Two New Kensington wrestlers begin quest for national championships

With quality finishes at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Mid-East Regional Qualifier, Penn State New Kensington placed two wrestlers in the NCWA national championships, March 14-16 at the Allen Events Center in Allen, Texas.

Freshman John Dopplehauer and sophomore James Melnyk will represent the New Kensington campus in the individual championships. Both finished in the top six of the Mid-East Regional March 2.

Doppelhauer, the cornerstone of the campus' third-year wrestling program, is ranked 18th in the 285-pound weight class. His bracket features 80 of the top wrestlers from across the country. A product of Penn-Trafford High School, Dopplehauer came in third in the regional to earn his ticket to the nationals. The Jeannette, Pa., native was a solid performer all year, posting a 7-4 record, and a team best four pins.

Melnyk, a graduate of Schenley High School, received a wildcard invitation to the nationals. He is ranked 63rd in his weight class of 172 opponents. Melnyk arrived in Texas with a 4-8 mark, including three pins.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Derek Caldwell, the New Kensington Lions finished the team-portion of the season with a 7-13 record in dual competition. Caldwell has helped resuscitated a program that was dormant from 1975 to 2010. Wrestling was a staple of the campus athletic program in the early 1970s.

NCWA is the governing body for collegiate club wrestling teams in the United States and Canada. It is divided into seven regional conferences: Mid-East; Northeast; Mid-Atlantic; Southeast; North Central; Southwest; and West coast. The New Kensington Lions compete in the 18-member Mid-East region that includes programs from the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, University of Delaware and Lehigh University.

The campus ties to the NCWA are strong. Former Penn State New Kensington student Jim Giunta, a wrestler for the original campus program in the early '70s, is the founder and executive director of the organization.
Giunta, a 1971 graduate of Burrell High School, was a biology major at the campus. He switched to education after transferring to Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in education and a master’s degree in exercise physiology and cardiac rehabilitation. After graduation, he began teaching high school in Richardson, a North Dallas suburb, and served as the head wrestling coach there for seven years.

A resident of Dallas, he launched the Texas Interscholastic Wrestling Association in 1987 to promote wrestling in high schools. He formed the NCWA in 1997. Giunta was honored in 2004 with a lifetime achievement award by the Texas Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

For schedule and results of the NCWA tournament, visit

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Last Updated March 13, 2013