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West Liberty wrestlers fare well

BEREA, Ohio – Freshman Zane Lanham rolled to the 184-pound championship and the No. 12-ranked West Liberty University wrestling team battled its way to a third place finish here Saturday in a power-packed field at the 34th annual John Summa Memorial.

Hosted by Baldwin Wallace University inside the Yellow Jackets’ Lou Higgins Center, the tournament featured several nationally-ranked wrestlers and teams.

The Hilltoppers spent most of the afternoon locked in a three-way battle for the lead with Baldwin Wallace, No. 7 in the latest NCAA D3 rankings, and perennial small-school powerhouse Wabash (Ind.), ranked No. 4 in Division III this week.

Wabash emerged on top with 150.5 points. The Yellow Jackets finished with 142.5 points to hold off West Liberty for second place as WLU completed the day with 129.5 points. Brockport (N.Y) and Ohio Northern rounded out the top five with 97 and 64.5 points, respectively.

Lanham was one of four WLU grapplers to wrestle for championships on a day that saw 10 members of Coach Danny Irwin’s Black and Gold fight their way to a spot on the podium.

“It was a good day of wrestling for us,” Irwin said. “We improved in a number of positions and we showed the ability to execute in championship-type moments, which should boost our confidence coming down the stretch.

Corey Secrist dropped a 6-3 decision to Brockport’s Matt Caccamise in the 125-pound final. Chase Morgan came up short against Wabash’s No. 1-ranked Kyle Hatch in their 165-pound title tilt and Chase Logan battled Wabash’s Max Bishop to the wire before losing an 8-2 decision in the 285-pound championship match.

Lanham, a true freshman from Huntington, W.Va., shredded his way through the 184-pound field. After receiving a bye through the opening round, he ended his quarterfinal match with a first-period fall, blazed through the semifinals with a 17-2 technical fall and pitched an 11-0 major decision shutout against Wabash’s Dylan Schurg in the title match.

“This was a great bounce-back day for Zane,” Irwin said. “I think he got a bit of a wake-up call at the (Mountain East) conference tournament about how he needs to be the one creating action and not just settling for what’s there. He made things happen today and lit up the scoreboard!”

Irwin also commended Chase Morgan for his efforts in the 165-pound final against Hatch.

“That was a much closer match than the final score shows,” Irwin said. “Chase was going up against a guy who’s a 2-time All-American and ranked No. 1 in the nation but he accepted the challenge and wrestled very well. It was great for him to have a chance to experience what it’s going to take to succeed a few weeks from now in our regional.”

Jacob Simpson (149), Chance Morgan (174) and Ronnie D’Amico (197) all won their third-place matches while freshman Garrett Cook earned a fourth-place finish at 184.

Steven Slack won his fifth-place match at 133 while senior Chris Cook just missed making the 285-pound final an all-Hilltopper event when he dropped a narrow 5-3 decision to Wabash’s Bishop. Cook settled for a sixth place finish with a medical forfeit in his Fifth Place match.

The Hilltoppers return to the Higgins Center on Friday night for a 7 p.m. dual against Baldwin Wallace before closing out their dual meet slate at home next Sunday with a 2 p.m. dual against Seton Hill.

“That’s two pretty tough teams to wrap up the regular season against,” Irwin said. “I have a lot of respect for both programs. They will sharpen us as we make final preparations for the Super Region 3 qualifier.”

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