For The Tribune-Democrat
Redshirt freshman Jack Bachman (141 pounds) and senior Chris Dempsey (heavyweight) each won individual titles to lead a group of seven Pitt-Johnstown wrestlers who earned a trip to the nationals at this weekend’s Super Region I tournament at Gannon University.
As a team, UPJ finished second behind Newberry College in Saturday’s final round.
Bachman scored a 3-2 decision over top-seeded Derel Brown of Newberry in the title bout at 141 while Dempsey repeated as regional champion with a 3-1 win over second-seeded Jake Elkins of Newberry in the championship match at heavyweight.
“Overall it was a solid performance,” Pitt-Johnstown coach Pat Pecora said.
“We have seven guys going to nationals with two champions. It’s a very tough tournament, it’s a meat grinder.
“We wrestled above a lot of our seeds.
“Overall it was a good performance.
“We have seven guys going to nationals and we’re happy about that.”
Top-seeded Ryan Link of Cresson and second-seeded A.J. Brentzel (184) both finished second.
Link suffered a 3-2 loss to third-seeded Austin Williams at 133, and Brentzel fell 2-1 to top-ranked Bryant Blantion of Newberry.
Three other Mountain Cats also advanced to the national tournament.
Nathan Link (149) of Cresson and Zach Lundgren (157) placed third.
Link defeated third-seeded Brendon Parker-Risk 8-5 in a fourth-place match, and Lundgren followed with a 9-3 decision over No. 3 seed Seth Phalen of West Liberty at 157.
Steve Makin of Portage rounded out the national qualifiers with a fourth-place finish at 174 after falling to second-seeded Trevor Sanford of Anderson 5-3.
Gary Lantz placed fifth at 165. Lantz had a chance to advance to nationals, but suffered a 3-2 loss to Jarrod Shaw of West Liberty in the true-fourth match.
Dave Fogle (125) of Summerhill and Jon Moore (197) of Leechburg both wrestled at the regional tournament, but did not place.
Newberry won the team title with 135 points.
UPJ scored 115 while Gannon (84.5), Mercyhurst (75) and Kutztown (73) rounded out the top five in the 13-team field.
UPJ will wrap up its season at the NCAA Division II National Tournament March 11 and 12 at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.