USA Wrestling

Feb 14 Pitt-Johnstown's coach Pat Pecora gets his 500th win in Mountain Cats' 39-3 win at Shippensburg

By Christopher Caputo Pitt-Johnstown | Feb. 14, 2012, 11:48 a.m. (ET)
NCAA Division II wrestling history was made on Tuesday.

Pitt-Johnstown Head Coach Pat Pecora, who ranks sixth all-time in victories in all divisions, became the first wrestling coach in Division II history to reach the 500-win plateau when his eighth-ranked Mountain Cats earned a 39-3 victory at Shippensburg University. Pitt-Johnstown closed out the regular season with a 12-3 record.

The Mountain Cats won the first five bouts to race out to an 18-0 lead.

At 125 lbs., Dave Fogle (Summerhill, Pa.) won an 8-0 major decision over Colton Keck to get things started. Third-ranked Ryan Link(Cresson, Pa.) then defeated Cody Myers 6-2 at 133 lbs., before fifth-ranked Jack Bachman (Greensburg, Pa.) used three minutes of riding time to hold off Simon Rice, 3-2, at 141 lbs. and put Pitt-Johnstown up 10-0.

Pitt-Johnstown continued to build on its lead with baack-to-back major decision wins at 149 lbs. and 157 lbs. Nathan Link (Cresson, Pa.) defeated Ean Starner, 10-2, and Zach Lundgren (DuBois, Pa.) scored an 11-3 victory over James Reilley to extend it to 18-0 midway through the match.

Shippensburg got on the scoreboard and cut the deficit to 18-3 at 165 lbs. with Neal Grudi's 9-2 decision over Myers Miller (Bolivar, Pa.).

However, the Mountain Cats quickly regained control. In a battle of two of the top-ranked wrestlers in the region, fifth-ranked Travis McKillop (Lower Burrell, Pa.) upset second-ranked Luke Etter, 7-1, to put Pitt-Johnstown up 18 with three bouts left.

The Mountain Cats sealed Coach Pecora's milestone victory in style when NCAA seventh-ranked Gary Lantz (Delta, Pa.) pinned Tyler Zittle at 5:28 at 184 lbs. to put the match out of reach at 27-3.

Pitt-Johnstown closed out the night with a fall from Jon Moore (Leechburg, Pa.) over Keith Dahlheimer at 197 lbs., before Josh Krupa (Bedford, Pa.) won by injury default at heavyweight to set the final at 39-3.

Pat Pecora, who also doubles as Pitt-Johnstown's Athletic Director, took over the Mountain Cat wrestling program in 1976. In 36 years, his teams have captured 20 NCAA Regional Championships, including five straight from 2003 through 2007 and ten in a row from 1992 through 2001. Coach Pecora has been selected as the NCAA Regional "Coach of the Year" 14 times.

His Mountain Cat squads have finished in the Top-20 in the nation 28 times and have combined to win 48 team tournaments and 500 dual meets. Coach Pecora has tutored 129 All-Americans and 10 individual national champions. Academically, his teams led the nation in NWCA All-Academic Wrestling Team selections from 1997 through 2000. Since 1990, Coach Pecora has coached 90 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, Coach 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. Coach Pecora also coached the National All-Star Team, which showcased the best wrestlers in the nation from all divisions.

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 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 addition, Coach Pecora earned the 2008 United States Marine Corps Excellence in Leadership Award.

The Mountain Cats travel to the 2012 Super Region I Tournament at UNC-Pembroke on February 24-25, before going to the University of Colorado-Pueblo for the 2012 NCAA Division II National Tournament on March 9-10.

PITT-JOHNSTOWN 39, SHIPPENSBURG 3
125 - Dave Fogle (UPJ) Major Decision Colton Keck (SU) 8-0 4-0 UPJ
133 - #6 Ryan Link (UPJ) Decision Cody Myers (SU) 6-2 7-0 UPJ
141 - #5 Jack Bachman (UPJ) Decision Simon Rice (SU) 3-2 10-0 UPJ
149 - Nathan Link (UPJ) Major Decision Ean Starner (SU) 10-2 14-0 UPJ
157 - Zach Lundgren (UPJ) Major Decision James Reilley (SU) 11-3 18-0 UPJ
165 - Neal Grudi (SU) Decision Myers Miller (UPJ) 9-2 18-3 UPJ
174 - Travis McKillop (UPJ) Decision Luke Etter (SU) 7-1 21-3 UPJ
184 - #7 Gary Lantz (UPJ) Fall Tyler Zittle (SU) 5:28 27-3 UPJ
197 - Jon Moore (UPJ) Fall Keith Dahlheimer (SU) 3:08 33-3 UPJ
HWT. - Josh Krupa (UPJ) Injury Default Daniel Estricher (SU) 39-3 UPJ


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