2012-13 MOUNTAIN CAT WRESTLING SEASON PREVIEW
After another top-12 national finish a year ago, Head Coach Pat Pecora (37th season), who became the first Division II coach to reach the 500-win plateau, will shuffle some weight classes and try to lead his young Mountain Cats to another impressive national finish in 2012-13.
Several wrestlers are expected to move up or down a class, but the nucleus of last season’s 12-3 team is back. Led by returning All-Americans Dave Fogle (Summerhill, Pa.), Jack Bachman (Greensburg, Pa.), and Travis McKillop (Lower Burrell, Pa.) and 2012 National Qualifiers Gary Lantz (Delta, Pa.) and Jon Moore (Leechburg, Pa.), Pitt-Johnstown should continue to be one of the top teams in Super Region I, as well as the nation.
However, the Mountain Cats must make some adjustments in their line-up to make up for the loss of All-Americans in Ryan Link (Cresson, Pa.) (133 lbs.), Nathan Link (Cresson, Pa.) (149 lbs.), and Zach Lundgren (DuBois, Pa.) (157 lbs.).
If Coach Pecora and his Mountain Cats can blend in some new talent with what is coming back into the line-up, the 2012-13 season could be a special one for Pitt-Johnstown.
Below is a tentative weight-by-weight look at the 2012-13 Mountain Cat wrestling team
125-lb. Weight Class
After starting at 125 lbs. for two seasons and joining the ranks of the Pitt-Johnstown All-Americans, Dave Fogle (125 lbs.) will move to 133 lbs. Red-shirt freshman and two-time PIAA State Runner-up Evan Link (Cresson, Pa.) looks to be the front-runner to take over the starting job. Link, who also finished seventh at the PA State Tournament and was a two-time National High School Runner-up, placed third at both the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open and the Wilkes Open while red-shirting as a true freshman in 2011-12. Red-shirt freshman Felipe Arias (Sinking Spring, Pa.) will also make his collegiate debut and push Link to wrestle at 125 lbs. A freshman in this weight class is Anthony Mastrangelo (Phoenixville, Pa.).
133-lb. Weight Class
Fogle is expected to replace Ryan Link (Cresson, Pa.) as the starter at 133 lbs. Fogle posted a 23-9 overall record and a 12-3 mark in dual meets at 125 lbs. on his way to finishing second at the Super Region I tournament and third at the National Tournament a year ago. Fogle’s 12 dual meet wins tied for second on the team, while his six major decisions were also tied for second on the team, and his 11 decisions tied for third. After two seasons off, senior and former PIAA State Place-winner Glenn Winslow (Patton, Pa.) could push Fogle for time on the mat. Craig Dawson (Penn Hills, Pa.) is coming off of a red-shirt season as a true freshman and will provide depth in this weight class. Freshmen are 2011 PIAA AA fifth-place finisher and 2012 PIAA AA State Qualifier Ben Rager (Ebensburg, Pa.), Cole Claar (Claysburg, Pa.), and William Leeth (Johnstown, Pa.).
141-lb. Weight Class
The 141-lb. weight class could also see a new starter this season. Two-year starter and All-American Jack Bachman (Greensburg, Pa.) is likely to jump up to 149 lbs. If Bachman makes the move, Dave Cawley (Pittsburgh, Pa.), who is coming off of an injury that ended his sophomore season, is slated to be the starter. Cawley wrestled at 141 lbs. as a red-shirt freshman and was 16-6 overall and 8-3 in dual meets. He moved 149 lbs. in 2011-12 and opened the year with a 4-2 showing at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open, but was injured and sat out the rest of the year. Junior Tyler Chesney (Roaring Spring, Pa.) will also get time on the mat in this weight class and at 149 lbs. Chesney, a former PIAA State Place-winner, filled-in for Coach Pecora’s Mountain Cats at both 141 and 149 lbs. in 2011-12. Along with wrestling in open tournaments, Chesney also took the mat in four dual meets. Freshmen in this weight class include 2012 PIAA AAA State Qualifier Sam Molina (Pittsburgh, Pa.), sectional place-winner Lucas Palamides (McMurray, Pa.), and Chad Burnosky (South Fork, Pa.).
149-lb. Weight Class
Bachman, who won the Super Region I title and placed eighth at the National Tournament at 141 lbs. as a red-shirt freshman in 2011, will move up a weight class to 149 lbs. this season. Bachman qualified for nationals for the second straight year after placing fourth at the regional tournament in 2011-12. He was 19-8 overall and 10-2 in dual meets. Bachman also finished fourth at the Wilkes Open and fifth at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open. In addition, Chesney and Cawley could also wrestle at 149 lbs., while sophomore Nick Katich (Louisville, OH) will look to earn spot time at 149 lbs. Katich went 7-5 with three falls as a red-shirt freshman. Freshman in this weight class include two-time PIAA AA State Place-winner (4th and 5th) Ty Dively (Sproul, Pa.), 2011 PA AAA Southwest Regional Runner-up Cody Mutkus (Hopewell, Pa.), and four-time PA sectional place-winner Jeremy Rivera (Elizabethtown, Pa.).
157-lb. Weight Class
After shuffling back-and-forth between 157 and 165 lbs. in 2011-12, sophomore Joel Paolo (Weirton, WV) will compete with red-shirt freshman Christian Bosco (Jeannette, Pa.). Paolo was 8-6 overall with seven wins coming by way of decision as a red-shirt freshman. He also placed third at the season-opening Washington and Jefferson Collegiate Open. Junior Chad Miller (Johnstown, Pa.), who could also wrestle at 165 lbs., and three-time PIAA AA State Qualifier Dylan Killian (Annville, Pa.) will also compete with for the starting spot. Miller was 6-4 with a pair of falls a year ago. Freshmen in this weight class include two-time PIAA AAA seventh-place finisher Dario Dobbin (Canonsburg, Pa.) and 2012 PIAA AA sixth-place finisher Cory Berchick (Hollsopple, Pa.).
165-lb. Weight Class
Senior Keith Ryan (Shirleysburg, Pa.) should battle either Paolo or Miller for the right to start at 165 lbs. after a 9-5 season with three falls a year ago. Freshmen in this weight class include 2012 PIAA AA sixth-place finisher John Blankenship (New Florence, Pa.), WPIAL Sectional Qualifier Cody Weinell (New Derry, Pa.), Gilchrist Myers (Leechburg, Pa.), and Justin Stonebraker (McKeesport, Pa.).
174-lb. Weight Class
Last year’s starters at 174 and 184 will flip-flop weight classes this year. Junior National Qualifier Gary Lantz (Delta, Pa.) will drop to 174 lbs. from 184 lbs. to battle fellow junior Logan Shirey (Fairmont City, Pa.) for the starting honors, while All-American Travis McKillop (Lower Burrell, Pa.) will go to 184 lbs. Lantz posted a 20-7 overall record and a 12-2 dual meet record on his way to winning a true-fourth-place match at the Super Region I Tournament to advance to his first National Tournament last season. Lantz also placed third at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open. Shirey, who helped the Mountain Cats at both 165 and 174 lbs. in 2011-12, was 11-6 overall and 4-3 in dual meets. Shirey finished third at the Wilkes Open at 174 lbs. Junior Johnny Walylko (Boswell, Pa.), who earned a fourth-place finish at the Washington & Jefferson Open, and sophomore Justin Harold (Leechburg, Pa.) will compete for mat time as well. Red-shirt freshmen Christian Bosco (Jeannette, Pa.) and Brian Gibbons (Buffalo Mills, Pa.) will make their Mountain Cat debuts.
184-lb. Weight Class
McKillop, who will move up a weight class this year, burst onto the scene as a true freshman last season. McKillop secured the starting job at 174 lbs., placed third at the Super Region I Tournament and became an All-American in his first season with a seventh-place finish at the National Tournament. He wrapped-up his freshman season with a 22-7 overall record and a 6-4 mark in dual meets with six falls. McKillop also won the title at the Washington and Jefferson Open and was the runner-up at the Wilkes Open. Senior Kevin Ryan (Shirleysburg, Pa.) and red-shirt freshman Nikos Garafola (Greensburg, Pa.) will also look for mat time in this weight class. Garafola, wrestling unattached, was the runner-up at the Washington & Jefferson Collegiate Open and a fourth-place finisher at the Wilkes Open.
197-lb. Weight Class
Three Mountain Cats will compete at 197 lbs. for the right to start. Three-year starter Jon Moore (Leechburg, Pa.) will not wrestle until the second semester. Until then, Zak Newton (Cresson, Pa.), who started early last year until an injury ended his season, and red-shirt sophomore Sean O’Connell (Farmington, CT) will battle for time on the mat. After joining the team in January a year ago, Moore, who finished second at the Wilkes Open, went 14-6 overall and 9-2 in dual meets. He placed fourth at the regional tournament to earn his first appearance at the National Tournament. Freshmen in this weight class include two-time PIAA AA State Place-winner (6th & 8th) Jordan Kitta (Hunker, Pa.) and 2010 PIAA AA State Runner-up Phillip Steinberg (Colver, Pa.).
Josh Krupa (Bedford, Pa.) returns to Coach Pecora’s line-up looking to take the next step in his collegiate wrestling career. Krupa took over the starting job last year and was 13-11 overall and 4-5 in dual meets. His six victories by fall tied for the team lead. Krupa wrestled at the Super Region I tournament, but did not place. Sophomore Zach Baker (Jeannette, Pa.) and true freshman Josh Duplin (Johnstown, Pa.) will push Krupa for wrestling time this season. Baker is a former PIAA State Qualifier who wrestled sparingly behind Krupa as a red-shirt freshman in 2011-12. Freshmen in this weight class include Duplin,a three-time PIAA AAA State Place-winner, and 2012 PIAA AA State Qualifier Jacob Krupa (Bedford, Pa.), Josh Krupa’s brother. Duplin was also the 2012 PA State runner-up after placing fifth the previous two seasons.
Coach Pecora knows his 2012-13 Mountain Cats will be a young squad, but the mix of experience and young talent could make it a special season. Only time will tell, but the future of Pitt-Johnstown wrestling looks bright for this year and in years to come.