WJU Wrestling Wins Will Abele Invite, Four First-Place Cardinals

January 13, 2018

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. The weather outside was tough, but the Cardinals grapplers proved tougher than the rest of the field on the Saturday mats. Despite not entering all weight classes, Wheeling Jesuit claimed the Will Abele Invitational team championship behind four first-place finishers held at Ursinius College.

With entries in only six of the 10 weight classes, WJU made the most of its grapplers by besting a 13-team field with a winning 163 points. Castleton University and Oneonta State were second (138.5) and third (125.5).

Powering the Cardinals charge were Jared Donahue (141), Connor Craig (157), Justice Avery (174) and Terrance FannIng (285) with top finishes. WJU also saw three more Daniel Romero (149), Keegan Driscoll (165) and Peyton Geary (174) as runners-up on the day.

"A real solid day for the program all around. It was the first time since Thanksgiving that our entire team competed together, which made it fun from start to finish," said WJU head coach Danny Irwin. "We saw some of our younger wrestlers make good strides in Jared Donahue, Tyler Alberts and Devan Uzelac. While individuals like Connor Craig, Justice Avery and Terrance Fanning continued their winning ways."

Continuing his dominating fashion, Craig won all four of his matches in top fashion. The 157-pound freshman went 4-0 with a 15-0 tech fall, a 1:30 fall and 17-1 tech fall to open his day. In the title match, Craig improved to 19-4 on the year by pinning Dan Vossbein of West Chester in 1:36.

At 141, Donahue rivaled Craig's production with a 5-0 afternoon via all bonus-point variety. The first-year Cardinal pinned his first two foes in 1:25 and 4:23, before he major decisioned (12-1) his quarterfinal opponent. After a fall in 1:49 in the semis, Donahue posted a 17-0 tech fall over Dean Raymond from Oneoneta State in the final match.

"I just look at every match as an opportunity to get better and prove yourself and I try to use past matches as motivation," explained Donahue. "Last week, I took second place and I used that as my motivation for this weekend. I try to focus on the next position, not the match as a whole. I trust in my coaches that they will lead me to success, so all I need to do is listen to them and give all of my effort."

In the 174-pound class, Avery continued his growth. The sophomore opened with a 11-7 decision and 12-2 major decision. Justice posted a fall in 5:48 for the semis, but he grabbed the title when teammate Geary had to bow out in a medical forfeit. Geary logged a pair of decision wins, 12-7 and 12-6, before an injury default at 2:30 in the semis pushed him to the finals.

"I am especially proud of Peyton Geary today too," noted Irwin. "He has battled injuries this season and since being back has really raised the level of our room. So for him to make his way to the finals, it has to be extremely gratifying to him!"

At 285, Fanning recorded his second first place finish in invitationals this season after he took the Washington & Jefferson Invite title back in November. After an opening bye, the redshirt junior had a pin in 2:02, a 20-1 tech fall and another fall (4:52) to qualify for the final. In the title match, Fanning major decisioned Jesse Webb of Castleton, 12-4.

"Success is about failure. A person, who is successful, has always failed and learned from that failure and moved on. This is what last weekend and today was all about as I lost last week and made a lot of failures. Today, I fixed the things I failed on previously and made more mistakes to move on and become successful by learning from the mistakes I made," said Fanning. "The team performed great today by going for extra points and falls when they could ultimately leading to a tournament victory. Each week the team builds and becomes better from the previous week. Trust the process and the process will lead you to a bright future."

In second place, Romero rattled off four-straight wins including a 15-2 major to start the day, before he lost to Grant Sorensen of Trinity (Conn.) in the 149-pound championship.

Driscoll started with a 17-2 tech fall, before he added two decisions at 165. His day finished in a tough way with a 2-0 loss to Castleton's Jared Costa.

Along with Donahue, Tyler Warner went 3-0 in his day with two falls and a major decision, before he bowed out with a medical forfeit. Tyler Alberts made a third strong wrestler in the weight class. Alberts battled back from a 6-5 opening loss for five-straight wins, including two falls. The freshman won by a 5-2 scored over Ahken Chu of Oneonta State in the third place match.

Christian Rivera, like Alberts, lost his first bout (4-1) and rallied for five wins in a row of his own. After a major and a fall, Rivera took Jacob Folk of Ursinius to double overtime before he won 5-3 for third place.

Uzelac started fast with a pair of pins and a fall and took away a 3-2 record at 285 for his outing.

The three other WJU participants Nat Brown (141), Logan Adkins (141) and Seth Bloor (285) each won at least one match.

WJU goes back to dual match action next weekend when it at Mercyhurst next Friday, Jan. 19, and at Pitt-Johnstown on Saturday, Jan. 20. Both matches start at 7 p.m.

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