Redshirt seniors Adam Hluschak and Ed Ebewo will face two of the toughest brackets in the tournament as they lead East Stroudsburg University into the 2011 PSAC Wrestling Championships, which will be held Saturday at Mercyhurst.
For the first time ever, the championship bouts will be televised statewide on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Coverage will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday night, with an encore presentation scheduled forSunday at 2 p.m.
Hluschak, ranked No. 4 in Division II at 141 pounds, will take on a bracket that includes defending champion Derek Shingara of Bloomsburg and Edinboro freshman Mitchell Port, ranked No. 18 in Division I. Three other placewinners from last year are back in Hluschak (4th), Kutztown’s Mitch Voelker (6th) and Shippensburg’s Simon Rice (5th at 133).
Hluschak brings an 11-2 record into the championship and is a two-time placewinner, finishing fourth last year and fifth as a redshirt sophomore in 2009-10. He went on to earn a spot in the NCAA Division II Championships that season, finishing as the runner-up in Super Region 1, and owns a 1-1 record against Shingara, the defending champ.
Ebewo, No. 7 in Division II at 197 pounds, has three Division I foes ranked in the top 20 and two multiple-time PSAC champions in his weight class. Alex Thomas of Clarion is the two-time defending champion and is ranked No. 20 in the nation, while Edinboro’s Christopher Honeycutt is a two-time champion at 184 and is ranked No. 3 this year at 197. Bloomsburg’s Richard Perry is ranked No. 16 after handing Ebewo (6-1) his only loss of the season, a 3-1 decision, last Sunday.
Ebewo has made the semifinals the last two years before placing sixth both times. He was forced to take two medical forfeits after suffering a third-period pin against eventual runner-up Shawn Fendone of Edinboro last year, and had wins over two Division I wrestlers in 2009-10 before running into Fendone in the semifinals.
Redshirt senior Thad Frick (165) and redshirt sophomore Brendan McKeown (174) will be making their second appearances at the PSAC Championships, while the rest of the Warriors will make their championship debut.
Frick missed last year’s championship due to injury and competed at 157 in 2009-10. He is ranked No. 6 in Super Region 1 and is coming off an 8-5 decision over No. 4 Zach Lundgren of Pitt-Johnstown in Wednesday night’s dual at Koehler Fieldhouse. His bracket includes defending champion Bekzod Abdurakhmonov of Clarion, ranked No. 7 in Division I, but has just two other returning palcewinners. Frick is 2-0 against Ricky Pena of Kutztown, who placed fourth last year.
McKeown was fifth at 184 last year as a redshirt freshman, dropping decisions to the third- and fourth-place finishers. He is coming off a 6-4:sv2 decision over Travis McKillop of Pitt-Johnstown and has a 4-4 record this season. The top two finishers last year, Mike Dessino of Bloomsburg and runner-up Shane Smith of Millersville, both return at 174.
The rest of ESU’s lineup will include freshmen Chris Davis and Zach Jones at either 125 or 133, redshirt senior Andrew Ritchie at 149, redshirt sophomore Braden Turner at 157, senior James Gonzalez at 184 and redshirt junior Joe Blaes at 285.
A total of eight defending champions return across the PSAC in Nick Wilcox (Bloomsburg) at 133, Shingara (Bloomsburg) at 141, James Fleming (Clarion) at 157, Abdurakhmonov (Clarion) at 165, Dessino (Bloomsburg) at 174, Honeycutt (Edinboro, 184) and Thomas (Clarion) at 197 and Harry Turner (Lock Haven) at 285.
Clarion won last year’s championship to end a four-year run by Edinboro, but the Fighting Scots look strong again and are tied for 19th in Division I in Intermat’s rankings with four wrestlers ranked in the top 20.
Clarion is ranked No. 30 by Intermat with three ranked wrestlers, followed by No. 39 Bloomsburg with two and No. t-50 Lock Haven with one. Clarion was followed by Bloomsburg, Edinboro and Lock Haven in last year’s PSAC Championship standings.
ESU was eighth last year in the 10-team field with the conference comprised of five Division I and five Division II schools. Millersville is reclassifying to DII following the 2011-12 season and will give the PSAC six Division II members.
Ranked Division II wrestlers include Hluschak (No. 4) at 141, Ebewo (No. 7) at 197, Gannon’s Ethan Swope (No. 4) at 149, Mercyhurst’s Jordan Shields (No. 3) and Gannon’s Sam Brehn (No. 8) at 157 and Mercyhurst’s Fred Hale (No. 7) at 285. Mercyhurst is the No. 8-ranked team in Division II and Shippensburg is ranked No. 20.