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New Kensington wrestlers finish in top 25 at national championships

3/18/2013 —




Penn State New Kensington wrestlers John Dopplehauer and James Melnyk finished with 1-2 records March 16 at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association national championships in Allen, Texas.

Dopplehauer, a freshman from Penn-Trafford High School, was ranked 18th in the 285-pound division. He won his opening match, 2-1, over John Carlyle of Lindenwood (Mo.) University before dropping the next two, 3-0 and 7-3. Dopplehauer finished in the top third, 24th overall, of the 80-man heavyweight class.

Melnyk, a sophomore from Schenley High School, lost his first match in the 165-pound class, climbed up the consolation ladder with a win over Will Royster of the University of Michigan, and ended the tournament with a loss to Stephen Kemp of Lindenwood. Like Dopplehauer, Melynk’s final ranking was 24th. A 157-pounder during the regular season, Meynyk wrestled up a class at the nationals.

The New Kensington duo earned berths in the nationals with quality finishes on March 2 at the NCWA Mid-East Regional Qualifier. Both finished in the top six of the Mid-East Regional. Throughout the year, Doppelhauer was the cornerstone of the campus' third-year wrestling program. The Jeannette, Pa., native was a solid performer all year, posting a 7-4 record, and a team best four pins. Melnyk arrived at the nationals with a 4-8 mark, including three pins.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Derek Caldwell, the New Kensington Lions concluded the season with a 7-13 record in dual competition. Caldwell has helped resuscitated a program that was dormant from 1975 to 2010. Wrestling was a staple of the campus athletic program in the early 1970s.

NCWA is the largest college wrestling governing body in the United States and Canada. It is divided into nine Conferences Mid-East, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Great Plains, Southwest Great Lakes, Northwest and West Coast.The New Kensington Lions compete in the 18-member Mid-East region that includes programs from the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, University of Delaware and Lehigh University.

The campus ties to the NCWA are strong. Former Penn State New Kensington student Jim Giunta, a wrestler for the original campus program in the early '70s, is the founder and executive director of the organization.

Giunta, a 1971 graduate of Burrell High School, was a biology major at the campus. He switched to education after transferring to Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in education and a master’s degree in exercise physiology and cardiac rehabilitation. After graduation, he began teaching high school in Richardson, a North Dallas suburb, and served as the head wrestling coach there for seven years.

A resident of Dallas, he launched the Texas Interscholastic Wrestling Association in 1987 to promote wrestling in high schools. He formed the NCWA in 1997. Giunta was honored in 2004 with a lifetime achievement award by the Texas Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.


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