2010-11 Wrestling Season Preview
Five Mountain Cat starters, including an All-American and a National Qualifier, return to lead a relatively young Pitt-Johnstown squad that is coming off of an 11th-place finish at the 2010 National Tournament and the program’s 27th Top-20 national finish under Head Coach Pat Pecora (35th season).
Pitt-Johnstown, ranked No. 14 in the 2010-11 NCAA Division II National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Preseason Poll, will be led by senior All-American heavyweight Chris Dempsey (Sewickley, Pa.) and 2010 National Qualifier Ryan Link (Cresson, Pa.), who will move from 125 lbs. to 133 lbs. In addition, Zach Lundgren (165 lbs.) (DuBois, Pa.) (165 lbs.), Steve Makin (174 lbs.) (Portage, Pa.) and A.J. Brentzel (184 lbs.) (Irwin, Pa.) all return to the starting line-up.
However, Coach Pecora must fill some big shoes this year. 2010 National Champion and NWCA National Wrestler of the Year Shane Valko (133 lbs.) (Windber, Pa.), All-Americans Adam Whetstone (141 lbs.) (Claysburg, Pa.), Kyle Keane (165 lbs.) (Bradford, Pa.) and Patrick Walsh (197 lbs.) (Leesport, Pa.) and two-time National Qualifier Ryan McIntyre (149 lbs.) (Claysburg, Pa.) were all lost after last season due to graduation.
The following is a tentative weight-by-weight synopsis of the 2010-11 Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cat wrestling team.
125-lb. Weight Class
After bursting onto the collegiate wrestling scene and advancing to the NCAA National Tournament as a red-shirt freshman in 2010, Ryan Link will move up to 133 lbs., setting up a battle to the starting job at 125 lbs. Red-shirt freshman and former four-time PIAA PA State Place-winner David Fogle (Summerhill, Pa.) appears to be the early front-runner to win the starting position, but junior Matt Scherich (West Finley, Pa.), a two-year spot-starter for the Mountain Cats, and red-shirt freshman David Baker (Coraopolis, Pa.) will also compete for the job. Fogle posted a 9-5 record and placed third at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open as a true freshman, while Baker was 2-3 wrestling at open tournaments. Freshmen in this weight class include 2010 PIAA AAA Regional Qualifiers Anthony Napoleone (Moon Township, Pa.) and Blaine Shutt (Hummelstown, Pa.).
133-lb. Weight Class
Link is expected to take over at 133 lbs. and replace 2010 National Champion and National Wrestler of the Year Shane Valko. Link posted a 22-9 overall record and a 9-4 mark in dual meets on his way to placing fourth at the Super Region I Tournament and advancing to the National Tournament at 125 lbs. as a red-shirt freshman last year. Link, who won the title at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open, was tied for third on the team with 14 decision victories. Fellow sophomore Glenn Winslow (Patton, Pa.), a former PIAA State Place winner could push Link for time on the mat. Winslow was 6-5 and 1-1 in dual meets in his first year of collegiate wrestling, while Scherich was 1-4 overall and 1-1 in dual meets. Sophomore Doug Maiorana (Lewisburg, Pa.) is also in the mix at 133 lbs., after going 6-7 with five decision sand a major decision a year ago. Red-shirt freshman and former PIAA State Place winner Tyler Chesney (Roaring Spring, Pa.) will make his Mountain Cat debut after red-shirting in 2009-10. a freshman in this weight class is: 2010 Ohio Division II State Qualifier Nick Katich (Louisville, OH).
141-lb. Weight Class
With the graduation of All-American Adam Whetstone, red-shirt freshmen and two-time PIAA State Place finishers Jack Bachman (Greensburg, Pa.) and David Cawley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) will compete to earn the starting spot. Bachman, former PA State Runner-up and seventh-place finisher, was 6-4 wrestling open tournaments as a freshman, while Cawley, who might also wrestle at 149 lbs., placed sixth and seventh at the PA State Tournament. Cawley was 7-4 as a true freshman with a fourth-place finish at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open. Sophomore Dan Maiorana (Lewisburg, Pa.) will also push for mat time after posting a 2-4 record in 2009-10. Freshmen in this weight class include: 2010 West Virginia State Champion Joel Paolo (Weirton, WV) and PA State Qualifiers Cory Bonura (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Domenic Pietropaolo (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
149-lb. Weight Class
The 149-lb. weight class is also open due to the graduation of two-time National Qualifier Ryan McIntyre. Junior Nathan Link (Cresson, Pa.) is the clear-cut favorite to take over the starting role. Link, who sat out last season, gained valuable starting experience as a red-shirt freshman two years ago. Cawley is also expected to push Link in this weight class if he doesn’t wrestle at 141 lbs. Freshmen in this weight class include: 2010 third-place PA State finisher Shawn Perich (Summerhill, Pa.) and 2010 eight-place PA State Place finisher Justin Harold (Leechburg, Pa.).
157-lb. Weight Class
2009-10 starter Zach Lundgren will move to 165 lbs. this season, allowing sophomore Keith Ryan (Shirleysburg, Pa.) and red-shirt freshman Joe Harper (Duncannon, Pa.) to compete for the starting duties. Ryan was 9-6 with seven pins as a red-shirt freshman. Harper posted a 2-4 record wrestling open tournaments as a true freshman. Sophomore Myers Miller (Bolivar, Pa.) is also in the mix to battle Ryan and Harper. Miller was 3-8 overall and 0-2 in dual meets in his Pitt-Johnstown debut last season. Red-shirt freshman Chad Miller (Johnstown, Pa.), a former two-time PA State Qualifier, will begin his college career after posting a 3-4 overall record in open tournaments as a freshman. A newcomer and freshmen in this weight class include: Lock Haven University transfer and former PA AA State Qualifier Brandon Pfahler (Alum Bank, Pa.) and 2010 PA Regional Qualifiers Jack Hnath (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Ryan Walters (Pleasant Unity, Pa.).
165-lb. Weight Class
All-American and three-time National Qualifier Kyle Keane graduated, forcing Coach Pecora to fill another hole in the line-up. However, an experienced Lundgren will make the move from 157 lbs. to 165 lbs. Lundgen was 14-10 overall and 9-5 in dual meets in his first year as a starter in 2009-10. Lundgren wrestled at the Super Region I Tournament, but did not place. Eight of his victories came by way of decision. Sophomore Kevin Ryan (Shirleysburg, Pa.) will compete for mat-time after a 2-5 season a year ago. Myers Miller could also see some time in this weight class if he doesn’t wrestling at 157 lbs. In addition, red-shirt freshman Gary Lantz (Delta, Pa.) will make his Mountain Cat debut after going 5-4 in open tournaments as a true freshman.
174-lb. Weight Class
Steve Makin (Portage, Pa.) returns to the starting line-up for his senior year and one last shot at earning a spot in the National Tournament. Makin, who claimed the starting job as a sophomore, is coming off of a 23-12 overall record and a 12-4 dual met record in 2009-10. His 14 wins by decision were tied with Ryan Link for third on the team. Makin placed sixth at the Super Region I Tournament and fifth at the Washington and Jefferson Collegiate Open. Red-shirt freshman and former PA State place winner Logan Shirey (Fairmont City, Pa.) will push Makin for mat-time. Shirey was 2-2 in open tournaments a year ago. A freshman in this weight class is 2010 PA AA State Place winner (6th-place) Ryan Maurer (Reading, Pa.).
184-lb. Weight Class
The 184-lb. weight class will also see a new starter this season. 2010 All-American and three-time National Qualifier Patrick Walsh wrapped-up his Pitt-Johnstown career with a sixth-place national finish last year. Once again, an experienced starter is expected to replace Walsh. Senior A.J. Brentzel, who transferred to Pitt-Johnstown from the University of Pittsburgh prior to the 2009-10 season, will drop from 197 lbs. to 184 lbs. Brentzel came in and won the starting spot at 197 lbs. and finished with a 20-9 overall record and a 13-3 mark in dual meets. His 15 decision victories were tied with Walsh for second on the team behind Keane’s 16. Brentzel placed fifth at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open and wrestled at the Super Region I Tournament, but did not place. Junior Damian Majocha (Lower Burrell, Pa.), who has recovered from an injury that sidelined him a year ago, will look to earn time on the mat. Majocha finished with a 4-7 overall record and a 0-2 dual meet record before his season came to an end. Red-shirt freshman and former PA State Place winner Tim DeFrances (Cochranton, Pa.) will make his Pitt-Johnstown debut, while Shirey could also wrestle at 184 lbs. if he does not wrestle at 174 lbs.
197-lb. Weight Class
With Brentzel dropping from 197 lbs. to 184 lbs., junior Jon Moore (Leechburg, Pa.) should fill the vacancy, despite not wrestling last season. Moore was a pitcher on the Mountain Cat baseball team. In 2008-09, Moore was 14-12 overall and 6-7 after winning the starting job at 184 lbs. He was also the runner-up at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open and placed third at the Wilkes Open. Red-shirt freshman Petros Georgilas (McKees Rocks, Pa.), a 2009 PA State Place winner, will begin his collegiate career after going 0-4 in open tournaments last year. Freshmen in this weight class include: 2010 PA State Place winner Eric Shaffer (Latrobe, Pa.) and three-time PA State Qualifier Bob Oshaben (Summerhill, Pa.).
Three-time National Qualifier and 2010 All-American Chris Dempsey (Sewickley, Pa.) is back to try to improve upon his eighth-place national finish. Dempsey won the Super Region I Championship and advanced to his third consecutive National Tournament last year. He was 22-15 overall and 10-6 in dual meets. He also placed fourth at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open. 2009 PA State Place winner Josh Krupa (Bedford, Pa.) will make his Mountain Cat debut after taking a red-shirt as a freshman in 2009-10. Krupa posted a 6-3 overall record in open tournaments and earned a third-place finish at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open. A freshman in this weight class is 2010 PA State Qualifier Zach Baker (Jeannette, Pa.).
The 2010-11 Mountain Cat wrestling team might have several new looks in its line-up, but it’s going to be the same old style that could lead this team to the top of the NCAA division II Super Region I rankings and another shot at a top-10 national finish.