News Lakers Claim Share Of District Mat Crown - Garrett College
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Campus News

February 22nd, 2022

Lakers claim share of district mat crown


Everhart, Korenoski, Hunter take titles; Chambers is Coach of the Year

Scranton, PA – Four years ago the Garrett College wrestling program didn't even exist. Now, the Lakers are Gulf Atlantic District co-champions, with all 9 district entrants qualifying for the national championship tournament.

Lakers Caleb Everhart (141 pounds), Noah Korenoski (157), and Elijah Hunter (197) each won weight-class championships Saturday as Garrett College and Camden County College tied for the team title with 144.5 points each. The Lakers erased a 12-point deficit in the team standings and took a 6-point lead into the final match of the night before Camden's top-seeded Shane Whitney pinned Randy Wildrik (Thaddeus Stevens College) in the 285-pound final to create the co-championship.

"This is a giant step for the program," said John Chambers, GC's founding coach, who was selected Gulf Atlantic District Coach of the Year. "To be in our fourth year of competition and come out of the district with multiple champions and a share of the team title is remarkable."

GC was the only team to win more than 2 weight-class titles in the district tournament, which included wrestlers from 8 states. The Lakers' performance was all the more impressive as they hadn't wrestled competitively since January 7th due to COVID-related complications.

"They've just been itching to get back on the mat," Chambers said of his squad.

Garrett College had 5 finalists, with Nathan Pelesky (125) and Navid Ighani (165) reaching their respective title matches. Trey Weinell (149), Paxton Wertz (174), and Connor Saladin (285) were third-place finishers for the Lakers, while Brandan Myers (133) took fifth place.

The second-seeded Everhart's individual title bout – where he matched up against Camden's top-seeded Jesse Keesal – played a pivotal role in the team competition. Everhart executed a reversal with 20 seconds left to break a 4-4 tie and then pinned Keesal.

"That was probably the most exciting moment of the whole tournament," said Chambers. "That kickstarted our run, helping us take the team lead down the stretch."

Everhart had reached the finals with a first-period pin of Ye Chan Kim of Bergen County College.

The second-seeded Korenoski defeated Bergen County College's top-seeded Cole Pfeufer by default in the 157-pound finals. Korenoski reached the finals with a 13-5 major decision over Union County College's Oscar Serrano.

The top-seeded Hunter notched a 9-0 major decision over Camden's Jacob Moore to set up a dramatic 197-pound final against Union County's Sebastian Lakouchevitch. Hunter used an escape with 1:39 remaining in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and held on for the 4-3 win.

Pelesky, seeded third at 125, earned a technical fall against Union's Frank Silva and a 13-1 major decision against Patrick & Henry Community College's Temonte Gray to reach the finals. Top-seeded Nick DiGiacomo of Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester defeated Pelesky, 17-8, in the title match.

Ighani, seeded second at 165, pinned Rowan's Justin Dougherty before dropping a 6-2 decision to top-seeded Ty Pfeufer of Bergen County College in the finals. After a scoreless first period, Pfeufer used a second-period escape and a subsequent takedown to build a 3-0 lead.

Ighani pulled within 3-1 with a third-period escape, but Pfeufer tacked on a takedown to take control of the title match.

Weinell, Wertz and Saladin each won a pair of matches on the way to their third-place finishes, and Myers also put up 2 wins in his fifth-place finish.

Chambers noted only 5 of last year's 27 wrestlers were back after the highly challenging 2021 COVID season. Four of the 5 – Korenoski, Weinell, Myers, and Saladin – placed in their weight classes while the fifth – Nick Kelbaugh – has been rigorously rehabbing an ACL injury all season to prepare for the 2022-23 campaign.

"They saw the vision we had for the program and stuck with it – watching them be rewarded for the decision was great to see, " said Chambers.

Chambers also credited former assistant coach Tanner Cahill and first-year assistant coach Ty Lydic for their work in developing a winning tradition.

"Tanner played a key role in helping us build the program during his time here," said Chambers. "And Ty is an excellent wrestling coach – he's been great with the guys this season."

Chambers also mentioned earlier Laker standouts – including former district champions Jordan Day and Tanner Clark, 2-time national qualifiers Davy Mundey and Austin Dyson, and academic all-American Garrett Beaulieu – for helping build the program's foundation.

"It takes a lot of people to build a program," added Chambers, who thanked his family along with GC staff "all over the campus" with supporting the Lakers.

The Lakers all move on to the NJCAA national championship tournament March 4-5 in Council Bluffs, IA.

"I'm kind of excited to see where it goes from here," said Chambers. "We do not want this to be the peak."