By Frank Maira
Special to Franklin County Free Press
MOORESTOWN, N.J. – Coming off a 9-win dual match season, the Penn State Mont Alto wrestling team traveled to the NCWA Mid-East Regional on Saturday March 2 in Moorestown, New Jersey.
The Nittany Lions finished the event 10th as a team and Dan Bertram(Seaford, N.Y. / Seaford), Mason Blank (Lancaster, Pa. / Lampeter-Strasburg), Bryce Palamar(Smithsburg, Md. / Williamsport), and Mitchell Krcelic (Huntington Beach, Ca. / St. Mary’s International School) each qualified for the NCWA National Championships with their respective individual performances.
Bertram wrestling at 125 pounds, had a thrilling 3-2 decision over UMBC’s Nathan Abellano and advanced up his bracket.
He fell to West Chester’s Manuel Canfijn in 50 seconds and took home fourth place after losing out to Temple’s George Marte via a 14-3 major decision.
Freshman Mason Blank (Lancaster, Pa. / Lampeter-Strasburg) had the most individual success as he nearly won the 133-pount weight class.
Blank pinned Temple’s Andy Yoon in 3:46 to reach the final against Jake Taylor of West Chester.
In a back-and-forth affair Jake Taylor gained the edge and pinned Blank in 2:12. His second-place finish improved his record to 21-18 overall and his win total is best on the team.
Fellow newcomer Bryce Palamar (Smithsburg, Md. / Williamsport) finished fourth in the 141-pound weight class to become a national qualifier.
Palamar earned the narrow 5-3 decision over Arik Nickelson and was unable to get an upper hand against West Chester’s Brett Uhrin who pinned him twice at the qualifying event.
Rounding up the National Qualifiers for the Nittany Lions was Mitchell Krcelic (Huntington Beach, Ca. / St. Mary’s International School).
Krecelic pinned Griffin O’Neil in 4:27 and lost by a technical fall to Aaron Mylan of Penn State Fayette to take fifth place in the 149-pound division.
Bertram, Blank, Palamar and Krcelic now will shift their focus to the NCWA National Championships that will be held in Allen, Texas beginning on Thursday, March 14.
Action begins at 10 a.m. each day in the three-day championship event.
FRANK MAIRA is Assistant Director of Athletics/SID, Penn State Mont Alto