WAYNESBURG, Pa. -- Trailing by 11 team points heading into the third round of the 2014 Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) Wrestling Championships, Waynesburg University knew it still controlled its own fate when it came to a second-straight team title. In front of their home crowd at the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse, the Yellow Jackets saved their best wrestling for last as they won five out of their seven matches in the third and final round of the event to come back and defeat Thiel and Washington & Jefferson for the program's fourth PAC title.
The Yellow Jackets scored 108 team points, which bested second-place Thiel (93.5 points) and third-place Washington & Jefferson (78.5). The Jackets have now won four of the last five conference team titles.
The Tomcats went into round three with a 72-61 edge over the host Jackets, but Thiel failed to win the championship at 125 pounds, which was won by W&J's Jacob Spearman. That brought up the 133-pound championship match, which pitted Waynesburg freshman Filippo Crivelli against Thiel sophomore Nick Sutton. The two grapplers had split their two previous meetings, but Crivelli won the rubber match by coming back from an early deficit to down Sutton 4-3 and snag his first PAC title, which cut his team's deficit to just one point.
Waynesburg and Thiel met up again in the 141-pound title contest as junior Jake Vitolo of the host team faced off with freshman Robert Ritschard. Ritschard boasted a 4-0 mark against the Jacket junior during the regular season, but once again, fortunes turned in Waynesburg's favor as Vitolo earned his first conference crown with a 4-2 decision that gave the Jackets the lead back at 81-72.
Following a pair of thrilling wins, the Jackets picked up a dominant victory at 149 pounds courtesy of returning All-American Luke Lohr. The senior faced off with W&J sophomore Trevor Meyers and controlled the bout throughout en route to pinning his younger opponent in 5:12. After recording three-straight championships, the host team held a 93-72 advantage in the team standings.
The Jackets' winning streak ended at 157 pounds, but with Waynesburg losing to a W&J wrestler, and the Presidents picking up a win over a Tomcat representative at 165 pounds, the Orange and Black maintained its 19-point lead. Thiel crowned its first individual champion at 174 pounds and pulled to within nine points at 93-82. However, with Waynesburg senior Cameron Fine waiting at 184 pounds, the Jackets had a chance to wrap up the team title.
Fine squared off with W&J senior David Dibenedetto for the first time this year and used an early takedown to fuel a 4-1 victory that gave the Orange and Black four more team points that officially clinched the championship for Waynesburg at 97-82. Despite taking the loss, Dibenedetto took home the individual championship on tie-breaker points. Fine, Dibenedetto and Thiel's Jerrold Roosa all went 1-1 on the night.
After the Tomcats picked up their second title at 197 pounds, Waynesburg sophomore heavyweight Greg Kumer wrapped up the Jackets' team triumph in style by earning an 8-0 major decision over the Presidents' Nick Kumburis. Kumer's biggest win of the night came in the opening round when he avenged two regular season losses to Thiel sophomore Blake Heim by scoring a 4-2 overtime victory over the Tomcat big man.
Junior Sam Guidi (165), senior Anthony Bonaventura (174) and junior Patrick Jennings (197) also picked up crucial victories on the night to place second in their respective weight classes. Following Kumer's win at heavyweight, Waynesburg head coach Ron Headlee won his fourth PAC Coach of the Year Award over his six years at the helm of the Jackets. Thiel junior 197-pounder Jake Lowry was named Most Outstanding Wrestler.
The Jacket mat men return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 19, when they travel to Division II Alderson Broaddus for a dual match with the Battlers. Start time is scheduled for 7 p.m.