The Pitt-Johnstown wrestling team starts only one senior in Keith Ryan at 165 pounds, but that doesn't mean the class hasn't made a significant contribution to the Mountain Cats' standing in the regional and national rankings.
Ranked first in NCAA Division II Super Region I and fifth in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Top 25 poll, UPJ plans to honor it senior class Wednesday when the Mountain Cats (14-2) host rival Shippensburg at the Sports Center in their regular-season finale. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
"It's a big match," Pitt-Johnstown coach Pat Pecora said Monday afternoon. "Shippensburg is on a roll. ... They have a lot of wrestlers ranked. Shippensburg has always been a good match. It's close to us. They have Pennsylvania kids on the team and their 141-pounder (Cody Myers) transfered from here. It's a good rivalry."
And Ryan has been awfully good for Pitt-Johnstown, which has won 13 consecutive dual meets.
"Keith has been an integral part of this," Pecora said. "He's kept us in some big matches. The Mercyhurst match he had a big pin late in the third with the score tied. He's been great and he's strengthened our lineup. He's a head hunter and, in a dual meet, those six points from pins are huge. It's like winning two weight classes."
Ryan is one of two UPJ wrestlers ranked second in his respective weight class in Super Region I along with Dave Cawley at 141. Sophomore Travis McKillop is ranked first at 184.
Not bad for a fifth-year senior who is a first-year starter for the Mountain Cats.
“It goes to show you if you stick it out, good things can happen. Keith’s been here five years and he’s taken advantage of his chance,” Pecora said. “He’s surprised everyone in the region because I guarantee you a lot of people didn’t know who he was before the season.”
Other seniors on the UPJ roster are Jon Moore, Glenn Winslow and Kevin Ryan, Keith’s brother.
“These are all guys that did it for the team. That says a lot about them,” Pecora said. “With Keith, he epitomizes what this senior class has stood for. They’ve been journeymen, but they’re journeymen on a good team and Keith represents that senior class. He actually represents our season because we weren’t expected to be this good.”