Wrestlers start season ranked eighth

Bobby Scott, Sports Editor

The Pitt-Johnstown wrestling team is once again expected to be contention for the Division II wrestling national championship by the time March comes around, at least by the nation’s coaches.

The Mountain Cats are ranked eighth in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll that was released Oct. 24.

Not only was the team ranked, but so were some individuals.  Dave Fogle (125 pounds), Dave Cawley (141 pounds), Travis McKillop (184 pounds) and Josh Duplin (285 pounds) have been ranked in their weight class.

“Rankings do not mean anything to any of us,” McKillop said.

“They are cool to see our hard work paying off, but at the end of the day, everone puts on their shoes one foot at a time and straps their headgear the same way, so anyone can beat anyone.”

McKillop is a junior, a captain and a two-time All-American and has lost in the national semifinal in his weight class two years in a row.

“I have almost been (in the championship) for two years now, so anything less than a national title is unacceptable,” he said.

“As for the team, our seniors deserve a regional title and that is what we are working for.”

The team came close to a regional title last season as they finished in second place and earned a spot in the national championships and finished in 14th place.

Seniors have experienced two second place finishes in regionals the past two seasons.

Senior Captain Gary Lantz has placed fourth in the super regional tournament twice in his weight class and had the second best individual record on the team last year going 25-7.

Lantz said that he is dropping down to the 165 pound weight class after starting out his college career at 165 lbs. to 184 lbs. his sophomore year and wrestled at 174 lbs. his junior year.

He also said that the team has a chip on their shoulder after finishing second at regionals the past two years.

“The same team has beat us the past four years (Newberry (S.C.) College),” Lantz said.

Lantz said that he is looking to finish in the top three at nationals come year’s end.

“Being able to finish in the top three in the nation, I would be ok with never wrestling again,” he said.