No. 11 Pitt-Johnstown looks to send seniors out as PSAC champs

Feb. 15—Coach Pat Pecora got the chance to spend time with his newest grandchild on Wednesday evening.

Less than 48 hours later, he'll be saying goodbye to some of the young men he considers sons.

Pitt-Johnstown will honor seven seniors — including three-time All-American Jacob Ealy and Forest Hills graduate Byron Daubert — prior to the Mountain Cats' dual with Shippensburg at 7 p.m. Friday at the Sports Center. Pitt-Johnstown (14-2, 6-0 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) already has clinched a share of its eighth consecutive PSAC championship and can win it outright by beating Shippensburg (1-15, 0-6).

"To have accomplished it every year that I've been here means a lot," Ealy said. "If we can pull it off, that will be four that I was a part of. It's a standard that we have set here. It's one of our goals."

Dillon Keane is a third starter who will be honored. Alex Weber, a key figure in the lineup before injuries ended his career, and Oggie Atwood, who has been a starter at times, will be recognized, as will backups Colby Keane and Will Small.

All seven have made their mark on the program.

"These guys stuck with it the whole time," Pecora said. "They're in the room every day. That's tough to do when you're not wrestling. They're helping guys get better. I tell them that all the time. I love the team aspect. That's why I love the dual meet. Our whole concept has always been, 'Let's accomplish something together that we couldn't have done by ourselves.' "

Pecora has spoken often about how special Ealy is, as a wrestler and a leader. The legendary coach said he can't wait for Ealy's 149-pound bout to come up in a dual because he's confident that the Mountain Cats will be getting points — usually via technical fall or pin.

"He's been so special," Pecora said. "I know life is going to be tough without him. My thing for him is to put that final stamp on his career. He's done everything for us. He's wrestled the best, beaten the best. He's placed third in the nation. To me, he's a national champ. He just needs to put a stamp on it now."

Ealy has a very close bond with Pecora, and he doesn't expect that to change any time soon.

"Ever since my first day on campus, our relationship has grown," Ealy said. "He's like my second father. I don't know what I'm going to do without him. I'm going to have to stay in touch with him. He's become a big part of my life, and I wouldn't trade him for anything."

Ealy expects to remain close with Pecora and other members of the "brotherhood" that is Pitt-Johnstown wrestling long after he wears the program's singlet for the final time.

"I have so many people that have my back, and people whose backs I have — not only my current teammates and former teammates, but older alumni that come back around," Ealy said. "At UPJ, everyone is so tight, and it's family."