2009 Metropolitan Wrestling Conference Championship Recap

YORK, PA-The Wilkes University Colonels sent seven wrestlers to the championship round and came away with three individual champions as the Colonels captured the team championship of the 2009 Metropolitan Wrestling Conference Championship Tournament at the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center in York. The Colonels finished with 98 points to outdistance second place College of New Jersey by 11.5 points. The host Spartans finished third with 58.5 points

The Colonels’ head coach Jon Laudenslager was tabbed by his peers as the Metropolitan Conference Coach-of-the-Year. New York University's Corey Luce was named the Metropolitan Conference Assistant Coach-of-the-Year. Elizabethtown freshman Tyler Erdman (Herndon, Pa./Line Mountain) was named the Conference Rookie-of-the-Year after capturing the 125-pound championship. King’s College Mike Reilly (Mountaintop, Pa./Crestwood), the tournament’s 174-pound champion, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler as he defended his championship from last year.

The 125-pound championship saw Erdman square off against Wilkes senior Shaun Farnham (Baldwinsville, N.Y. /Charles W. Baker). Erdman, who is seventh in the country, defeated Farnham, who is tenth at 125, 6-3 in the championship bout to earn his first trip to the national tournament.

In the 133 pound championship featured last year’s 125-pound champion in York’s Kyle Flickinger (New Oxford, Pa./Bermudian Springs) and Wilkes Josh Paulding (Hughesville, Pa./Hughesville). Paulding, for the third time this year, handed Flickinger a 3-2 loss as he earned the bid to the national championships.

NYU sophomore Greg Martino (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) was the second straight NYU wrestler to win the 141-pound weight class after former Violet wrestler Stephen Hult won the title last year. Martino downed Wilkes freshman Anthony Dattolo (Succasunna, N.J. /Roxbury) 7-1 in the finals to earn the championship.

Wilkes senior Erik Smith (Danville, Pa./Danville) earned a return trip to the NCAA Tournament with his 4-1 victory over the College of New Jersey’s Tyler Branham (Newton, N.J. /Kittitanny) at 149-pounds. Smith earned a trip to the national championships last year as an at-large entrant.

TCNJ’s Dan DiColo (Budd Lake, N.J. /Mount Olive) earned the first of the Lions’ three championships on the day as he downed York’s John Niedrich (Freehold, N.J. /Christian Brothers Academy), an NCAA tournament participant last year, 7-3 in the 157-pound bout.

DiColo’s teammate Justin Bonitatis (Cherry Hill, N.J. /Cherry Hill East) rolled to the championship at 165 pounds as he pinned Centenary’s Matt Regan (Boonton, N.J. /Boonton) at the 2:15 mark of the match. Bonitatis improves to 35-1 with his three victories on the day as he was just one of two wrestlers to defend his 2008 title in 2009.

The 174 pound bout was packed full of action as Reilly went against York’s Brian Thomason (Wernersville, Pa./Schuylkill Valley). Thomason led 5-4 after the first period as he nearly put Reilly on his back. However, the King’s outstanding sophomore garnered six second period points to take the 10-5 lead. He then finished off Thomason with a 7-2 third period that lifted him to the major decision win. Reilly was the other wrestler to defend his 2008 championship.

TCNJ’s freshman Scott Kelley (Vineland, N.J. /Sacred Heart) earned a championship at 184 in his first Metropolitan Championships as he shutout Wilkes’ Buddy Goucer (Saylorsburg, Pa./Pleasant Valley) 4-0.

Wilkes final champion came from the 197-pound bracket as junior Zach Pizarro (Easton, Pa./Easton) edged College of New Jersey’s Ed Broderick (Manahawkin, N.J. /Southern Regional), 5-2 in the championship tilt.

Elizabethtown’s Deron Sharp (Millville, N.J. /Millville) gave the Blue Jays’ two champions as he outlasted Wilkes’ Andrew Feldman (Shavertown, Pa./Wyoming Valley West) 6-3 in the heavyweight bout to earn a trip to the national championships.

The six wild card selections for the tournament are Wilkes Farnham at 125 pounds, TCNJ’s Branham at 149, York’s Thomason and Wilkes Frank Heffernan (Slatington, Pa. /Pocono Mountain East) at 174, TCNJ’s Broderick and Hunter’s Brian Scher (Levittown, N.Y. / MacArthur) at 197. The alternates are York’s Flickinger, Centenary’s Owen Vernon (Great Meadows, N.J. /Hackettstown), and York’s Niedrich.

The 10 weight class winners plus the six wild card at-large selections will now head to the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on March 6 and 7.

Team Scores
1. Wilkes - 98
2. College of New Jersey - 86.5
3. York (Pa.) - 58.5
4. Centenary - 42.0
5. Kings - 37.5
6. Elizabethtown - 35.5
7. NYU - 31
8. Hunter - 23
9. Scranton - 4

Championship Round Results
125 Pounds: Tyler Erdman (Elizabethtown) dec. Shaun Farnham (Wilkes), 5-3
133 Pounds: Josh Pauling (Wilkes) dec. Kyle Flickinger (York), 3-2
141 Pounds: Greg Martino (NYU) dec. Anthony Dattolo (Wilkes), 6-1
149 Pounds: Erik Smith (Wilkes) dec. Tyler Branham (TCNJ), 4-1
157 Pounds: Dan DiColo (TCNJ) dec. John Niedrich (YCP), 7-3
165 Pounds: Justin Bonitatis (TCNJ) win by fall Matt Regan (Centenary), 2:15
174 Pounds: Michael Reilly (Kings) maj. dec. Brian Thomason (YCP), 17-7
184 Pounds: Scott Kelley (TCNJ) dec. Buddy Gouger (Wilkes), 4-0
197 Pounds: Zach Pizarro (Wilkes) dec. Ed Broderick (TCNJ), 5-2
285 Pounds: Deron Sharp (Elizabethtown) dec. Andrew Feldman (Wilkes), 6-3

At-Large NCAA Tournament Selections
125 Pounds: Shaun Farnham (Wilkes)
149 Pounds: Tyle Branham (TCNJ)
174 Pounds: Brian Thomason (York) and Frank Heffernan (Wilkes)
197 Pounds: Ed Broderick (TCNJ) and Brian Scher (Hunter)

First Alternate: Kyle Flickinger (York)
Second Alternate: Owen Vernon (Centenary)
Third Alternate: John Niedrich (York)

Individual Award Winners
Coach of the Year: Jon Laudenslager - Wilkes University
Assistant Coach of the Year: Corey Luce – New York University
Rookie of the Year: Tyler Erdman - Elizabethtown College
Most Outstanding Wrestler: Mike Reilly - King's College