For The Tribune-Democrat
Seven Pitt-Johnstown wrestlers earned spots in the semifinals and two others advanced to today’s final day of the NCAA Division II Super Region I Tournament at Kutztown University.
UPJ stands in second place, 13.5 points behind Newberry (S.C.) College for the top spot.
“It was solid day,” said UPJ coach Pat Pecora. “We got seven guys going into the semifinals, and we’ve got two wrestling back. We only lost one wrestler so far, our 157-pounder, but we’ve got so many guys going on to the semifinals and two guys coming through the consolation bracket.
“We lost a couple tight ones today, but we won a lot of tight ones, too.”
Evan Link pinned American International’s Andrew Chase at 4:47 and won a 16-3 major decision over UNC-Pembroke’s Jake Smith to advance to the semifinals at 125 pounds, while returning All-American Dave Fogle used a 2-1 tie-breaker to defeat Jose Matos (Gannon) in the quarterfinals at 133 pounds.
The Mountain Cats kept it going in the lower weight classes with a technical fall and a 4-0 shutout by Dave Cawley at 141 pounds, and All-American Jack Bachman’s 5-2 quarterfinal decision over Michael Griffith (Mercyhurst) at 149 pounds.
UPJ wasn’t done yet. At 174 pounds, national qualifier Gary Lantz got falls over Anderson’s Allen Jacob and Shippensburg’s Neal Grudi, while All-American and top-seeded Travis McKillop opened the tournament with a first-period pin, before reaching the semifinals by handing Luke DeLuise (East Stroudsburg) a 9-0 major decision loss in the 184-pound bracket.
True freshman Josh Duplin became the seventh UPJ wrestler to advance to the semis when he held off Millersville’s Bradley Ladd, 4-3, in the quarterfinals at 285 pounds.
Two other Mountain Cats are still alive in the tournament.
After suffering a loss in the first round, second-seeded Keith Ryan (165 pounds) bounced back with pins over Nate Silverthorn (East Stroudsburg) and Ricky Pena (Kutztown), and Nikos Garafola (197 pounds) responded from a loss in the quarterfinals by pinning Seton Hill’s Tyler Dombrowski at 1:42 in the second round of the consolations.
Joel Paolo wrestled for UPJ at 157 pounds, but did not advance to today’s action.
Wrestling resumes today at 11 a.m. with the semifinals and consolation quarterfinals, followed by the consolation semifinals at approximately 12:30 p.m.
The final session will start at 3 p.m., featuring the finals, consolation finals, fifth-sixth place matches and true-fourth matches.
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