NEWBERRY, S.C. —
Westmont Hilltop graduate Josh Duplin’s victory at heavyweight helped the Pitt-Johnstown wrestling team upset No. 4-ranked Newberry (S.C.) College in the Super Region I Duals on Friday.
The 11th-ranked Mountain Cats won 21-14.
UPJ improved to 8-2 and won its seventh consecutive dual meet in front of a large, partisan crowd in Newberry’s home gym.
“A great win,” UPJ coach Pat Pecora said. “It’s been coming. This team has been inching along.
“We hadn’t beaten them in five years,” he added. “They’re ranked (fourth) in the country.”
Pecora said the atmosphere resembled that of a March tournament at the national level.
“It was rocking. The place was packed,” Pecora said. “All the other matches were done and everybody was circling around the mat to watch this one.”
Mountain Cats’ 141-pounder Dave Cawley recorded a big pin that gave UPJ a 12-0 advantage, then Duplin’s late heroics in a 3-2 decision sealed the victory.
“We’ve been talking to them all week telling them they had an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done for a while,” Pecora said. “They took advantage of the opportunity and got the job done.”
Penn Cambria’s Evan Link set the tone by upsetting fourth-ranked Jeff Vesta with a convincing 9-4 decision at 125 pounds. Eighth-ranked Forest Hills graduate Dave Fogle scored a 9-3 decision over Nicholas Lankford at 133 pounds to make it 6-0.
“Evan had a great match, a great job, and David Fogle, that was a tough match,” Pecora said.
Cawley pinned fifth-ranked 141-pounder B.J. Young at 1:26 to provide a double-digit lead.
“Dave Cawley was wrestling a two-time national runner-up and was losing 2-0,” Pecora said. “He hit a reversal and stuck the kid right on his back. He was flat as a board. That was huge. That was the match that turned it.”
Newberry cut its deficit to four with back-to-back major decisions from eighth-ranked Derel Brown at 149 pounds and fourth-ranked Taylor Knapp at 157. But the Mountain Cats rebuilt the lead to 15-8 when Keith Ryan used a third-period takedown and riding time to knock off fifth-ranked Blake Ridenour, 6-3, in the 165-pound bout.
After the Wolves got a 10-5 decision by Travis Sheehy over Gary Lantz at 174, eighth-ranked 184-pounder Travis McKillop defeated Mitch Brown, 8-1, to put Pitt-Johnstown in front 18-11.
Newberry wasn’t done yet. The Wolves made it 18-14 when Joe Grisco held off Nikos Garafola 12-8 at 197.
It was up to Mountain Cats’ freshman heavyweight Duplin, who beat Robert Wade by a point to secure the team victory. The score was tied 2-all in the third period. Duplin rode out Wade for the extra point.
“It came down to heavyweight,” Pecora said. “ ‘Big Dup,’ he did it. He’s been in a couple situations already as a true freshman with the match on the line. I told him he is going to win his share of these.”
Newberry is 12-2.
The Mountain Cats wrap up the Super Region I Duals with three matches today, and then travel to Mercyhurst College on Friday.
Pitt-Johnstown will return home to host three straight duals meets beginning with Seton Hill University on Feb. 6 in the Sports Center.
“We have to get back to work,” Pecora said.
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