2007-08 WRESTLING SEASON PREVIEW
11/01/07...Season after season, Head Coach Pat Pecora’s (32nd year) Pitt Johnstown wrestling squad, takes the mat and proves it is one of the finest programs in the country. The Mountain Cats made it 24 Top-20 finishes after placing seventh at the 2007 NCAA Division II National Tournament. This year, Coach Pecora returns four All-Americans, two other National Qualifiers and a total of six starters to a team that will attempt to continue the tradition of excellence.
Coach Pecora welcomes back four senior All-Americans to anchor this year’s squad. Mike Corcetti (Export, Pa.) is a three-time All-American with a National Runner-Up finish and a pair of fourth place finishes at 184 lbs., while Brandon Reasy (133 lbs.) (New Enterprise, Pa.) earned two All-American honors and Derrek Bosso (125 lbs.) (Pequea, Pa.) placed sixth a year ago. In addition, 2006 All-American Albert Miles (Canonsburg, Pa.) will anchor the 174-lb weight class. 2007 National Qualifiers Shane Valko (141 lbs.) (Windber, Pa.) and Chris Dempsey (HWT.) (Sewickley, Pa.) also return to give the Mountain Cats the nucleus to take a shot at Pitt Johnstown’s third National Championship
The following is a tentative weight-by-weight synopsis of the 2007-08 Pitt Johnstown Mountain Cat wrestling team.
125-lb. Weight Class
After winning the battle for the starting job, Derrek Bosso worked his way to garnishing All-America honors. Bosso, entering his senior season, placed third at the East Regional Tournament and sixth at the National Tournament. He wrapped up the 2006-07 season with a 27-12 overall record and a 13-6 dual meet record. Bosso also won titles at both the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open and the Wilkes Open. Although Bosso looks to be the front-runner for the starting job, junior Scott Morgan (North Huntingdon, Pa.) should push him for those honors. Morgan split time with Bosso for much of last season. Morgan was 12-7 overall and 5-2 in dual meets. He finished second at the Wilkes Open and third at the Washington & Jefferson Open. Freshmen in this weight class include: two-time PA State Runner-Up Cody Myers (Three-Springs, Pa.) and 2007 PA State Qualifier Paul Myers (Cresson, Pa.).
133-lb. Weight Class
Two-time All-American Brandon Reasy returns for his senior season after placing sixth at the National Tournament as a sophomore and fifth as a junior. Reasy posted a 33-12 overall record and a 19-7 dual meet record on his way to placing second at the East Regional Tournament. His 33 overall wins and 19 dual meet wins both ranked second on the team to Mike Corcetti, while his 21 wins by decision paced the team. Reasy also won the championship at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open and placed third at the Wilkes Open. Freshmen in this weight class include: Matt Scherich (West Finley, Pa.), who placed fourth at the 2007 PA State AAA Tournament, and Brock Leitzel (Ridgway, Pa.), an eighth place finisher at the PA State AA Tournament in 2007.
141 lb. Weight Class
Shane Valko burst onto the collegiate wrestling scene and climbed to as high as #2 in the country as a red-shirt freshman a year ago. Valko, a fourth place finisher at the East Regional Tournament and a qualifier for the National Tournament, returns to take another shot at joining the ranks of the Mountain Cat All-Americans. He was 31-14 overall and 17-7 in dual meets and finished second on the team with 10 falls. Valko also took home the championship at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open. John Dragun (Pittsburgh, Pa.), and Andrew Flegler (Nazareth, Pa.) are red-shirt freshmen who will make their debuts this year. A freshman in this weight class is 2007 PA State Runner-Up Nathan Link (Cresson, Pa.).
149 lb. Weight Class
Sophomore Adam Whetstone (Claysburg, Pa.) is set to take over the starting job left by the graduation of Brian Cook (Pittsburgh, Pa.). Whetstone, a former PA State champion who wrestled the final matches of the 2006-07 season, including the East Regional Tournament, ended his red-shirt freshman season with a 6-8 overall record. He was also 3-4 in dual meets. Fellow sophomores Ryan McIntyre (Claysburg, Pa.), a teammate of Whetstone’s at Claysburg-Kimmel High School, and Dan Simon (Pittsburgh, Pa.) are expected to push for time on the mat. McIntyre wrapped-up his first season of collegiate wrestling with a 4-4 overall record and a 1-2 dual meet record, while Simon posted two wins in five matches. Brian Petrakis (Monroeville, Pa.) is red-shirt freshmen who will make his debut this year. Freshmen in this weight class include: Nikko Leitzel (Ridgway, Pa.), the 2006 PA State Champion and third place finisher in 2007, Rick Shawley (Bellwood, Pa.) and Bobby Wolford (Falling Waters, Pa.).
157-lb. Weight Class
With the graduation of two-time National Qualifier Joe Strittmatter (Ebensburg, Pa.) following the 2006-07 season, junior Mazen Kholi (Allentown, Pa.) is expected to move up from 149 lbs. to win the starting duties in this weight class. In shared duties at 149 lbs. last year, Kholi was 14-5 with a runner-up finish at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open. He was also 7-3 in dual meets. Of his 14 wins, six came by way of fall and six by decision. A freshman in this weight class is: 2007 Regional Qualifier Jared Roberts (Washington, Pa.).
165-lb. Weight Class
Sophomore Kyle Keane (Clearfield, Pa.), a spot starter in several weight classes a year ago, is slated battle senior Rob Sakmar (Johnstown, Pa.) to take over at 165 lbs. for fellow senior Albert Miles (Canonsburg, Pa.), who will move to 174 lbs. Keane recorded a 13-5 overall record and a 7-2 dual meet record as a red-shirt freshman. Of his 13 wins, six came by way of decision and five by fall. Keane also won the title at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open, while Sakmar, who will also see action at 174 lbs., was 9-5 overall and 4-3 in dual meets last season. Like Keane, Sakmar also won a championship at the Washington & Jefferson Open. Sophomore Nick Fastuca (South Park, Pa.) will compete for mat-time after posting a 4-6 record as red-shirt freshman. Freshmen in this weight class include: 2007 PA State Champion Matt Moore (Blairsville, Pa.), 2007 PA State Qualifier Phil Slaugh (Hanover, Pa.) and 2007 Regional Qualifier Jordan Moore (Leechburg, Pa.).
174-lb. Weight Class
Coach Pecora must replace two-time All-American Eli Garshnick (Armagh, Pa.). However, 2006 All-American Albert Miles is expected to move from 165 lbs. to 174 lbs. Despite coming up a bit short of returning to Nationals in 2007, Miles has proved his talent over the last three seasons. Miles, who placed fifth at the National Tournament in 2006, was 21-10 overall and 12-7 in dual meets last year. He won the championship at the season-opening West Virginia University Open and placed second at the Wilkes Open. Sakmar, who can also wrestle at 165 lbs., is tabbed to compete with Miles in this weight class. Red-shirt freshman and 2006 PA State AA third place finisher Steve Makin (Portage, Pa.) will make his Pitt Johnstown debut. A freshmen in this weight class is 2007 PA AAA State eighth place finisher Zach Lundgren (Dubois, Pa.).
184-lb. Weight Class
Senior, three-time All-American Mike Corcetti returns for one more shot at becoming a Mountain Cat National Champion. Corcetti, ranked #1 in NCAA Division II for last year’s entire regular season, has earned a second place and a pair of fourth place finishes at the National Tournament. He posted a school-record 29-0 regular season record and a 22-0 dual meet record on his way to ending the year with a 36-3 overall record. Corcetti placed second at the East Regional Tournament and won titles at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open and the Wilkes Open. 2005 letterman Gerred Price (Mifflin, Pa.) and red-shirt freshman Nathan Murin (Washington, Pa.), a seventh place finisher at the 2006 PA AAA State Tournament, will also compete for mat time. A freshman in this weight class is Damian Majocha (Lower Burrell, Pa.). Majocha was a 2007 PA State Qualifier.
197 lb. Weight Class
With the graduation of 2007 All-American Mike Fowler (Carrolltown, Pa.), Coach Pecora will look to sophomore Patrick Walsh (Leesport, Pa.) take over the starting job. In spot time at both 184 lbs. and 197 lbs., Walsh was 11-8 overall and 5-4 in dual meets as a red-shirt freshman. Of his 11 victories, three came by way of fall and three by major decision. In addition, the Mountain Cats will welcome back former three-time NCAA Qualifier Zach Majocha (Lower Burrell, Pa.) who was granted a medical red-shirt. Majocha, who can also wrestle at heavyweight, will battle Walsh for the starting job. Price could also battle for time in this weight class if he doesn’t wrestle at 184 lbs. 2006 PA State AA fourth place finisher Nathan Tomporoski (Natrona Heights, Pa.) will make his Mountain Cat debut and could push Walsh and Majocha for time on the mat. Freshmen in this weight class include: Jon Moore (Leechburg, Pa.), who placed sixth at the 2007 PA AAA State Tournament, and 2007 PA State Qualifiers Garrett Gibson (Irwin, Pa.) and Jason Kylor (Huntingdon, Pa.).
True freshman Chris Demspey (Sewickley, Pa.) exploded onto the collegiate wrestling scene despite having to split time with Jon Neese (Chambersville, Pa.) for the entire regular season. Dempsey ended his freshman season with a 23-14 overall record and a 10-6 dual meet record. Seventeen of his 23 wins came by way of fall. His 17 falls were just two shy of Carlton Haselrig’s (Johnstown, Pa.) heavyweight record of 19 falls in a season set during the 1986-87 season. Dempsey placed second at the East Regional Tournament and advanced to the National Tournament. He also placed third at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open. Zach Majocha and Tomporoski could also compete for mat-time at heavyweight if they doesn’t wrestle at 197 lbs. A freshman in this weight class is 2007 PA Regional Qualifier Ryan Everhart (Huntingdon, Pa.).
Coach Pecora and the Mountain Cats feel the 2007-08 season could be a very special one. With proven talent in just about every weight class, Pitt Johnstown will look to claim its 21st East Region Tournament title in front of the home crowd in the Sports Center in February, before going after the program’s third NCAA Division II National Championship at Upper Iowa University in March.