The 27th annual Centennial Conference wrestling championship is set for Saturday in Allentown, Pa. on the campus of Muhlenberg College. Action is set to begin at 10 a.m. in Memorial Hall.
With five-time defending champion Stevens no longer a member of the conference, this year's battle for the team title figures to be the closest in recent memory. Ursinus, the last CC team to hoist the conference trophy prior to Stevens' five-year run, owns the most conference titles with 11 overall, followed by Merchant Marine (4), McDaniel (4), Johns Hopkins (1) and Muhlenberg (1).
At last year's championship, just 3.5 points separated second through fourth place. A highly-competitive dual season suggests that another close chase for the CC title is in store on Saturday. Host Muhlenberg enters the championship fresh off a perfect 6-0 mark in Centennial duals. Washington and Lee (5-1 CC) and Merchant Marine (4-2) also registered winning dual marks in CC competition this winter.
A trio of individual champions return to this year's championship event, including two-time champion Josh Glantzman from Merchant Marine. Glantzman captured the 174 title in 2018 before moving up to claim the 184 crown last winter.
Muhlenberg's Dylan Schwartz and Jimmy Fratantoni will also look to retain their individual titles this weekend. Schwartz won the 165 title in 2019 and will again compete in that weight class, while Fratantoni bumped up a weight class this year to 184 after winning at 174 last season.
Here is a preview by weight class.
125: With each of last year's top-four finishers no longer in the mix, a new 125-pound champion will be crowned in 2020. The quartet of Ursinus' Terry Adams, Johns Hopkins' Brent Lorin and Washington and Lee's Riley Parker each suffered just one loss in CC duals. Adams boasts a 23-10 overall and 3-1 CC record, while Lorin and Parker are both 21-11 overall and 5-1 in the CC.
133: Washington and Lee's Charlie Cunningham (14-4 overall) posted a 6-0 record in Centennial duals, while Merchant Marine's Caleb Kreitter (17-3 overall) went 3-0 in the conference duals in which he competed. Muhlenberg's Josh Hickey placed fourth at 133 last year, with his only CC loss this year coming by way of a 5-4 decision to Cunningham.
141: McDaniel's Ryker Eckenberger (29-3, 6-0 CC), who placed third at 133 last winter, will aim for gold after completing a perfect conference dual season. Eckenberger will face stiff competition in one of the more balanced weight classes, as returning runner-up Sean Thompson (28-14 overall) of Gettysburg, Muhlenberg's Greg Baum (17-6 overall), 2019 149-pound fourth-place finisher Bryce Crew (20-8 overall, 4-2 CC) of Washington and Lee and Ursinus' Shawn Machesano (15-6 overall) each enter Saturday's championship with strong records.
149: A pair of previous CC placewinners will compete at 149 - Gettysburg's Colin Devlin (23-4, 2-2 CC), the 2019 runner-up at 149, and Muhlenberg's Austin Sherman (16-3, 6-0 CC), the 2019 third-place finisher at 141. Sherman edged Devlin, 4-3, in the Jan. 25 dual between the Bullets and Mules. Washington and Lee's Alex Winant, Johns Hopkins' Jared Osborne and McDaniel's Ray Kable each notched three victories in CC duals and will also vie for spots on the medal stand.
157: Washington and Lee's Ryan Luth (18-2, 5-1 CC) enters as the favorite at 157 with just two losses on the year. One of Luth's losses came to McDaniel's Alex Laveck, who pinned Luth in 4:47 back on Jan. 25. Laveck enters the championship with a 20-11 overall mark and 4-2 record in CC matchups. Gettysburg's Ray Martin (23-14, 2-2 CC) and Merchant Marine's Luke Gauthier (10-8, 2-3 CC) also boast winning overall records and multiple CC dual wins this season.
165: This weight class is loaded with talented wrestlers with previous success at the CC Championship. Muhlenberg's Dylan Schwartz (22-1, 5-0 CC) is the defending champion and is ranked 10th by d3wrestle.com. Hopkins' Dominick Reyes (28-2, 6-0 CC) ran through conference competition with a perfect 6-0 CC dual mark and enters as the No. 9-ranked wrestler in the InterMat national rankings. Reyes finished second at 157 in 2019 and third at 157 in 2018. Washington and Lee's Shane Conners (17-5 overall) and Merchant Marine's Kieran Duggan (4-2 CC) also figure to be in the title hunt. Conners fell to Schwartz by a 7-6 decision in last year's title bout, while Duggan finished second at 157 in 2018.
174: Merchant Marine's Dominick Esposito (15-3, 6-0 CC) is the favorite after perfect CC dual season. Esposito is ranked 10th in the latest InterMat national rankings. Muhlenberg's Brian Jamison (20-7, 5-1 CC), Ursinus' Gary Nagle (25-15, 4-2 CC) and Johns Hopkins' Joe Paul (25-13, 3-3 CC) will look to upend Esposito for top honors at 174.
184: A defending champion will be denied a repeat title in this weight class as Merchant Marine's Josh Glantzman (20-5, 5-1 CC) and Muhlenberg's Jimmy Fratantoni (21-5, 4-2 CC) look for repeat titles. Glantzman is the lone two-time champion in the field, having won the 174 title in 2018 and the 184 crown in 2019. Fratantoni moves up a weight class after claiming gold at 174 last season. Meanwhile, Washington and Lee's Rexx Hallyburton (24-2, 6-0 CC) is likely considered the favorite after defeating both Glantzman and Fratantoni in overtime within the past few weeks. Johns Hopkins' Nathan Wertheimer (21-10, 3-3 CC) also enters the tournament with strong results this year.
197: Muhlenberg's Luca Colestock is the clear-cut favorite at 197, entering this weekend with a 28-1 overall record, 6-0 CC mark and ranked eighth in the d3wrestle.com and NWCA polls. Washington and Lee's Brad Basham (22-14, 3-3 CC) was Colestock's closest challenger during the regular season, falling by a 6-4 decision on Jan. 25. Ursinus' Jason Carter (22-10, 5-1 CC) and Merchant Marine's Andrew French (9-6, 4-2 CC) have also put together strong seasons at 197.
285: Muhlenberg's Scott Schaeffer (21-7, 6-0 CC) has compiled an impressive campaign that has included 11 pins. Ursinus' Ben Maack's (19-9, 5-1 CC) lone conference dual loss came by a 3-2 decision to Schaeffer. Washington and Lee's Clay Chadwick (20-16, 3-3 CC) finished fourth at last year's event and is a name to watch as a potential contender.