Not too long ago, a Division II Super Region I tournament meant that Pitt-Johnstown was the hunted.
For now, that isn’t the case. But at least the prospective prey is coming into the Mountain Cats’ backyard when the Super Region I tournament occupies the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center today and Sunday.
Top-ranked Notre Dame College leads the field entering this weekend’s action with Mercyhurst (No. 7), Pitt-Johnstown (No. 11) and Kutztown (No. 16) also in the tournament.
“We’re approaching this the same way that we approach regionals every year,” Pitt-Johnstown coach Pat Pecora said. “Basically we’re going into the tournament with each individual trying to compete as best as they can be. The toughest part in this region is trying to place in the top three to get to nationals. The main thing is to see who can get to nationals.”
Notre Dame College’s Joey Davis (174 pounds) and Kutztown’s Ziad Haddad (285), both hold the No. 1-rankings in their respective weight classes.
In total, approximately 120 wrestlers across 10 weight classes will converge in Richland Township for the two-day event.
Pitt-Johnstown carries two nationally ranked wrestlers into the field with Dave Fogle entering the bracket at 125 and Travis McKillop at 184. Fogle is eighth in the nation in his weight class while McKillop is ranked second.
“According to paper, they’ll be our top guys going,”Pecora said. “Dave Fogle, I’m just so proud of him athletically and academically ... He’s had a great season in a tough weight class. Every weight class is going to be tough. Travis made an immediate impact on our program. As a true freshman, he was an all-American, was third in the nation and lost in the semis. This year, he’s taken that one more step.”
While Fogle and McKillop are the de facto leaders for the Mountain Cats during the tournament, Pecora believes that the program will be represented well in all of the weight classes.
“We have some other wrestlers that will be in the hunt,” Pecora said. “At 197, Zac Bennett ... He wrestled the second term and did really well. He’s lethal and could make a big mark for himself in this tournament. Gary Lantz at 165 is on fire right now.”
Pecora also cited Josh Dulpin (285), Sam Hanau (141), Luke Palamides (149), Cole Landowski (157) and Nik Garafola (174) as threats this weekend.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.