Individual champions finish off season


Sarah Francowic

University President Jem Spectar declared the week of March 14 Pitt-Johnstown wrestling week to head wrestling coach Pat Pecora and the team during the celebration March 14.

Emily Moore, Staff Writer

University President Jem Spectar declared the week of March 14-18 wrestling week on the Pitt-Johnstown campus. The wrestling team placed fourth at the Division II National Championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Coach Pat Pecora, through all of his championships and titles throughout the years since he started as a coach at UPJ in 1976, has added another placement in the Division II National Championships, and produced two more national champions.

“Overall, this season was very good; it was special,” Pecora said.

The Mountain Cats went 15-1 in dual meets, beat a Division I team at Madison Square Garden in New York City and placed third at the Midwest Classic in Indianapolis, Indiana.

They also won the Pennsylvannia State Athletic Conference championship, won the Atlantic Regional Championship for the first time and produced two individual national champions.

Junior 133-pound Nick Roberts and 165-pound redshirt sophomore Tyler Reinhart each won a national championship, 184-pound senior Travis McKillop claimed a national champion runner-up and 141-pound senior Sam Hanau became All-American by placing sixth.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to claim an All-American finish,” Hanau said.

“I put myself in the history books here at Pitt-Johnstown.”

According to Pecora, March 11 was a tough day for them.

“We rebounded well on March 12 with two guys in the finals,” Pecora said.

“The only thing that could have been better would have been actually winning …we were so close.”

At the conclusion of the tournament, McKillop earned the Most Dominant Wrestler in Division II Award.

McKillop reached the finals to face Notre Dame’s (Ohio) three-time national champion Joey Davis, who has never lost a collegiate match having faced McKillop once before at regionals.

According to Pecora,  his wrestlers that will return next season will be putting in a lot of work over the summer and fall.

“It all starts now … it will all fall into place, like the stars,” Pecora said.

“Stars have to align for something special to happen, and our alignment is so close.”

Three wrestlers also earned a spot on the 2015-16 National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division II All-Academic Wrestling First-Team when this years teams were released March 16.

Senior McKillop; a four time All-American with seventh, third and a pair of runner-up finishes, is also a three-time All-Academic selection.

Junior John Blankenship, an Honorable Mention All-Academic Team selection as a redshirt freshman in 2014, earned spots on the First Team the last two seasons.

Redshirt sophomore D.J. Sims, a sophomore two-time National Qualifier, is a First-Team All-Academic Team selection in 2016 and was a Second-Team choice last year.