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Pitt-Johnstown wrestlers wary of upstart Millersville

Jan. 11—Pat Pecora likes what he sees out of his Pitt-Johnstown wrestling team heading into Friday night's dual meet with No. 14 Millersville.

The 11th-ranked Mountain Cats, who saw their 53-match home winning streak ended by Findlay in December, started a new one this past week with convincing victories over Frostburg State, No. 9 North Carolina-Pembroke and No. 16 Grand Valley State.

"We're on the right track," Pecora said. "We're ready to go.

"It's been a good week of practice."

The Mountain Cats (8-2, 1-0 in PSAC) will need to be at their best against Millersville (6-4, 1-0). The Marauders are 0-10 all time against Pitt-Johnstown, and Pecora expects coach Jerry Boland to put his best squad out against the Mountain Cats.

"That hasn't always been the case in recent years, as some highly ranked teams have rested their best wrestlers in duals against Pitt-Johnstown.

"I think they want to win the match," Pecora said. "I think this is probably the first year in a while that they think they have a legitimate shot at us. I have a lot of respect for their coach. He's a good guy."

Pitt-Johnstown throttled Millersville last year, 36-5.

Two-time All-American Devin Flannery, who is ranked third at 133 pounds, had the Marauders' lone win in that dual. Flannery is expected to face Forest Hills graduate Byron Daubert on Friday. The two have never met, and Pecora is excited to see how his wrestler performs.

A national qualifier a year ago, Daubert is just 6-6 this season, but Pecora has seen signs of improvement.

"I think he's getting there," Pecora said. "That's why I'm looking forward to this matchup. I think last week, coming off Christmas break, the weight cut got to him a little bit. I think he wrestled much better in the second or third match on Saturday.

"I think he's more focused and ready to go."

Dillon Keane, who also qualified for the 2023 NCAA tournament, is in a similar situation, as he could face third-ranked Brandon Connor at 165 pounds.

Keane went 3-0 at the Mountain Cat Duals last weekend, and Pecora believes that the career-ending injury suffered by 174-pounder Alex Weber is a motivating factor for Keane.

"I think he's (turning it on now)," the coach said. "That's why you try to make something good out of everything. Alex Weber not being able to wrestle, I think it's made Dillon Keane realize that he should be very grateful. They're workout partners. To see his buddy not being able to wrestle, it makes him focus."

Pecora wants his seniors — Daubert, Keane and Jacob Ealy, who is ranked second at 149 — to worry less about winning and more about making the most out of the final two months of their careers.

"You've got to enjoy the sport," Pecora said. "This sport is very mental. Winning starts weighing on you. You start being overcome by the pressure of winning. It can be a very big burden. Something like this takes the burden off your back a little bit.

"You say, 'I could be done at any time, let's enjoy this. It's my senior year, I'm going to enjoy this.' "