trine University’s Nick Miller.
Saturday, Fernandez wrestled as the lone representative for the Blue Jays and finished sixth in his weight class. His semifinal bout against seventh-seeded Devin Mahnke of the Milwaukee School of Engineering ended in a 5-2 defeat which dropped Fernandez to the consolation semifinals. There he faced fifth-seeded Drew Kasper of Otterbein University and dropped a 9-4 decision, putting him in a position to face the wrestler seeded one spot ahead of him in the national polls.
Mikey Swider of Wheaton College pushed Fernandez to overtime with the score tied at one. In overtime, Swider got the decisive takedown for a 3-1 sudden victory to claim fifth place.
The Blue Jays will take on King’s College Friday night, Feb. 3, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at 7 p.m.