Pitt-Johnstown wrestling coach Pat Pecora frequently has been asking one question over the past few weeks:
The Mountain Cats’ depth has been evident as a rash of injuries – some potentially season-ending – have hit the UPJ lineup.
On Wednesday, Pecora’s team defeated host Seton Hill, 36-10, with a revamped lineup and a few young faces.
“We’re in the next-man-up mode,” Pecora said after his team improved to 8-1 overall, 2-1 in the PSAC.
“We lost two major starters, Dave Cawley, an All-American at 141. Then we lost our 157-pounder Sam Molina last week. We have a couple other starters out of the lineup. The next man up, we’ve just been doing it.”
UPJ’s Dave Fogle won by forfeit at 125, and freshman Luke Palamides decisioned Seton Hill’s Andrew Schutz 9-2 at 133 to put the Mountain Cats up 9-0.
The Griffins responded with A.J. Fisher’s major decision over Craig Dawson at 141.
UPJ true freshman Cole Landowski won 10-5 over Kevin Laubach to give the Cats a 12-4 advantage.
“At 133, a freshman (Palimides) came up with a big win and that got us on the board,” Pecora said. “Another true freshman (Landowski) at 149 came up with a big win.”
The Mountain Cats forfeited at 157 with Molina out. But United graduate John Blankenship won by decision over Brett Smith at 165.
“John Blankenship did a great job for us,” Pecora said. “We went on a roll then. Garafola won a solid match at 174. We had our two hammers at 184 and 197. McKillop and Bennett are just pinning machines. Both got pins, Travis in the first period and Bennett in the second.”
Nikos Garfola decisioned Seton Hill’s Tyler Mohlhenrich 10-3 at 174. UPJ’s Travis McKillop pinned Tyler Dombrowski 2:23 at 184, and Westmont graduate Zac Bennett won by fall over Morris Lawson in 2:53.
Another Hilltopper grad, Josh Duplin, pinned Ryan Simonica in 5:54 at 285.
“Duplin finished us off at heavyweight with a nice pin,” Pecora said. “We came away with a nice win with our next man up.”
“We’re trying to get through this month of January. It’s been one of those years where you have to juggle the lineup. We’re still winning and that’s the bottom line.”