Cleveland, Ohio —
Junior Travis McKillop finished as the national runner-up at 184 pounds to lead a group of four Pitt-Johnstown All-Americans at the NCAA Division II National Wrestling Championships in Cleveland.
The Mountain Cats finished ninth in the team competition. Notre Dame (Ohio) College claimed the national team title.
“Overall, it was a good weekend,” UPJ coach Pat Pecora said. “We brought six guys and come home with four All-Americans.”
Along with McKillop, Dave Fogle (125 pounds) finished third, and Zac Bennett (197) and Josh Duplin (285) each placed seventh.
McKillop reached the semifinals with two decision wins on Friday, then scored an 8-6 sudden victory over Western State’s Kyle Piatt to set up the title bout with Notre Dame’s Garrett Lineberger.
In the national championship match, McKillop started strong with a takedown 30 seconds into the match, but Lineberger got a reversal to tie it at two after the first period. Lineberger then started the second period on top and eventually pinned McKillop at 4:54 to win the title.
“It was tough in the finals match,” Pecora said. “The score is tied 2-2. It started out great with an immediate takedown and almost backpoints. The kid gets a reversal and we go into the second period at 2-2.
“(Lineberger) was riding him hard and had like 3 minutes riding time. They went through a flurry. He got caught on his back with 20 seconds left and was stuck. He got pinned with seconds left. It’s a shame. He beat the kid in the regional finals.”
McKillop scored a 9-2 win over Chevy Farris, and a 7-3 decision over Dallas Smith of Ouachita Baptist to start the tournament.
“Travis is one of the most accomplished wrestlers we have,” Pecora said. “He has one more step. He was seventh as a freshman, last year he was third, and this year he was second. He has one more step, one more shot.”
After suffering a 4-1 loss to eventual national runner-up T.J. North of Augustana in the semifinals, Forest Hills High School graduate Fogle stormed back with a pair of falls to place third at 125 pounds.
“Dave Fogle wrestled a great tournament,” Pecora said. “He lost in the semis but came back and pinned the next two guys. He ended his career on a high note with the pin. He really turned it on, not only on the mats but in the classroom. We’re going to miss him.”
Fogle opened Saturday’s wrestling by pinning Bryden Lazaro of California Baptist at 5:32, before defeating Gannon’s Matt Turek for the third time this season. Fogle pinned Turek with six seconds remaining in the first period to finish third.
Fogle opened the tournament with a 5-2 decision over St. Cloud State’s Tanner Johnshoy, before scoring a 4-1 win over Alex Johns of Indianapolis to earn a spot in the semifinals.
Westmont Hilltop High School graduates Bennett and Duplin each won their opening round bouts, but suffered losses in the quarterfinals.
On Saturday, Bennett suffered a 13-4 loss to Notre Dame’s Brandonn Johnson in the consolation semifinals, but came back to earn a 6-2 decision over Lake Erie’s Evan Rosborough to place seventh.
Bennett pinned Newberry’s Joe Grisko at 1:57 of the first period, but a late takedown lifted Upper Iowa’s Carl Broghammer to a 6-4 win and sent Bennett into the consolation bracket. He rebounded to defeat Sam Mangum of Western State, 6-5, in the second round of the consolations.
At 285 pounds, Duplin lost 14-2 to Austin Goergen of St. Cloud State, forcing him to wrestle for seventh-place against Newberry’s Matt Wade, where Duplin scored three overtime points to defeat Wade, 4-1.
Both of Duplin’s first day matches were decided in tiebreakers. Duplin held off Lorenzo Serna, 2-1, in the first round, but Maryville’s Donnell Walker defeated Duplin, 4-3, in the quarterfinals. Duplin also stayed alive in the tournament with a 2-1 victory over Southwest Minnesota State Cole Wilson in the consolation bracket.
“We had two sevenths,” Pecora said. “Zac Bennett also got the most pins award. He came away with two awards. He had a great season with us. He’s only a junior so he has another shot at it next year.
“The Westmont boys, with Duplin at heavyweight, he started the season off struggling,” Pecora added. “Then before you know it he gets third in the region and gets All-American as a sophomore. They might be the first two Westmont wrestlers to earn All-American in the same year.”
Sam Hanau (141 pounds) and Cole Landowski (149 pounds) each wrestled, but both were 0-2.
“Another great year,” Pecora said. “We were 13-2 in dual meets. We were second in the region to the (eventual) national championship team, Notre Dame. We finished in the Top-10 in the nation with four All-Americans. I’m proud of the guys. They did a great job.”