The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 15, 2013

UPJ wrestling wins fifth straight

ERIE — The No. 12 Pitt-Johnstown wrestling team fell behind early, but rambled back to a 27-7 victory over host Gannon for the Mountain Cats’ fifth consecutive win on Tuesday.

“It was a dogfight. Every match we had to work our butts off,” UPJ coach Pat Pecora said. “The key to the match was we won the tight ones. As a coach, you like to see that. We won all the close ones, which was huge.”

Gannon took a 7-0 advantage after winning the first two bouts, but UPJ (6-2) won the final eight matchups including NCAA Division II eighth-ranked Travis McKillop’s technical fall over Super Region No. 2-ranked Zack Zelcs at 184 pounds.

Gannon’s quick start resulted from a pair of bouts that featured regionally-ranked wrestlers. At 125, Super Region I No. 3 Matthew Turek won by major decision 12-3 over UPJ’s fifth-ranked Evan Link. In a meeting of two of the region’s best, No. 2 Jose Matos upset UPJ’s Dave Fogle, who is ranked first in the region and eighth nationally at 133. Matos won 5-3 to give Gannon a 7-0 lead.

“The kid is ranked second in the region at 125 and we got major decisioned, and then we lost a tight one at 133,” Pecora said.

But UPJ quickly took command with wins by Dave Cawley (4-0 over Adam Weinell at 141), Jack Bachman (6-4 over Michael Krysaik at 149), and  Joel Paolo (2-1 over Casey Pace at 157) as the Cats took a 9-7 lead.

Keith Ryan won 6-3 over Adam Greenman at 165, and Gary Lantz won 3-2 over Jermaine Easter at 174 to keep it rolling for UPJ.

“We won 5-0 at 141, but at 149, he was down three points and came back and won 6-4,” Pecora said. “We won another close one at 157. Then 165 wasn’t an easy one either. We won by one at 174. Those four matches are the ones that did it for us.”

McKillop’s 15-0 technical fall over Zelcs put an exclamation point on the win.

“That was the No. 1 and No. 2 guys in the region,” Pecora said. “Travis tech falled him. That was huge.”

UPJ closed with Nikos Garafola’s major decision at 197 and heavyweight Josh Duplin’s double overtime victory.

“We had three one-point matches. We had two two-point matches and Josh Duplin went to double overtime,” Pecora said. “The 27-7 score really wasn’t indicative of how tight the match really was. We came back from 7-0. A win on the road is always good.”

The Mountain Cats host No. 18 Ashland (Ohio) on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Center.