PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Lake Erie College wrestling will make its official varsity debut on Sunday, Nov. 15, highlighting a 13-event inaugural season slate announced Monday, June 28.
The Storm will compete in four open tournaments and 11 dual matches in its first year, including contests against several top NCAA Division II teams and the defending NAIA national champions.
"Our schedule is very strong and it will be very challenging," said head coach Kevin Hoogenboom. "But by facing tough competition during the regular season, it will prepare us for the challenges of postseason wrestling. It is also important for us, as a first-year program, to see where we stand with some of the established teams in the region."
The team will host a preview event and intrasquad match at the Jerome T. Osborne Family Athletic & Wellness Center on Nov. 5 and opens the season the following weekend at the Washington & Jefferson College Open. Lake Erie then travels to York College on Nov. 20 for a quad match against the host Spartans, Messiah College and Waynesburg University.
On Saturday, Dec. 4, the Storm will roll out the mats to host the first home match in school history against Seton Hill University. Lake Erie closes out the calendar year at Baldwin-Wallace College (Dec. 11) and at the 30-plus-team Midwest Classic at the University of Indianapolis (Dec. 18-19).
The 2011 portion of the schedule opens at perennial D-II power the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown on Jan. 7 and then at home Jan. 14 against in-region foe and 2009 NAIA national champion Notre Dame College.
January concludes with a pair of open tournaments at the University of Mount Union (Jan. 16) and Ashland University (Jan. 22) mixed in with dual matches at Ashland and fellow first-year program Penn State University-New Kensington. The Storm will also wrestle West Virginia Tech at New Kensington (Jan. 29).
"We're looking forward to the challenge of facing well established programs like Pitt-Johnstown and Ashland on the road," Hoogenboom said. "And its very exciting to host a match like one against Notre Dame that will be a great event for wrestling fans in Northeast Ohio."
A pair of first-year teams come to Painesville on Feb. 5 when the Storm hosts the Lake Erie Duals against Tiffin University, Ohio Valley University and regional foe Mercyhurst College, where Hoogenboom competed as a student-athlete and later served as an assistant coach. The Storm closes out the regular season on Feb. 16 at home against Gannon University.
"It will be interesting to get an up-close look at two other brand new Division II programs and see how we compare with them," Hoogenboom said. "And at the same time, we will be able to see how far we've come in our first year by closing the season out against some very tough PSAC schools in Mercyhurst and Gannon."
The University of Findlay will host the NCAA Midwest Regionals Feb. 25-26 where the Storm will compete in hopes of advancing to the NCAA Division II National Championships in Kearney, Neb. March 11-12.