NCAA Wrestling: Pitt-Johnstown claims first regional title since 2007
After sending eight wrestlers into Saturday's semifinals, Pitt-Johnstown kept it going at Saturday's 2016 NCAA Division II Super Region I Tournament in Erie. The Mountain Cats came away with a pair of champions to pull away from second-place Notre Dame (Ohio) and claim the program's 21st Regional Championship, and the first since 2007.
Pitt-Johnstown finished with 155.5 team points, 12.5 points better than second-place Notre Dame's 143.0. Mercyhurst finished third with 109.0 points, while Wheeling Jesuit (83.0 pts.) and Kutztown (79.9 pts.) rounded out the top five teams in the 15-team field.
Nine out of the 10 Pitt-Johnstown wrestlers placed in the top-four to advance to the Division II National Championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on March 11-12, including Evan Link (125 lbs.) and Nick Roberts (133 lbs.) who won individual titles.
Tyler Reinhart (165 lbs.), John Blankenship (174 lbs.), and Travis McKillop (184 lbs.) all placed second, while Sam Hanau (141 lbs.) Devin Austin (157 lbs.), Jacob Hart (197 lbs.), and D.J. Sims (285 lbs.) finished third.
Travis Shaffer (149 lbs.) placed fifth for Pitt-Johnstown after losing in a true-fourth-place match..
At 125 lbs., second-seeded Link held on for a 2-1 victory over third-seeded Dustin Warner (Wheeling Jesuit) in his semifinal bout to reach the finals against top-seeded Willie Bohince (Mercyhurst). In the finals, Link raced out to an 8-2 lead after the first period and won an 11-2 major decision.
Top-ranked Roberts coasted into the semifinals at 133 lbs. where he won a 10-3 decision over fourth-ranked Nolan Whitely (Wheeling Jesuit). Roberts went on to pad Pitt-Johnstown's lead with a 14-0 major decision over Notre Dame's David Bavery to claim the title.
Reinhart, the top-seeded wrestler at 165 lbs., downed fourth-seeded Juwan Edmond (Notre Dame), 4-2, in the semifinals to meet No. 1-seeded Francis Mizia (Mercyhurst) in the title bout. Mizia battled back from an early deficit to tie it at five, and used a takedown with 19 seconds remaining in the first overtime to defeat Reinhart, 7-5.
Second-seeded Blankenship received an opening round bye at 174 lbs., before securing a 12-6 decision over Kutztown's Joseph Balboni to advance to the semifinals to wrestle Gannon's sixth-seeded Christopher Matthews. In the semis, Blankenship shut out Gannon's Christopher Matthews, 3-0, but lost a 9-3 decision to No.1 seeded August Mizia (Mercyhurst) in the championship match.
McKillop, the No. 2 ranked wrester in the country and the second seed at 184 lbs. rolled his way into the finals to set up a match-up with No. 1-ranked Joey Davis from Notre Dame. Davis, who has never lost a collegiate match, remained unbeaten by defeating McKillop, 4-2 in the title bout. The loss was McKillop's first of the season.
Austin won by decision over Sam Phillips (Ohio Valley) and sixth-seeded Michael Griffith (Mercyhurst) to go to the semifinals, but suffered a tough 5-3 loss to Kutztown's Matt Martoccio and dropped down to the consolation semifinals. An 11-2 major decision over Douglas Mele (Millersville) put Austin into the third-place match, where he won a 5-3 decision over Shippensburg's Adam Martz.
Hart defeated Millersville's Colton Dull, 7-1, to open the tournament, before scoring a 4-2 win over Wheeling Jesuit's fourth-seeded Terrance Fanning at 197 lbs. However, Notre Dame's No.1-seeded Garrett Lineberger slipped by Hart, 2-1 in the semifinals, sending Hart to the Consolation semifinals. Hart responded with a 5-2 decision over Seton Hill's Jake Temple to reach the Third-Place Match where he pinned Kutztown's Brandan Clark at 3:13.
At 285 lbs., Sims, the top seed, dealt American International's Soslan Khamitcaev a 13-2 major decision loss in the first round and followed that up by pinning eighth-seeded Logan Rimmer (Notre Dame) at 6:14 in the quarterfinals. In the semis, fourth-seeded Ryan Appleby (Kutztown) built a 6-3 lead and defeated Sims, 7-6. Sims then pinned Tyson Searer (East Stroudsburg) at :49 and won an 8-3 decision over Wheeling Jesuit's Logan Bowman to place third.
Hanau, the No. 2 seed at 141 lbs. suffered a second-round loss, but stormed back to win four straight matches to place third. Hanau secured third-place by pinning Gannon's John Marotto 2:29 into the first period.
Fifth-seeded Shaffer was pinned by Kutztown's Joe Esposito in his opening round bout at 149 lbs., but responded with two straight wins to stay alive. In the third-place match, Shaffer was pinned by Dominic Nania (Wheeling Jesuit) at 5:28 forcing him to wrestle a true fourth-place match against Seton Hill's Ty Lydic. Lydic pinned Shaffer at 1:59 to claim the fourth national qualifying spot at 149 lbs.