It truly takes hard work, dedication and pride to be the best. Two Lock Haven University wrestlers proved that last weekend at the NCAA Division-I Wrestling Championships at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Redshirt-senior Dan Neff, who is a returning All-American at 149 pounds from last year, lost his first two matches since returning to 149 back in December. Neff was at 141 pounds to start the season. After three undefeated months, No. 15 Neff got pinned by Bucknell’s Victor Lopez and lost by decision to Eastern Michigan’s Nick Barber.
“It was a really cool experience to have my last competition at Madison Square Garden,” said Neff. “It definitely wasn’t the game plan to go 0-2, but anything can happen. I don’t think I wrestled terrible, but things happen and everybody is good. So if you screw up once, they’re going to beat you.”
Sprenkle, who is also a redshirt-senior, lost his NCAA Tournament debut to No. 8 Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska. Sprenkle then beat No. 9 Reuben Franklin of California State University in Bakersfield. Sprenkle later beat No. 10 Maxwell Huntley of Michigan by disqualification. Rider’s Ryan Wolfe ended Sprenkle’s tournament run with a 5-3 decision the next day.
Sprenkle definitely proved that the first time on the big stage is special. “Walking out in front of 18,000 people is definitely a good time,” said Sprenkle. “I didn’t feel any pressure, even though I wasn’t expected to do much. I took pressure off myself because of my conditioning and the work that I put in beforehand.”
Both Neff and Sprenkle offered some advice to the wrestlers who are on or coming into the wrestling program. “Don’t wait to accomplish your dreams,” said Neff. “It’s never too early.”
Sprenkle also had the same advice. “Don’t wait until the last minute because your senior year will be gone before you know it,” said Sprenkle.
Neff plans to attend graduate school and become a graduate assistant coach. Sprenkle plans to work with a real estate agency after graduation.
Head coach Scott Moore couldn’t be more proud of his Bald Eagle’s efforts. “I couldn’t be happier about our wrestlers accomplishments,” said Moore. “Neff going undefeated for three months and winning the Eastern Wrestling League title is enough for me. I was excited about how those guys competed.”