Two NCAA champs, one Pennsylvania champion and seven state place winners lead the 2019-20 Pitt-Johnstown wrestling recruiting class.
Coach Pat Pecora and the Mountain Cat wrestling program have added 19 new wrestlers, including a pair of NCAA Division II national champions and seven total state qualifiers for the 2019-20 season.
Last year’s NCAA Division II national champions Tyler Warner and Connor Craig both transferred to Pitt-Johnstown from Wheeling Jesuit after leading the Cardinals to a runner-up national finish. Warner, a redshirt junior, posted a 25-1 overall record and defeated Nebraska-Kearney’s Wesley Dawkins 4-1 to win his title at 133 pounds.
Warner was 53-10 in two seasons at Wheeling Jesuit. Craig won the 174 pound national championship with a 6-2 decision over McKendree’s Nick Foster. Craig, also a junior, was 28-1 in 2018-19 and 54-9 in his two-year career at Wheeling Jesuit.
Hopewell’s Jacob Ealy, a 2019 PIAA Class AA champion at 138, and four local graduates lead this year’s crop of high school recruits.
North Star product Hunter Tremain, who finished fourth at 195 in PIAA Class AA last March, headlines a local cast made up of Forest Hills’ Byron Daubert (126-43 record, 126 pounds), Greater Johnstown’s Brock Moore (62-27, 145) and Penn Cambria’s Chase Proudfit (115-58, 126).
“As always, in every recruiting class, I look for two things,” Pecora said. “First, recruit athletes who make an immediate impact on the program, and second, recruit athletes who can contribute in the future. I feel this recruiting class does both.”
Ealy posted a 137-21 career record. He finished fifth in 2018 and recorded a 42-2 record in 2019.
Tremain compiled a 141-32 mark at North Star, including a 43-6 record as a senior.
Five other former PIAA place winners join this year’s class: Canon-McMillan’s Kenny Hayman, Valley’s Noah Hutcherson, Bradford’s Dillon Keane, West Allegheny’s Ty McGeary and Curwensville’s Blake Passarelli.
Hayman, who went 42-13 as a senior, reached the PIAA Class AAA semifinals at 126 in 2019, before placing fourth.
Hutcherson, who wrestled at 170, also reached the PIAA Class AA semifinals before placing fifth.
Keane, the nephew of former Pitt-Johnstown All-American Kyle Keane, won the Northwest Regional title before earning a PIAA seventh-place finish at 170. Keane closed out his career at 112-20.
McGeary (160) placed sixth at the 2018 PIAA Class AAA tournament and wrapped up his career at 129-39. Passarelli (115-35, 126) finished eighth at the 2018 PIAA Class AA tournament and qualified for the state tournament in 2019.
Five others were Pennsylvania state tournament qualifiers, including Greater Latrobe’s Marino Angelicchio (59-22 record, 113 pounds), Chambersburg’s Cole Grove (100-52, 126), Neshaminy’s Colton Jordan (113-32, 126), Brashear’s Joe Mwete (87-44, 157) and Thomas Jefferson’s Alex Weber (108-30, 152).
Greensburg Salem’s Dajauhn Hertzog (77-43, 138) and Sage Parsley (41-30, 152) round out the class.
The Mountain Cats are coming off of a 16-3 overall dual meet season, and a 6-1 mark on their way to winning their fourth consecutive Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) dual meet championship.
Pitt-Johnstown claimed its 22nd NCAA Super Region I Tournament title last year and sent seven wrestlers to the 2019 NCAA Division II Tournament in Cleveland. Pitt-Johnstown placed sixth with five All-Americans, including Chris Eddins (149), who won his second consecutive national title. Along with Eddins, Devin Austin (165) placed third, Joey Alessandro (141) placed fifth, Brock Biddle (184) placed fourth and Brendan Howard (125) placed eighth.
In addition, Coach Pecora won his third National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Coach of the Year Award and his 18th Regional Coach of the Year Award. Eddins earned Super Region I Wrestler of the Year honors, and Biddle was named the PSAC and Regional Wrestling Freshman of the Year.