The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 2, 2014

UPJ sends six to NCAA Division II tournament


sports@tribdem.com

— Dave Fogle (125 pounds), Travis McKillop (184), and Zac Bennett (197) each won individual championships to lead a group of six Mountain Cat wrestlers who qualified for the national tournament following this weekend’s NCAA Division II Super Region I Tournament in the Sports Center.

Pitt-Johnstown finished second in the 12-team field, 25 points behind regional champion Notre Dame College.

Notre Dame won the team championship with 115.5 points. Pitt-Johnstown (90.5), Mercyhurst (83), Kutztown (55) and Gannon (40) rounded out the top five.

“We had a good tournament,” Pitt-Johnstown coach Pat Pecora said. “I think we wrestled very very very well to finish second. We were right behind Notre Dame, which is the No. 1 team in the nation. It’s a tough region. We wrestled real well.”

Mercyhurst’s Mike Wehler was named the 2014 Super Region I coach of the year, while Kutztown’s Evan Yenolevich (133) was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.

Fogle, the second seed at 125, earned a 5-3 win over third-seeded Brian Houser (Notre Dame) in the semifinals, before defeating top-seeded Matthew Turek (Gannon), 5-2, in the title bout.

At 184, top-seeded McKillop cruised into the title bout with a tech fall and a pin, before claiming the title with an 8-5 decision over Notre Dame’s Garrett Lineberger.

Second-seeded Zac Bennett pinned sixth-seeded Aram Moffitt at 1:15 in the semifinals to set up the championship bout with Notre Dame’s Brandonn Johnson.

Bennett built a 4-0 lead after two periods and went on to win the title with a 5-1 victory.

Three Mountain Cats qualified for the national tournament by wrestling through the consolation bracket and placing third.

At 141, Sam Hanau suffered a loss in the semifinals, but bounced back to win two more matches, including a fall over Seton Hill’s A.J. Fisher at 2:35 in the consolation finals.    

True freshman Cole Landowski also suffered a loss in the semis, but won a decision over Gannon’s Rocco Wellek.

Landowski then held off second-seeded Kyle Barnes (Shippensburg) 4-3 to reach the national tournament.

At 285, Josh Duplin lost in the quarterfinals, but battled back to win four straight matches, including a narrow 3-2 decision over West Liberty’s Aaron Silverio to earn a third-place finish.

Two-time national qualifier Gary Lantz suffered a tough 3-2 loss in the first tie-breaker to Kutztown’s Bionojel Candelaria in the third-place bout at 165.

Luke Palamides (133), Heath Coles (157), Nikos Garafola (174) all reached the consolation semifinals, but did not place.