Unbeaten Pitt-Johnstown upends Glenville State

Jan. 22—Dual meet victory No. 642 might not have been his team's best performance, but the winningest coach in college wrestling history knows not to complain about a win.

"You can never be displeased with a W, overall," Pitt-Johnstown's Pat Pecora said Saturday night after his ninth-ranked team improved to 11-0 by beating No. 18 Glenville State 27-12. "I wasn't really pleased with every individual match."

He also wasn't thrilled that Glenville State's top wrestler, third-ranked Jared Campbell, sat out the dual. That prevented fifth-ranked Isaiah Vance, who lost to Campbell in overtime this past month, from getting a rematch. Pioneers coach Dylan Cottrell said it wasn't an effort to preserve Campbell's NCAA seed.

"A lot of our guys have been fighting the flu and getting in and out," Cottrell said. "We decided we were going to wrestle Campbell, even though several of our guys have been sick, against West Liberty on Thursday, because it makes sense for us, it's our conference. If it wouldn't have been for conference seeding, he wouldn't have wrestled Thursday either."

Instead Vance beat backup Gavin Shamblin 5-3. Shamblin briefly tied the match at 3 with a third-period takedown, but Vance quickly reversed him and held on for the victory.

"I was hoping they'd put their other one out," Pecora said of the Pioneers heavyweights. "That's what we wanted. He's ranked ahead of Isaiah. You never know how coaches feel about that stuff."

Pitt-Johnstown (11-0) also didn't get to see its top wrestler, No. 1-ranked Jacob Ealy in action, as the Pioneers (15-7) forfeited 149 pounds. Rather than boosting, the forfeit seemed to sap the Mountain Cats and their fans of energy.

"The forfeit at '49 doesn't help us at all. At all," Pecora said. "He's going to tech fall or pin somebody that's not ranked. Getting a forfeit is almost to their benefit."

Leading 16-6 at that point, Pitt-Johnstown's Nate Smith scored a quick takedown over Tristan Pugh, a Shanksville-Stonycreek graduate who had quite a few fans on hand at the Sports Center. Pugh escaped and, after trading escapes in the second and third periods, stayed within a point of the Mountain Cat All-American, but Smith scored a takedown with 31 seconds remaining and added a riding-time point to make it 6-2.

"Nate came out and, boom, got a takedown in seconds and then kind of shut down a little bit," Pecora said. "I felt like we could have gotten more out of him."

Cottrell said Pugh is beginning to round into shape.

"I thought it was one of his better performances of the year," Cottrell said. "His weight cut has been a problem, but he hasn't wrestled that much. He had pneumonia and was out for almost two months."

Dillon Keane, who is ranked 10th nationally, rallied to beat Gaetano DeLeonardis at 165 pounds. The Glenville State wrestler scored a late takedown in the first period, but Keane took the lead in the second with an escape and a takedown of his own. Keane controlled DeLeonardis for the entire third period to pick up a riding-time point and the 4-2 victory.

"That was a hard match," Pecora said. "To come back and beat that kid, I was impressed. That kid was tough."

Glenville State won the next two matches. No. 10 Hunter DeLong scored three takedowns in a 7-4 victory over Alex Weber at 174, and eighth-ranked Cole Houser avenged a loss to No. 7 Brock Biddle in the Midwest Classic by racking up four takedowns in a convincing 9-3 victory.

The Mountain Cats started the dual well. Trevon Gray scored five takedowns — including one in the final 30 seconds of each period — in a 14-6 major decision over Devin Easton at 125 pounds.

"Trevon did a nice job," Pecora said. "Getting a four-pointer there was good."

Glenville State took a short-lived lead with Gavin Quiocho's fall over Dajauhn Hertzog at 133.

Caleb Morris put Pitt-Johnstown back in front with an 8-2 victory over Ethan Hardy at 141.

The dual was Pitt-Johnstown's third straight against a ranked team. The Mountain Cats won 24 out of 30 bouts in those duals but, incredibly, dropped two spots in the NWCA Coaches Poll. That's five spots behind West Liberty, which Pitt-Johnstown beat 28-9 earlier in the season and which Glenville State upset on Thursday. That's because the poll looks at a team's potential finish at the NCAA tournament as opposed to its dual meet strength. The Mountain Cats are up to No. 2 in The Open Mat's dual meet rankings.

Pecora doesn't worry about such things. Instead, he's concerned with stacking wins, even if he was disappointed in some results on Saturday.

"You can't be too upset," Pecora said. "It's a tough schedule. We're wrestling tough teams, week in and week out. And having two in one week is tough. But, overall, I'm pleased with the win. We had a lot of nice individual performances (and) a couple of individual performances where we want to do better. These guys know."