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 he 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.
Pitt-Johnstown closes out the 2019-20 regular season and celebrate Senior Night with a PSAC match again Gannon on February 15.
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