The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 1, 2013

UPJ wrestlers rally for win


sports@tribdem.com

ERIE — A road match at 13th-ranked Mercyhurst coming off an outstanding showing at the Super Region I duals last weekend was a dangerous combination for No. 5 Pitt-Johnstown.

The Mountain Cats got off to a slow start versus the Lakers as they fell behind by scores of 6-0 and 12-3 before rallying for a 20-15 victory.

“It was a huge weekend last weekend and we knew this is the type of team that’s ready for an upset,” Pitt-Johnstown coach Pat Pecora said. “The first two matches were huge, and we lost both. I was like, ‘Here we go.’ Everyone kept talking about a letdown, but we came through in the upper weights.”

Trailing 12-3, Pitt-Johnstown (12-2) – winners of 11 consecutive matches – got a pin late in the third period from Keith Ryan at 165 that ignited a string of four straight victories that propelled the Mountain Cats into the lead.

“Keith Ryan was in a close match and he caught (Clint Schaefer) in a cradle with seconds left in the third. It really catapulted us,” Pecora said. “He’s a pinner, a head hunter. He’s never out of a match.”

Gary Lantz at 174 and Travis McKillop (184) each won by major decision to give Pitt-Johnstown a 17-12 lead and Nikos Garafola clinched the victory over Merychurst (12-2), which is ranked second in Region 1 right behind Pitt-Johnstown, with a 7-4 decision over Seth Stonis.

“This was a huge win. They’re ranked right behind us,” Pecora said. “It was their senior night and they got off to a great start. We were worried, but the guys hung in there.”

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