Jackets take 5th, McGeary takes first at Messiah Petrofes Invitational

The accolades keep coming for Rocky McGeary.

With his college wrestling career a little over a month old, the freshman heavyweight has already picked up several Presidents’ Athletic Conference honors. This past weekend at the Messiah Petrofes Invitational, the freshman went a perfect 5-0 and finished first individually in the entire tournament. 

As a team, the Yellow Jackets finished fifth out of 20 schools, with Mt. Union taking the top spot, and host Messiah, Muhlenburg and Springfield finishing in front of Waynesburg. Coach Ron Headlee was pleased with how the weekend played out.

“I thought we took a step in the right direction,” Headlee said. “I thought all of our guys wrestled hard… I thought it overall was a good weekend. Rocky capping it off with a win, it was very impressive for him.”

McGeary wrestled five matches in 48 hours, and won all five of them, capping it off by beating Grant Martin of Mt. Union in just 3:12 during the finals.

The highlight of McGeary’s weekend, however, came in the preview to the finals. There, he ran into the tournament’s top seed in Southern Virginia’s Nico Ramirez, the eighth-ranked heavyweight in the country. 

McGeary beat Ramirez in the third period, 11-6. For Headlee, the conditioning of the freshman is what led to his success.

“I thought he was in better shape,” he said. “When he got to the semifinals he just wore him down, then the same thing in the finals. [Opponents] got worn down. We pride ourselves on our condition, and that kind of showed this weekend.”

Headlee is pleased with the overall conditioning of his team as well. Aside from Dan Verhovsek and Zach Baughman, who are members of the football team and have only been with the wrestling squad for a few weeks, Headlee said the rest of the Jackets are well-conditioned at this point in the season.

McGeary wasn’t the only freshman who impressed over the weekend. Fellow rookie Colby Morris made it to the quarterfinals before dropping into the consolation rounds. Jace Guy and Brandon Ntankeu also picked up multiple wins over the weekend. 

“[We have] four of them [in] our lineup, and I think they’re all going to contribute late in the season,” Headlee said. “They’ve been a big reason for our success early. They’ve been buying in. They’re not backing down from anybody.”

Waynesburg also received contributions from its older wrestlers. Vehrovsek, a senior, and sophomore Dylan Williams each won a few matches. 

Waynesburg’s next competition will be in Garden City, New York, at the Long Island Open, Sat. Dec 14. Since the competition won’t be as strong, Headlee is expecting Waynesburg to be the best team on the mat. 

“It’s not going to be as strong as it was this past weekend,” Headlee said. “Our goal is to win this tournament, I hope. That’s what we’re looking to do. We don’t know all the competition but think it’s a tournament that we can win. We’re hoping to end this semester on a win.”