ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. – Chris Albright and Matt Heisey captured individual titles as the York College wrestling squad took second overall at the 2012 Metropolitan Conference Championships. The Spartans missed out on first by a mere half-point as Centenary took the team championship with 111 points to York's 110.5. Wilkes finished third with 103 points. Following the Championships, Spartan head coach Tom Kessler garnered his fourth league Coach-of-the-Year award while assistant coach Duane Bastress was honored as the Metropolitan Conference Assistant Coach-of-the-Year.
Albright, the #3 ranked wrestler at 141 in Division III, repeats as the conference champion after also securing the honor last year. The talented junior posted a 1:42 pinfall in his first bout before taking a 6-1 result in the semifinals. Facing Wilkes' Ryan Wilson in the finals, Albright closed out his title-winning run with a 6-0 decision as he now stands at 24-2 on the season. The junior makes his second trip to the NCAA National Championships, courtesy of the league's automatic bid, where last year he finished fifth overall to secure his first All-American honor.
Heisey collects his first Metro Conference championship, doing so in his senior campaign at 174 pounds. Getting into the finals by way of 5-0 and 3-2 decisions, Heisey's title match against Kings' Shane Stark proved an exciting one. Down 3-2 in the third period with less than 30 seconds remaining, the Spartan scored a two-point takedown right along the edge of the mat. Once both wrestlers exited the circle and were directed back to the middle, Heisey held a slight 4-3 margin. Needing to not allow Stark an escape point over the final 18 seconds, the senior proved successful riding out Stark to capture his first Metro championship as the Spartan fans in attendance erupted in celebration. With his triumph, Heisey, now 28-8, snags the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the first trip of his career.
Senior George Saliba put together a fine effort for the Green and White as he finished second for the Spartans and was awarded with a wild card bid to his first NCAA Tournament. Saliba, 34-4 on his senior season, captured 6-2 and 3-2 victories to reach the finals. However, in those finals Centenary's #4 J.D. Zitone halted Saliba's run to a title as he bested the Spartan 8-3. Much to Saliba's credit, following the loss to Zitone, the Spartan came back and topped Kings' Peter Dwyer in the true second-place bout, which significantly aided his efforts in receiving one of the ten available wild cards.
Fellow senior #2 Alex Martocello took third overall for the Spartans as he also garnered a wild-card bid to the National Championships. Opening up the Metros with a 21-5 technical fall, Martocello was upset in the semifinals 3-1 by #8 Mike Reilly of Kings. Forced to the consolation bracket, the senior ripped through his next two opponents with pinfalls at 38 seconds and 2:10, respectively. Martocello, sporting a 30-2 record, will now focus on his second trip to the NCAA Championships where in 2011 he became an All-American with a fourth-place finish.
Chuck Glatz and Drew Spector also took third for the Green and White at 133 and 157 pounds, respectively. In Glatz's third-place bout, he was up 1-0 late in the third but surrendered a two-point takedown to Hunter's Ryan Gerondel to fall behind 2-1. Despite the tough circumstance, Glatz fought out of Gerondel's control and scored a two-point reversal which allowed the 133-pounder to win the match 3-2. Glatz finishes the year at 20-14 while Spector closes out the season with a 16-13 mark.
Junior Chris Gugliotti conclued his outstanding season at 30-13 as eclipsed the 30-win plateau and registered fifth at 149 pounds while 125-pound freshman Joey Giaccio, 27-8, posted fifth in just his first Metro Championships. Jeffrey Goldhagen, 8-9, took sixth at 197.
Kessler secures his Coach-of-the-Year honor, the fourth in his illustrious career, as the Spartans put together a fantastic 2011-12 campaign. On the season, the Green and White posted a program-record 25-4 dual meet mark as Kessler picked up his 300th career victory with York's 20-15 triumph over Shippensburg on January 28. Bastress, the most decorated Spartan wrestler in the history of the program, picks up his first Assistant Coach-of-the-Year award after helping to guide the Spartans to their tremendous season.
Heisey, Albright, Saliba, and Martocello now prepare for the 2012 NCAA National Championship Tournament on March 9-10 at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The last time the Spartan squad sent four wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament was back in 2006 when Bastress, Jerry Bowne, Matt Chrzanowski, and Tim Bohlman made the trip. That season, Bastress won his second individual National Championship the Green and White finished as the fifth-ranked team in Division III.
PHOTO: Head Coach Tom Kessler, Matt Heisey, Chris Albright, and Assistant Coach Duane Bastress pose for a photo at the 2012 Metropolitan Conference Wrestling Championships. Courtesy of Brent Duffy - York College (Pa.) Athletic Communications Intern.