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Garcia excels on Lock Haven's wrestling team

| Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Ringgold High School graduate and wrestling standout Fred Garcia is enjoying considerable success in his second season at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania.

A redshirt junior, Garcia became Lock Haven's first 184-pound wrestler in 10 years to win a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference individual championship.

At the conference meet held at Kutztown University, Garcia earned victories over Millersville's Daniel Cox (21-6), Mercyhurst's Eric Lundgren (13-4) and Bloomsburg's Andre Petroski in the finals, 4-1.

Coupled with sophomore teammate Bobby Rehm winning the125-pound title, Garcia gave Lock Haven multiple conference champions in the same year for the first time since 2005. He also became Lock Haven's 168th individual PSAC wrestling champion. The Bald Eagles finished fourth overall out of 12 teams and it marked the fourth straight year Lock Haven produced at least one individual conference champion.

Garcia also earned a strong third-place at the Brute Invitational held at Lock Haven's Nelson Field House. He suffered a loss by fall to Virginia Military Institute's Jonathan Jones but rebounded with victories over Gardner-Webb's Gray Jones (6-2) and again over Bloomsburg's Petroski, 4-3. Garcia took the bronze medal after a 9-8 decision over Old Dominion's Austin Coburn.

In a 19-15 dual meet win over Eastern Wrestling League rival West Virginia University, Garcia helped the Bald Eagles overcome a 9-3 team deficit with a 3-1 decision over the Mountaineers' Lance Bryson. An Albert Gallatin High School graduate, Bryson was ranked 23rd nationally before that match.

One week later Garcia defeated another nationally ranked opponent, Eastern Michigan University's 33rd ranked Phillip Joseph, 3-1, at the Pitt Duals. He followed that with a 9-6 decision over Davidson University's Scott Patrick as Lock Haven won both dual meets.

He won his ninth straight match with a 3-2 decision over Edinboro University's Vince Pickett on Jan. 19 and was one of just two victorious Bald Eagle wrestlers. The 35-6 setback at 16th-ranked Edinboro dropped Lock Haven to 5-3 overall in dual meet competition and ended a four-match win streak.

Garcia is 20-9 overall this season with four major decisions and two technical falls. He is ranked 29th nationally at 184 pounds by Gregg Henry's/WrestlingReport Division I rankings.

In 2011-12, Garcia went 16-9 overall with two pins and two major decision victories. He won seven of his final 10 matches, including taking first place at the Mat Town USA Open, which is contested annually at Lock Haven's Thomas Fieldhouse.

Garcia was a medical redshirt in 2010-11 at Lock Haven after recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals his senior year at Ringgold. Before having to forfeit that match, Garcia was a perfect 34-0 overall and was ranked first in the WPIAL Class AAA in 2010 at 189 pounds.

He finished his fine scholastic career as Ringgold's all-time leader in career wrestling wins with 124.

Lock Haven wrestling coach Robbie Waller, in his fourth season, is understandably pleased with Garcia's solid season.

“Fred has built on and improved from a very successful freshman year and is doing a great job for us,” said Waller, a graduate of nearby Mt. Pleasant High School where he was a 1998 PIAA Class AAA champion with a 128-3 career scholastic record. “With his continued hard work and determination we believe Fred is just going to keep getting better as we prepare for the post-season.”

Bruce Wald is a freelance writer.