Gannon topples No. 6 ranked Pitt-Johnstown

Marvel Comics should take another look at who they want playing the Fantastic Four because the Thing and the Human Torch may just find themselves out of a job.

Alex Bieler
(Alex Bieler) Junior Jose Matos (red) upends University of Pitt-Johnstown's Dave Fogle in Thursday's meet at the Hammermill Center. The Knights went on to win 28-6 in their first home event of the season. Matos, who is ranked No. 3 regionally, now has a 13-4 record on the season.

Stan Lee may instead choose four wrestlers from the No. 3 regionally ranked Gannon University wrestling team as junior Jose Matos, redshirt senior Zack McKendree, redshirt senior Tony Petrella, and junior Chris Boyd have been enjoying some hard earned success lately.

Less than a week after the foursome contributed 3-0 marks to the third place Knights’ finish in the eight-team Midwest Classic hosted by Ashland College, the group finally led their troops into the Hammermill Center for the first home event of the season.

Gannon is 10-1 at home over the past four seasons.

The Knights certainly didn’t disappoint the home crowd as the team tallied an impressive 28-6 victory over No. 6 ranked University of Pitt-Johnstown. Gannon jumped three places in the regional rankings because of the victory.

The lost served as the Mountain Cats’ first of the season and gave the Gannon its first victory over the rival since the 2000-01 season. 

Pitt-Johnstown won last year’s meeting 27-6.

Matos, McKendree, and Petrella finished off their opponents Dave Fogle, Gary Lantz, and Steve Makin, respectively, early in the evening and took advantage of the opportunity to push the Knights to a 22-0 lead.

It wasn’t until the 184 pounder Boyd wrestled A.J. Brentzel in a six overtime thriller that the Knights surrendered a point.

By that time, for the opposition, it was too little too late.

Before redshirt junior Jimmy Martz ended the night on a successful note for Gannon by pinning Josh Kupra at the 3:23 mark, freshman Richie Russell wrestled a close match but was edged out by Pitt-Johnstown’s Petros Georgilas.

Russell said that having upperclassmen help the wrestlers from a mental and technical standpoint,

“We’re all either older or very young wrestlers so having guys like Tony and Zack, who have been to nationals and been All-Americans on the team helps,” he said. “They know what it takes to get there. They’re always willing to help out and show us new ways to succeed and get to nationals.”

He also spoke of the importance that Coach Don Henry places on conditioning which clearly showed in some of the matches as Gannon wrestlers were able to simply outlast their opponents and gain victories.

Despite their physical fitness, the Knights were unable to get past Ashland University as both school ended the meet with a 15-15 score. Senior John Flemming, redshirt senior A.J. Milanak, redshirt junior Ethan Swope along with McKendree and Petrella recorded victories for Gannon.

The individual victories against Pitt-Johnstown and Ashland not only helped the Knights coast to a victory, but also sparked the interest of those determining the NCAA Division II East regional individual rankings.

Petrella is ranked No.1 in the 174-pound weight class with a perfect 5-0 dual meet record.  It was Milanak who made the biggest jump as he went from being unranked to No. 2 in the 141-pound weight class.

Swope also holds a No.2 ranking – his coming in the 149-pound weight class. Matos and McKendree are ranked No.3 in the 125 and 165 pound weight classes, respectively.  Flemming is ranked No. 5 in the 133-pound class while redshirt sophomore Sam Brehm is No. 6 in the 157-pound class.

As the Fantastic Four pushes on, so do the rest of the Gannon Knight wrestlers as the Knights will next take their show on the road as they return to Ashland, Ohio for the Ashland Open Saturday.