Sweet 16: KU men stay hot to cap regular season
The No. 6 Kutztown University men’s basketball team closed out its regular season by clinching the outright Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East title with its 16th straight win over West Chester University, 91-85, on Saturday afternoon inside of Hollinger Field House.
This is KU’s (24-2, 20-2 PSAC) second straight outright PSAC East title and the fourth in program history.
The 16-game winning streak marks the second longest in the history of the program, while the 24 wins are the third-most in school history.
Kutztown, who receives a bye in the first round of the PSAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed, will host a Quarterfinal against the winner of fourth-seeded Bloomsburg and fifthseeded West Chester on March 1 at 7 p.m.
Ryan Connolly (Harleysville, Pa./ Souderton Area) knocked down seven 3-pointers in the victory, finishing the contest with a team-high 24 points, one shy of his seasonhigh. Not only was the redshirt-senior one 3-pointer shy of the singlegame school record, he also became the program’s all-time leader in career 3-pointers with 220.
Meanwhile, Ethan Ridgeway (West Chester, Pa./Bayard Rustin), who previously broke the school record for single-game assists with 14 just two weeks ago on Feb. 11 at Cheyney, matched his own record with yet another 14-assist performance on Saturday.
With the 14 assists, Ridgeway moved into second in program history with 434 for his career. His single-season assist total of 229 is also tied for 11th-most in PSAC history.
The Kutztown University women’s basketball team secured a first round home playoff game in the upcoming Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Tournament with a 72-59 road victory at West Chester in its final regular season contest on Feb. 25.
The Golden Bears (10-12 PSAC, 13-17) clinched the No. 3 seed in the PSAC East and will face Millersville in round one of the PSAC Tournament on Feb. 27, beginning at 7 p.m. in Keystone Arena. KU and Millersville split the 2016-17 season series with each team winning at home.
Kutztown build a gamehigh 20-point lead, 36-16, on an Alex Leader (Hummelstown, Pa./Lower Dauphin) free throw with 3:56 remaining in the first half and would lead 38-24 heading into the locker room.
Senior Jenna Altomare (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./ State College Area) ended her regular season career on a high note, notably going 6-for-9 from the 3-point range to match her seasonhigh with a game-high 23 points for the Golden Bears. Only needing three triples on the afternoon to set the program’s all-time record, she ended the contest with 195 for her career. She also moved into third all-time with 68 3-pointers this season. She was later named PSAC East Player of the Week.
Fellow senior Kelsey Watson (Collegeville, Pa./Methacton) also moved up the program annals, scoring 14 points to move into sixth place all-time with 1,298 for her career.
The Kutztown University wrestling team worked its way through the consolation brackets Saturday as five placewinners led KU to a sixth-place finish at the 2017 Super Region I Championships at Mercyhurst University, highlighted by four Golden Bears finishing in the top-four of their weight class to qualify for nationals.
It marks the ninth straight year - and 11th of the last 12 - that KU has finished in the top-six of 15 at regionals.
125-pounder Austin Petril (Clifton Heights, Pa./ Upper Darby (Ursinus)), 165-pounder T.C. Warner (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley (Bloomsburg)), 197-pounder Jeff Reimel (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn) and heavyweight Ryan Appleby (Belvidere, N.J./Belvidere) will represent Kutztown at the NCAA National Championships in Birmingham, Alabama in two weeks on March 10-11.
Reimel put together one of the biggest upsets of the 197-pound bracket and the tournament, finishing in third place as the No. 7 seed. He went 3-0 on Saturday - all in the consolation bracket - with wins by pinfall and two narrow decisions to punch his ticket to nationals and earn KU’s top finish of the day at third.
Petril, ranked 11th in Division II at 125, finished a career-best fourth at 125 for his first national berth. He won his 20th match of the season on Saturday. His only losses Saturday were to wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in Division II.
Warner finished fourth at 165 to qualify for his first national tournament at KU. He won a major decision on the day and dropped a pair of close decisions to the first- and third-ranked wrestlers in the country.
Appleby will travel to nationals for the secondstraight year after finishing in fourth at heavyweight. After falling in his first match of the day in the championship semifinal, Appleby rebounded with a 3-1 decision over D.J. Sims of Pitt-Johnstown before falling in the third-place match.
Men’s Track & Field
Anthony Bullaro (Morrisville, Pa./Pennsbury) broke his own school record in the 60m hurdles, while Steve Maine (Laurel Springs, N.J./Highland Regional) and Jared Luckanitz (Shillington, Pa./Governor Mifflin) each placed in the top-five and improved their position in the program’s record book, to help the Kutztown University men’s track and field team finish the 2017 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships in seventh place with 38 points.
Shippensburg won the team title for the seventh straight year with 143 points, holding off second place Slippery Rock by just 1.5 points.
Bullaro was .01 seconds better than his previous school record, which he set last year, as he crossed in 8.26 to place fifth and just .04 seconds off the podium.
The redshirt-junior was one of three Golden Bears to run in the final as KU earned seven points in the event, its highest of any event in the Championships. Mike Burton (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville Area) and Obi Ogbonna (Bristol, Pa./Harry S Truman) finished seventh and eight, respectively, in 9.02 and 9.45.
Maine ran the fastest 3000m in the program since Brian Harris crossed in 8:36.10 to break the school record in 1998. Previously seventh in the program annals, the junior moved into third all-time with a time of 8:37.82 to place fifth and earn Kutztown four points.
KU’s top point-earner on the day, and for the weekend, was Luckanitz, who crossed fourth in the 800m in 1:56.31 to add five points to the team’s total a day after earning four as part of the distance medley relay on Saturday. The sophomore improved his position in the program annals two positions from 10th to 8th, as he was less than a second behind the secondplace finisher.
Women’s Track & Field
McKenzie Fagan (Grove City, Pa./Grove City) won a conference championship in the high jump, and Ashley Stewart (Lake Hopatcong, N.J./Jefferson Township) broke the school record in the 400m Sunday afternoon as the Kutztown University women’s track & field team posted its best finish at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Indoor Championship since 2013, coming home sixth from Edinboro University’s Mike S. Zafirovski Sports and Recreation Dome.
One day after finishing fourth in the pentathlon with a career-best leap in the high jump, Fagan won her first career PSAC championship with another career-best jump. She cleared 5-7.25 to improve upon her second-best mark in school history. She earned KU 10 team points and is KU’s first indoor high jump champion since 2004.
Nationally, her mark moves her up to ninth in Division II as she very well could have punched her ticket to this year’s NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Ala.
Another Golden Bear also made history Sunday. Stewart earned KU five team points with a fourthplace run in the final of the 400m. Her time of 57.73 broke the school record, previously held by Monica Shellenberger from 2001.
Kutztown’s Anthony Lee elevates to the rim against the defense of West Chester’s Matt Penecale during their game last week.
Kutztown’s Josh Johnson scores a layup against West Chester last week. (Dennis Krumanocker - For Digital First Media)