One year ago, King’s and Wilkes fell just short of crowning a national champion, settling for silver medalists.
The teams will try again this weekend to claim a gold medal at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Wilkes’ Anthony Dattolo and the Monarchs’ Mike Reilly each finished as runners-up in 2012.
Sophomore 184-pounder Shane Stark, a Lake-Lehman grad, will represent the Monarchs at the event, looking to become the school’s first national champion since Dave Morgan in 2008.
Wilkes hasn’t crowned a champion since 1975. The Colonels have four chances this season. Mark Hartenstine, Kris Krawchuk, Matt Transue and Will Fletcher will participate at nationals. The five from the Wilkes-Barre colleges are joined by Delaware Valley’s Aaron Karns, a Berwick grad, as wrestlers with local ties in the event, which is being held today and tomorrow.
Stark, who was a third-place finisher at the PIAA Championships in his time at Lake-Lehman, took third at the NCAA East Regional to qualify for nationals. His only loss of the regional event came to eventual champion Brian Broderick from TCNJ. He enters the tournament with a record this season of 12-3. His lack of matches is due to his season getting a late start because of a broken arm.
Hartenstine, a 149-pounder, entering with a mark of 21-2, was runner-up at the East Regional. He joined the Colonels in December from Division I Campbell University and immediately started helping the team, winning 21 of his first 22 matches before losing in the regional final.
Like Hartenstine, Krawchuk (157 pounds, 24-2 record) was runner-up at regionals. He and Hartenstine were both wrestling at 149 until Krawchuk volunteered to bump up to 157. He’s been as hot as his teammate, winning 24 of 25 until falling at regionals.
Hartenstine and Krawchuk are seeded third and fourth, respectively, while Transue (197, 21-8) enters the event unseeded after placing third at regionals.
Fletcher (285, 17-8) is also unseeded for the national tournament after taking third at regionals. He advanced to nationals the hard way. After losing in the quarterfinals, he wrestled back to win four times in the consolations to take third and qualify.
Berwick alum Karns (197, 29-4) was state runner-up while wrestling for the Bulldogs. He claimed the East Regional championship and is the No. 3 seed for this weekend’s tourney.