The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 28, 2014

UPJ wrestlers survive close call

PAINESVILLE, Ohio — The outcome of Monday’s match between 13th-ranked Pitt-Johnstown and No. 16 Lake Erie College was in question to the very end.

In a close call, the Mountain Cats survived for a 21-16 victory.

“This was a barnburner, a real big win for us,” UPJ coach Pat Pecora said. “It went right down to the wire.”

With the Mountain Cats clinging to an 18-16 lead, heavyweight Josh Duplin trailed 2-1 in his match against the Storm’s Almonte Patrick. But in the final seconds of the match, the former Westmont Hilltop standout was able to get a takedown and rode it out for a 3-2 decision and UPJ victory.

“If Josh Duplin doesn’t win that match, we lose 19-16,” Pecora said. “We’ve been through some adversity and lost two of our All-Americans and Lake Erie knew that we weren’t at full strength. But I’m real proud of these guys, they showed why we are Pitt-Johnstown. It was a real team win and I’m really excited.”

Pitt-Johnstown raised its winning streak to eight straight matches and improved to 10-1 on the year.

The Mountain Cats started strong with fourth-ranked Dave Fogle’s 17-1 technical fall over Keanu Thompson at 6:22, but Lake Erie came right back to take its first lead of the night with wins at 133 and 141.

Pitt-Johnstown regained the lead at 149 when Sam Hanau broke a 9-9 third-period tie with a fall over Nick Bloch at 5:35 to make it 11-7.

“That was one of the key turning points in the match,” Pecora said about Hanau, who was wrestling up a weight.

At 157, second-ranked Zak Vargo broke open a 1-0 lead after two periods on his way to defeating Mountain Cat true freshman Cole Landowski, 6-1, and getting Lake Erie to within one at 11-10.

Eighth-ranked Gary Lantz increased the Pitt-Johnstown lead to 14-10 with a 9-5 decision over Tyler Tesney at 165, a 4-2 win by Dylan Zivcic over Nikos Garafola at 174 narrowed it to 14-13.

Second-ranked Travis McKillop earned a 10-2 major decision over Chevy Farris at 184 to give the Mountain Cats a five-point advantage with two bouts remaining.

But Evan Rosborough upset Zac Bennett 6-4 at 197 to narrow Lake Erie’s

deficit to 18-16, setting up Duplin’s match that sealed the Mountain Cat win.

With the loss, Lake Erie dropped to 9-7.

Pitt-Johnstown will host Wheeling Jesuit University at 7 p.m. Friday at the Sports Center.


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