W&J Hosts PAC Wrestling Championships On Friday
WASHINGTON, Pa. -- Washington & Jefferson College hosts the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Wrestling Championship Tournament featuring wrestlers from W&J, Thiel and Waynesburg at the Henry Memorial Center on Friday.
Conference titles will be awarded in 10 weight classes beginning at 5:00 pm, as the Presidents (Dual meets: 3-7 overall, 0-2 PAC) seek their first team championship since the 1998-99 season under first-year Head Coach Tommy Prairie.
Senior heavyweight Taylor Potts (Wellsburg, W. Va./John Marshall) leads W&J with 31 victories this season. Potts won four matches last weekend at the Baldwin-Wallace Invitational, becoming just the fourth W&J wrestler to reach 30 wins in a single season. He won the 285-pound PAC championship as a freshman in 2009 and is tied for seventh all-time with 78 career victories.
Senior Zach Cecchetti (Freeport, Pa./Kiski Area) will also be looking to become a two-time conference champion. Cecchetti won the 125-pound title during his rookie campaign and will wrestle in the 133-pound bracket during Friday’s tournament. He owns 80 career victories, including 15 this winter, and 20 pinfalls. Jacob Habel (2006) was the last President to win a 133-pound conference title.
Cecchetti will have to go through Thiel’s Corey Brown to gain the conference crown. Brown is the three-time defending 133-pound PAC Champion and an NCAA Division III All-American. He ranks third in the latest D3Wrestle.com poll and recorded a 12-5 decision against Cecchetti when they met on January 28th.
Sophomore David Dibenedetto (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel) will attempt to continue the momentum he created after winning the 165-pound title at the B-W Tournament on Saturday. He posted a perfect 4-0 record, upping his season total to 24 victories. Dibenedetto is tied with Potts for the team lead with nine falls. Aaron Gibbs (2002) was Washington & Jefferson's last PAC champion in the 165-pound weight class.
Sophomore Josh Etzel (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward) has accumulated 19 victories during his first full season with the team. He claimed the 149-pound title at the Messiah Open on January 21st and owns three pinfalls. Etzel, who looks to become the Presidents' first PAC champion at 141 pounds since Byron Johnson in 2004, made his debut in January last season and was named to the D3Wrestle.com All-Freshman Team after finishing second at the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional.
Two-time defending team champion Waynesburg is led by junior Alex Crown and senior Garrett Johnston. Crown has won the 125-pound title in each of his first two seasons and was named PAC Wrestler of the Year as a freshman. He has been victorious in 21-of-27 matches this season. Johnston is a three-time PAC Wrestler of the Week this winter and owns a record of 29-3. He is the league’s defending 157-pound champion and Midwest Region runner-up.
W&J has won five PAC team championships throughout its history, starting 50 years ago with the 1962 squad. The Presidents have also earned titles in 1965, 1966, 1995 and 1999.
Prior to Waynesburg’s two-year title run, Thiel claimed 10 consecutive conference championships.