The Waynesburg University wrestling team looks to put a disappointing finish at the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championships behind them at the NCAA Division III Southeast Regional Championships this Friday and Saturday at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
The road to the D- III National tournament begins and ends for many wrestlers at regionals. For a Yellow Jacket wrestler to advance to nationals, they must finish in third place or higher. Waynesburg will be one of 20 teams competing at Messiah this weekend.
Seniors such as Dillion Charlton, Matt Lascola, Zach Mackall and Dan Verhovsek might wrestle in their final matches this weekend, something that, at least for Verhovsek, will be emotional to handle.
“It’s going to be a bittersweet feeling,” Verhovsek said. “Making it through four years wasn’t easy, but it was something I really enjoyed so if I don’t make it to nationals, I am going to miss it.”
Verhovsek, who is coming off of a PAC championship title at the 184 weight classification, believes having nothing to lose is an advantage for him.
“We talk a lot in practice about when you don’t want to be done wrestling, you have an advantage to let it all fly,” Verhovsek said. “I’m kind of in that situation. I want to be wrestling for a couple of more weeks.”
Verhovsek, the Richland wrestling product, has one goal in mind for regionals.
“I really just want to get on the podium really badly,” Verhovsek said. “I’ve never done it and it’s always been one of my goals since I’ve been here.”
Nationally ranked freshmen Colby Morris and Rocky McGeary also have a strong chance of advancing to nationals and making a splash.
“I’d love to get an All-American status,” McGeary said. “That would kind of relieve the pressure off of me.”
According to waynesburgsports.com, Shaun Wilson is believed to have been the only true freshman to capture All-American status in the program’s history.
Last year, Waynesburg sent Ken Burrs and Jake Evans to nationals and has sent a wrestler to the tournament every year since 2017.
In Coach Ron Headlee’s tenure at Waynesburg, he has shipped at least one wrestler to the big tournament nine times in 12 seasons.
Not every Jacket at regionals will qualify for the national tournament, but if nothing else, this weekend will be another chance for seniors to perform on the mat, possibly one last time.
“I still love it,” Verhovsek said. “I’m going to do everything I can to make it not my last week of wrestling and to try and qualify for nationals.”