Lock Haven wrestling launches multi-million dollar campaign, 'The Rise'

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Lock Haven wrestling is set to soar into the future following the public launch of "The Rise," a campaign to raise $3.5 million to propel the Bald Eagles' nationally ranked men's and women's wrestling programs to their greatest heights yet.

During the campaign kickoff gala held in Lock Haven's Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center on April 27, it was announced to over 100 alumni, supporters and student-athletes that more than $2.1 million in cash and pledges have already been secured toward the overall campaign goal.

Also announced at the gala was an anonymous donor's dollar-for-dollar matching gift of up to $100K for Lock Haven women's wrestling scholarships.

"Thanks to our dedicated Lock Haven wrestling alumni, donors, and fans, we are officially launching 'The Rise' campaign to make certain that Lock Haven men's and women's wrestling will always remain national wrestling powerhouses," said president Bashar W. Hanna to gala attendees. "The most important thing we can do for our students is to support them through their passions and their academics. Without your support and love for our students, none of this would be possible."

With a clear vision and resounding goals of "Honoring the Past, Securing Today's Success and Endowing Tomorrows Legacy," the excitement and anticipation engulfing Lock Haven's wrestling programs is rising, with gala attendees eagerly embracing the chance to be part of this transformative initiative to ensure the vitality of Lock Haven wrestling in perpetuity.

The Rise campaign is rooted in the rich legacy and tradition of Lock Haven wrestling, also known as Mat-Town USA. Since 1938, the men's wrestling program has produced 45 All-Americans, 34 National Champions and more than 750 team victories.

The legend of competitors like Gus DeAugustino '53, Gray Simons '62, Brad Lloyd '89, Cary Kolat '03 and Chance Marsteller '19 continues to inspire today's Bald Eagle wrestlers. Among them, two-time All-American Anthony Noto, two-time national qualifiers Wyatt Henson and Gable Strickland, plus an up-and-coming returning roster, and incoming class of recruits.

Under the leadership of head men's wrestling coach Scott Moore and assistant coach Ronnie Perry '18 - a 2018 national runner-up for the Bald Eagles - the men's program has experienced significant success, including four conference championships in the last six years.

"More than 80 years of teamwork and perseverance is how the legend of Mat-Town USA was born," said Moore. "Our student-athletes and coaches are ready to help our program rise into the future, and we're excited to see who joins us on this historic endeavor to ensure the legacy of Lock Haven wrestling is even stronger 80 years from today."

Although Lock Haven women's wrestling did not become an official athletic department sponsored program until 2019, the Bald Eagles' reputation as early adopters of women's wrestling goes back to the early 2000's, when world-renowned standouts like Sara McMann '03, Emma Randall and Jenny Wong trained alongside the men's team before any colleges officially recognized women's wrestling as a sanctioned sport.

However, in just three seasons of formal competition, the women's program has seen three top-11 finishes, six All-Americans and a national runner-up already crowned in its young history.

Under the leadership of first-year head coach Matt Lackey - a 2003 NCAA DI National Champion - the women completed their most successful campaign during the 2023-24 season, finishing No. 2 at the National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championships (NCWWC) Region I Tournament, and No. 7 in the country following the NCWWC National Championships.

"What our student-athletes have accomplished in a very short period of time is nothing short of remarkable," said Lackey. "Through the outpouring of generosity and enthusiasm from alumni and supporters, we believe the best of our success is still yet to come."

The Rise campaign goals are ambitious yet achievable, aiming to continue both programs' recent success through the increase of immediate-use funds that allow Moore and Lackey to continue their pursuit of top recruits without scholarship limitations. Additionally, the campaign seeks to grow the men's endowment by at least $2 million by 2028. The women's program has a target campaign goal of $350K.

"The success of the campaign hinges on the collective effort and commitment of the Mat-Town USA wrestling family," said Dr. Thane Turner '89, The Rise wrestling campaign steering committee chairperson. "It will take all of us - alumni, former wrestlers, coaches, parents and passionate fans - to build upon the legacy that countless legends who came before us battled so hard to create."

With a total of $2,161,629 secured as of April 27, Lock Haven wrestling, the Lock Haven University Foundation and The Rise wrestling campaign steering committee now shift their sights on achieving each of its remaining campaign milestones by 2028.

"Together, we will rise to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, forging a men's and women's wrestling legacy that will inspire generations to come just as we were inspired by the countless legends who came before us," said Turner.

Information and a copy of the men's and women's case statements are available upon request.

For more information or media inquiries, contact Ashley Koser, Lock Haven University Foundation executive director at 570-484-2298 or email ashley.koser@lhufoundation.org.

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