COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Seniors Kevin Merle (Stroudsburg, Pa./Belvidere) and Dan D'Agostini (Allentown, Pa./Allentown Central Catholic) won individual championships on Saturday to lead The University of Scranton wrestling team to a third place finish at the Will Abele Invitational hosted by Ursinus.
The Royals totaled 75 points in the 12-team competition which was won by Wheeling Jesuit, with 125.5 points. Oneonta was the runner-up after totaling 97.5 points on the day.
Merle went 4-0 at 165 pounds to win his weight class. He opened the day with his seventh pin of the season and 26th of his career at the 4:33 mark of his first match. He posted a 5-4 decision followed by a medical default to reach the championship bout. Merle claimed the title with an 8-5 decision over Penn State's Dan Ritz.
Merle now owns sole possession of fifth place in Scranton history in pins and is tied for 13th in program history with 59 career victories.
D'Agostini dominated all four of his matches at 197 pounds to win his own title. The senior pinned his first opponent in 2:13 before adding his second fall of the day just 40 seconds into his next match. In the semifinal round, D'Agostini scored a 12-1 major decision before posting a 15-0 technical fall over Wheeling Jesuit's Chase Logan in the title bout.
D'Agostini improved to 26-2 on the season and 95-28 for his career with 16 pins. He is now tied for the 12th most wins in a season, is third in career wins, and is 15th in pins in Scranton history.
Sophomore Aidan McNally (Scranton, Pa./Scranton) earned a runner-up finish at 174 pounds by going 3-1 on the day. He got off to a quick start with a pin just 22 seconds into his first match before posting a 16-0 technical fall in his second bout. McNally then used a 3-2 decision to advance to the championship match where he was defeated by Wheeling Jesuit's Connor Craig.
Scranton also received third place finishes from junior T.J. Conlon (Long Branch, N.J./Long Branch), freshman Justin Weimer (Leonardo, N.J./Middletown South), and junior Keegan Connelly (Schnecksville, Pa./Allentown Central Catholic).
Conlon went 3-1 at 157 pounds to finish third, winning three straight matches after dropping his opening bout. He recorded a pin 2:07 into his second major before winning a 13-1 major decision to advance to the third place match. In that contest, he battled to a 6-3 decision.
Weimer went 4-1 at 174 pounds to finish third, totaling a pair of pins and two decisions on the day. He began the day with a pin 6:40 into his first contest and followed up with another fall, this one at the 1:44 mark, in his second bout. After dropping his next match, Weimer bounced back with a 7-2 decision to advance to the third place tilt, which he won with a 5-2 decision.
Connelly won five of his six matches to claim third place at 285 pounds, rebounding from a setback in his first match with five consecutive victories. Connelly's opening round setback came to eventual champion Terrance Fanning of Wheeling Jesuit before the junior began his quest for third place with a pin at the 1:47 mark of his next match. He then reeled off three straight decisions, 3-2, 10-7, and 7-3, to reach the third place match. In that contest, he scored a 3-0 victory over Wheeling Jesuit's Devan Uzelak.
Connelly improved to 25-7 on the season and 73-33 for his career with his 5-1 day. He is now tied for the 15th most wins in a season in Scranton history and is now seventh in in career victories.
Freshman Matthew Murawski (Harrington Park, N.J./Northern Valley – Old Tappan) posted a pair of wins at 125 points, earning a 7-5 decision in his first match and bouncing back for a 13-2 major decision following his first setback of the day. Murawski finished fourth in his weight class.
Sophomore Kyle Shaffer (Mahwah, N.J./Mahwah) notched a pair of victories at 157 pounds by pinning his first two opponents. His first fall of the day came at the 6:30 mark of his opening contest before he pinned his second opponent 2:24 into his second match.
Junior John Sheedy (Somerset, N.J./Bishop George Ahr H.S.) won twice at 165 pounds with a pair of decisions. He won his opening match in a 6-3 decision and followed a 5-3 decision in his next bout.
Freshman Stephen Murphy (West Caldwell, N.J./James Caldwell) also picked up a pair of wins at 285, coming back from a setback in his first match use win by medical forfeit before posting a 15-11 decision in his next bout. Murphy's day came to an end with an 11-4 decision in the next round of the consolation bracket.
Scranton returns to action next Saturday at Penn Tech in Williamsport where they will take on the host Wildcats along with Bergen Community College. The tri-meet is slated to begin at 11 a.m.