The eighth-ranked Pitt-Johnstown wrestling squad got pins from Gary Lantz and Josh Duplin along with a decision victory by Travis McKillop over fellow all-American Adam Walters in a lopsided 42-6 victory over 16th-ranked Findlay in Wednesday’s dual meet opener in the Sports Center.
“It was our home opener and we had a great crowd so we wanted to put on a nice show for the crowd,” UPJ coach Pat Pecora said. “Findlay is a great team and we caught them at a bad time.”
The Mountain Cats extended their winning streak from last season to 15 straight dual meets. In the process, Pecora earned his 516th career win and moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time coaches win list in all divisions.
The Mountain Cats opened-up a 12-0 lead with forfeit victories by All-American seventh-ranked Dave Fogle at 125 pounds, and national qualifier Evan Link at 133, before Findlay’s Jared VanVleet used back points as time expired to defeat Luke Palamides, 6-5, at 141.
A forfeit win by All-American and sixth-ranked Dave Cawley extended the Pitt-Johnstown lead to 18-3.
The Mountain Cats then got a takedown by Sam Molina early into overtime to defeat Dalton Nicely, 13-11, at 157, and two-time National Qualifier Lantz pinned Bradley Metz at 2:51 in the 165-pound bout to push the Pitt-Johnstown lead out to 27-3.
“One of the key matches was Sam Molina at 157, a redshirt freshman,” Pecora said. “He was down. He came out of it and kept fighting back and won a 13-11 overtime decision. Gary Lantz had a big fall to get the fans going.”
At 174, Nikos Garafola picked-up the Mountain Cats’ fourth forfeit win of the night, setting up the feature match between two-time All-America McKillop and All-American Walters at 184.
Last season, the two split a pair of matches, but McKillop defeated Walters at the NCAA National Tournament in the third-place match. McKillop used an early takedown and an escape and held off Walters, 3-2, to build the Mountain Cat lead to 36-3.
“It was a nail-biter,” Pecora said.
At 197, Findlay answered with Tyler Beck’s 5-3 decision over Zak Newton, but the Mountain Cats closed it out in style when national qualifier and eighth-ranked Duplin pinned Cody Hogston in 32 seconds to set the final.
“Josh Duplin made the big move and got a first-period pin to send the crowd away with some excitement,” Pecora said.
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