Trio of Wrestlers Shine at the 86th Annual Wilkes Open

Senior Keegan Connelly finished second int he 285-pound weight class at the Wilkes Open on Sunday.
Senior Keegan Connelly finished second int he 285-pound weight class at the Wilkes Open on Sunday.



WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – A trio of wrestlers led The University of Scranton to a 15th place finish out of 34 teams on Saturday at the 86th Annual Wilkes Open, which featured some of the top programs in the region at all three NCAA levels.

The Royals totaled 22.5 points on the day as junior Keegan Connelly (Schnecksville, Pa./Allentown Central Catholic) and seniors Dan D'Agostini (Allentown, Pa./Allentown Central Catholic) and  Kevin Merle (Stroudsburg, Pa./Belvidere) combined to go 8-4 on the day.

Connelly led the Royals by going 4-1 on the day to bring home a fifth place finish at 285 pounds.  The junior opened his day with a 20-3 technical fall at the 5:40 mark against Mount Saint Vincent's Adam Krieger before dropping a 4-1 decision to Christian Colucci of Rutgers.

Connelly came back with three straight wins in the consolation bracket to claim fifth place.  He picked up a 5-1 decision over Rhode Island's Jordan Zanni before pinning Esposito Alexander of Rutgers in 4:53.  In the fifth place match, Connelly battled past Franklin & Marshall's Antonio Pelusi with a 3-1 decision.

Connelly improve to 19-6 on the season and 67-32 for his career to move into 10th place all-time in Scranton history for career wins.

D'Agostini finished sixth at 197 pounds after winning three of the four matches in which he wrestled. He opened the tournament with a 12-2 major decision over Delaware Valley's Steve Horveth before suffering just his second loss of the season by virtue of a 10-3 decision to Matt Correnti of Rutgers.

D'Agostini rebounded with a pair of wins in the consolation bracket, edging Sacred Heart's Connor Fredericks with a 3-2 decision before posting a 10-5 decision over Wilkes's Moustafa Almeky.  D'Agostini did not compete in the fifth place match.

D'Agostini now sports a 21-2 record this season and is fourth in program history in career victories with an 90-28 overall record.

After suffering a tough, 8-6 sudden victory setback in his opening match at 165 pounds to Buffalo's Noah Grover, Merle pinning Delaware Valley's Anthony Snyder in just 38 seconds in the consolation bracket.  In the following round, Sammy Cokely of Finger Lakes Prep pinned Merle at the 1:45 mark.

Merle, now 12-9 on the season and 54-45 for his career, moving into a tied for 18th in school history for career wins.  He is also sixth in Scranton history with 24 career pins.

Rutgers won the overall team championship on Saturday with 129 points on the day while Lehigh finished as the runner-up with 122 points.

Scranton returns to the mat on Tuesday, January 8 when they host Elizabethtown in a dual meet starting at 7 p.m. in the Long Center.