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The new wrestling conference champions: Bearcats win first ever PAC wrestling championship

​By John Syms, Part-Time Staff Writer

Originally Published February 27, 2024

On Friday, Feb. 16, the Saint Vincent College (SVC) men’s wrestling team won their first ever Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) wrestling championship against Washington and Jefferson (W&J) in Washington, Pa.

Wrestling team holds the PAC trophy and banner (SOURCE: @PAC_Athletics TWITTER)

SVC has not had a wrestling team since 1975. The college previously competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for over 13 seasons. It was then announced in March 2022 that SVC would bring back men’s wrestling as a varsity sport.

​The team won the PAC title by scoring 103.5 points, outlasting the three other teams that were competing for gold.SVC had ten wrestlers that were named all-conference and three wrestlers who became individual champions.

One of those individuals, Chase Brandebura, freshman sports management major, was named the PAC Newcomer of the Year after he won the 165-pound individual title. Charlie Mesich, freshman undeclared major, would win his own wrestling title at 157 pounds by defeating an opponent from W&J 7-6, in a first-place match. The last person to win an individual title for the Bearcats was Sean Cain, freshman engineering major, who was victorious in the 125-pound bracket.

​"I could really feel our team chemistry building up throughout the year, and it finally seemed to click for us on Friday,” Cain said.

Liam Flanigan, freshman health science major, pins an opponent in a third-place match. (SOURCE: WATKINS)

​Cain is glad that his team won the PAC and that he was able to be part of the school’s first title.

“Being able to be SVC’s first PAC championship individual and team is a wonderful opportunity, and I am so grateful for all that I have been given from this team.”

Considering that this was the first season in almost 50 years for the Bearcats, Cain did not know how the 2023-24 season was going to play out. He still looks forward to what lies ahead next year.

​“At first, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but now I feel like I’ve found my groove and I’m gaining confidence by the day, and next season is going to be an even bigger season for the team and myself,” Cain said.

​Head coach of the team, Dominic Nania, was named the PAC coach of the year, as a first-year head coach for the wrestling team.

​Nania was named head coach of the wrestling team on May 24, 2022. He has over three years of collegiate coaching experience as the previous assistant wrestling coach at Seton Hill University.

​He coached the Bearcats through 12 dual meets, and the team finished the regular season with a record of 5-7 before entering the conference championship.

​On Wednesday, Jan. 17, the team lost to the preseason favorites, W&J, with a score of 20-29. That was the last loss of the season for the team, as they managed to win three straight before entering the PAC championship.

​W&J would finish in second place at the conference meet with a score of 81 points, while Waynesburg University placed third with 75.5 points and Thiel College finished last place with 69.5 points.

​The team will be competing in the NCAA Division III Southeast Regional Championship in Williamsport, Pa, at Lycoming College on March 1 and 2.

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