There are those who will tell you that the economy has taken a hard fall in central Pennsylvania, particularly in the Johnstown area.
Maybe that's so, but the hardest falls, year after year, are encountered by visiting wrestling teams at Pitt-Johnstown.
UPJ is annually one of the top Division II wrestling programs in the nation. Ashland has wrestled the Mountain Cats nearly every year and in the last few years, has gone toe-to-toe with this perennial power. Fifth-year head coach Tim Dernlan has led Ashland to one win at UPJ. Before he arrived, Ashland had never won at UPJ.
Unfortunately for Dernlan and the Eagles, their second victory in central Pennsylvania didn't come on Friday (Jan. 18). The Eagles, ranked 16th in the country, lost a 33-10 verdict to 11th-ranked Pitt-Johnstown at UPJ.
As usual, the Eagles got two quality performances at 125 and 133 pounds. At 125, sophomore Max Byrd (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) raised his record to 16-3 with a 3-0 win over Evan Link. Byrd is ranked eighth in the nation.
Freshman Michael Labry (Twinsburg, Ohio) followed Byrd with a 10-2 major decision over Dave Fogle at 133 pounds. Labry is ranked fourth in the nation and is 22-0. Fogle is ranked eighth in the nation.
After those two wins, AU (6-4) was in front, 7-0. The Mountain Cats regrouped and won the next six bouts. That stretch included two pins, a major decision and a technical fall. AU didn't record another win under sophomore Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio), ranked third in the country, took an 8-3 decision from Nikos Garafola at 197 pounds.
The Eagles are back in action on Sunday (Jan. 20) when they host the Wendy's Mid-Atlantic Duals. That event begins at 10 a.m. AU will wrestle Belmont Abbey, East Stroudsburg and Seton Hill.
Pitt-Johnstown 33, Ashland 10
125 – Max Byrd (AU) dec. Evan Link (UPJ), 3-0 3-0, AU
133 – Michael Labry (AU) maj. dec. Dave Fogle (UPJ), 10-2 7-0, AU
141 – Dave Cawley (UPJ) tech. fall Nolan Dilts (AU), 17-0 (4:02) 7-5, AU
149 – Jack Bachman (UPJ) maj. dec. Dan Genetin (AU), 9-0 9-7, UPJ
157 – Joe Paolo (UPJ) dec. Anthony Pavlich (AU), 1-0 12-7, UPJ
165 – Keith Ryan (UPJ) pins Randall Perkins (AU), 3:56 18-7, UPJ
174 – Gary Lantz (UPJ) pins Michael Blum (AU), 3:36 24-7, UPJ
184 – Travis McKillip (UPJ) dec. Bryson Hall (AU), 5-0 27-7, UPJ
197 – Joe Brandt (AU) dec. Nikos Garafola (UPJ), 8-3 27-10, UPJ
285 – Josh Duplin (UPJ) pins Tyler Houska (AU), 5:18 33-10, UPJ