Pitt-Johnstown’s wrestlers know just how tough Pat Pecora is.
They see it during every practice, as the longtime coach pushes them mentally and physically as far as they think they can go – and then pushes them a bit farther.
So, when David Fogle and Travis McKillop, found out over the summer that the Hall of Fame coach had lung cancer, they came to a similar conclusion: The disease never had a chance.
“At first it was tough, but when it came down to it, Coach is a tough guy,” said Fogle, a 133-pound junior from Forest Hills.
“He’s mentally prepared for any challenge that comes his way. Just being hopeful and faithful, knowing that he’ll get through it, because he teaches us self-reliance and perseverance through anything. He’s a man of his word and he lives his life like that. I wasn’t really worried. We knew he’d be fine. He’s a tough man.”
For McKillop, who had just completed his freshman year as an All-American 174-pounder under Pecora, hearing the diagnosis was difficult.
“When I found out, my heart stopped,” McKillop said. “Coach is the reason I came here. He’s like a second father to me. I put my heart and soul and I trust him to death. Anything he tells me to do, I do and I do it as soon as he tells me to do it. I don’t second guess him at all.”
He also never second guessed Pecora’s will.
“I just had this gut feeling that he was going to get through that,” McKillop said. “He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met.”
On Wednesday, as the Mountain Cats prepared for their first dual meet of the season on Friday at West Liberty, the 59-year-old Pecora was there, running the workouts as he has for the past 37 seasons.