Last year when the Waynesburg University wrestling team traveled to the John Summa Invitational, it finished in eighth place. This year the team improved, placing fourth place thanks to strong showings from junior Dan Verhovsek in the 157-165 pound weight class and freshman Dylan Williams, (125).
Both wrestlers were able to reach the semifinals but both came up short. According to head coach Ron Headlee, the success of those two was a sign that, collectively, his team was wrestling better and improving.
“Verhovsek wrestled really well I think he did really good for us,” Headlee said. “Both made the semifinals and we were really happy with how they were wrestling.”
Verhovsek and Williams weren’t the only Jackets to finish the tournament high in the rankings. Senior heavyweight Jake Evans was able to go 5-0 on the way to a win in his wright class. That wasn’t all Evans was looking forward to wrestle.
Initially, it looked like Evans, last year’s DIII national champion, would face off with the defending Division II champion in Wheeling Jesuit redshirt senior Terrance Fanning, but an injury forced him out of the competition.
“We were hoping to get the DII two national champ [who] was there, but a medical forced him out of the tournament,” Headlee said. “But overall I thought it was pretty good and I’m proud of our guys, they pushed hard and I was happy with that.”
Many thought this meet would also be the time Evans would eclipse the NCAA all time wrestling wins’ record set by Wade Hughes in in 1985 at 174. After some research it was discovered that Evans was a few short of the record, according to Headlee. There were a few times during Evans’ freshman year his wins were doubled, now his new total is 173. Leaving Evans one away from breaking the record.
Evans will most likely reach the accomplishment Feb. 8 at Thiel during the PAC championship which Waynesburg will try to win three in a row for the first time in school history. Headlee was just happy with the results and the effort given by the team.
“I thought we got some good results from some of our guys got some confidence going into PACs and a couple guys wrestling really well their stuff was working,” he said.
Other standouts include junior, Zack Mackall, class 157, who put together three wins but fell in the quarter final. Sophomore Dillion Charlton, class 174-184, was also able to get three wins in replacement of the injured Ken Burrs.
The Jackets will travel to Thiel in hopes of their third PAC championships in three years and seventh since 2010.