It was a historic night in front of a large Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center crowd on Friday. Pitt-Johnstown wrestling Coach Pat Pecora earned his 617th career win and snapped a 46-year-old record to become college wrestling's all-time winningest coach when his fourth-ranked Mountain Cats dealt 11th-ranked Mercyhurst a 22-12 Alumni Night setback. Pitt-Johnstown improved to 20-3 overall and 6-0 in the PSAC.
Fifth-ranked Connor Craig's major decision over Trever Begin in the 184-lb. match put the Mountain Cats on top by 16 with just two bouts remaining to seal the historic victory.
Pecora broke Dale Thomas' all-time wins record among coaches in all divisions, including NCAA Divisions I, II, and III, NAIA, and Junior College. Thomas surpassed Kent State Coach Joe Beglia's 284 victories in 1974 to take over as the all-time wins leader. Thomas, who coached from 1956-1990, ended his career with a 616-168-13 overall record. In his 44th season at Pitt-Johnstown, Pecora is 617-151-5.
"Pitt-Johnstown congratulates our legendary wrestling Coach, Pat Pecora, for a historic achievement - the all-time winningest NCAA coach! We are enormously proud of this monumental accomplishment, which stands as a testament to his great work ethic, inspirational leadership, spirited enthusiasm, and love for his wrestling teams and UPJ. It is only fitting that the record that had stood for decades was shattered here in Johnstown, PA – a place that symbolizes the grit, hardiness, courage, and resilience of Coach P., his champion wrestlers, and our entire community. Coach P.'s victory reminds us that this place is the home of champions, past, present, and future," said Dr. Jem Spectar, President of Pitt-Johnstown.
Fourth-ranked Brendan Howard gave the Mountain Cats a quick 3-0 lead with a 10-4 decision over Jacob Ruggeri at 125 lbs., but eighth-ranked Eric Bartos held off Matt Siszka, 5-2, at 133 to tie it.
Pitt-Johnstown regained the lead with Jacob Ealy's 3-1 decision over 2019 All-American Alexis Soriano that started a streak of three consecutive Mountain Cat wins.
Top-ranked and two-time National Champion Chris Eddins picked-up his 99th career win when he dealt Alex Samson a 10-2 major decision loss at 149 lbs. to make it 10-3, and Nate Smith got a late take down to secure a 9-1 major decision victory over Michael Clark at 157 lbs. that increased the lead to 14-3.
In a battle of a pair of ranked wrestles at 165 lbs., Mercyhurst fifth-ranked Logan Grass snapped the three-match losing streak with a 5-4 win over fourth-ranked Devin Austin.
Pitt-Johnstown bounced right back with a pair of major decisions. Sixth-ranked Brock Biddle defeated Nick Konyk, 10-1, at 174 lbs., and Craig, a 2019 NCAA National Champion, sealed the match with his 8-0 victory.
With the match already decided, Mercyhurst got a 10-4 decision win at 197 lbs. from eighth-ranked Luke McGonigal and a 6-3 decision by No. 3 Jake Robb at 285 lbs. to close it out and set the final at 22-13.
The Lakers are now 10-4 overall and 4-2 in the PSAC.
|125 lbs.||#4 Brendan Howard (UPJ)||Decision||Jacob Ruggeri (MU)||10-4||3-0 UPJ|
|133 lbs.||#8 Eric Bartos (MU)||Decision||Matt Siszka (UPJ)||6-2||3-3 TIE|
|141 lbs.||Jacob Ealy (UPJ)||Decision||Alexis Soriano (MU)||3-1||6-3 UPJ|
|149 lbs.||#1 Chris Eddins (UPJ)||Major Decision||Alex Samson (UPJ)||10-2||10-3 UPJ|
|157 lbs.||Nate Smith (UPJ)||Major Decision||Michael Clark (MU)||9-1||13-3 UPJ|
|165 lbs.||#4 Logan Grass (UPJ)||Decision||#4 Devin Austin (UPJ)||5-4||13-6 MU|
|174 lbs.||#6 Brock Biddle (UPJ)||Major Decision||Nick Konyk (MU)||10-1||17-6 UPJ|
|184 lbs.||#5 Connor Craig (UPJ)||Major Decision||Trever Begin (MU)||8-0||22-6 UPJ|
|197 lbs.||#8 Luke McGonigal (MU)||Decision||Alex Delp (UPJ)||10-4||22-9 UPJ|
|285 lbs.||#3 Jake Robb (MU)||Decision||Allan Beattie (UPJ)||6-3||22-12 UPJ|
PAT PECORA BIO
Pecora, the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Coach of the Year in 1995, 1999, and 2019 has led his Mountain Cats to 617 dual meet victories, 22 NCAA Regional titles, and four straight PSAC Championships.
In his 44th season, Pecora has posted a 617-151-5 overall record.
Pecora, who also doubles as Pitt-Johnstown's Athletic Director since July 2008, took over the Mountain Cat wrestling program in 1976.
Pecora has guided his team to all 22 NCAA Regional Championships, including five straight from 2003 through 2007 and ten in a row from 1992 through 2001.
His Mountain Cat squads have won a pair of NCAA Division II National Championships, and have 35 Top-20 national finishes, 23 Top-10 finishes, and 11 Top-5 finishes. They have combined to win 40 team tournaments and 617 dual meets.
Pecora has tutored 154 All-Americans and 14 individual national champions who have combined for 22 titles. Academically, his teams led the nation in NWCA All-Academic Wrestling Team selections from 1997 through 2000. Since 1990, Pecora has coached well over 100 NWCA All-Academic Wrestling Team members.
In 1996 and 1999, his teams captured the NCAA Division II National Championship, the first and second in school history. In 1995 and 1999, Pecora was named NCAA Division II National "Coach of the Year." Also in 1999, he received the National Wrestling Coaches Association Coaching Excellence Award, given to the best coach in all divisions. Pecora also coached the National All-Star Team, which showcased the best wrestlers in the nation from all divisions.
Pecora, a member of the NWCA Board of Directors, was also the president of that organization for two terms.
In 1994, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame-East Boro Chapter, and in 1998, he was inducted into both the Cambria County Sports and the West Liberty State (W.Va.) College Halls of Fame. In March 2001, Coach Pecora was inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame, and, in 2003, he earned induction into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame. In April 2015, he earned induction into the Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame and in April 2016, he joined the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. In April 2017, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.