Back from injury, Mt. Pleasant’s Dayton Pitzer reclaims PIAA throne

Friday, March 12, 2021 | 10:33 PM

HERSHEY – Mt. Pleasant junior Dayton Pitzer hadn’t often been forced to go a full six minutes in matches this season. Usually, he pins his opponents.

Friday at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championship at the Giant Center, he didn’t have a problem working a little extra. The results were the same, as he claimed his second PIAA title.

Pitzer (42-2) won the title with a convincing 6-1 victory over Montoursville senior and Pitt football preferred walk-on recruit Dylan Bennett in the 215-pound final. Earlier in the day, he recorded his 31st pin in the quarterfinals and a 12-0 victory in the semifinals against Tamaqua senior Nate Wickerham.

“Winning this feels good,” Pitzer said. “My freshman year, I was kind of the underdog and I won it. Coming back from my injury last year definitely feels good.”

An injury his sophomore season prevented him from becoming a possible four-time champion. He joins Justin Spates as the Vikings’ only two-time champions.

“The injury was something I couldn’t control because my goal was to be a four-time champion,” Pitzer said. “The next best thing is becoming a three-time champion. Definitely that’s one of my goals, but you have to take it a day at a time. I try not to look too far ahead.”

Pitzer used two takedowns and a reversal to beat Bennett. He also defeated Bennett by the same score in the Powerade semifinals.

“He’s tough to score on,” Bennett said. “He’s good on top.”

Pitzer was one of five champions from the WPIAL.

The others were South Park senior Joey Fischer (126), Laurel sophomore Grant MacKay (152), Burrell senior A.J. Corrado (160) and Frazier freshman Rune Lawrence (172).

Corrado (34-0) served up a pancake move in overtime to win his first title.

The score was tied 1-1 when he hit the move and pinned Midd-West senior Avery Bassett.

“I knew he was going to take that shot, and I was actually looking to hit the pancake,” Corrado said. “When he took it, I saw the opening and hit it. It was something I’ve been working on ever since I came to Burrell. I use it a lot. I guess I serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Fischer defeated Muncy sophomore Scott Johnson, 3-2, to win the 132 title, while MacKay took the 152 title with a 1-0 victory against Hamburg senior Dalton Gimbor.

Lawrence won another thrilling match against Penns Valley senior Malachi Duvall, going up 9-7 when he exposed Duvall’s back to the mat with 15 seconds left. It was the third consecutive week that Lawrence has beaten Duvall.

The previous two times, Duvall had an early lead. This time, it was Lawrence who got off to the lead only to have Duvall rally and tie the score in the second period.

“We just like to put on a show for the fans,” Lawrence said. “He’s a great wrestler and it’s fun to wrestle someone like him.”

Burrell freshman Cooper Hornack had never reached the finals in a state event during his illustrious youth wrestling career.

And while he dropped a 6-2 decision to Hickory freshman Louie Gill, it ended up being a learning experience. Hornack defeated Gill at the West Super Region on March 6.

Gill was able to expose Hornack’s back to the mat to pick up three near-fall points in the second period.

“Losing here makes me want to work even harder,” Hornack said. “I just got caught in the second period. I thought I wrestled well until that point.”

Burrell senior Ian Oswalt lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to three-time PIAA champion Glendale senior Brock McMillan in a rematch from the 2020 final. McMillen was able to escape in the second period and held on for the win. He finished 6-0 in his career against Oswalt.

“He’s tough on top. He’s a leech,” Oswalt said. “He hangs for dear life. He does a really good job to sag on the opposite side and covers your hips.

“That’s no excuse. I shouldn’t get ridden out in the state finals. I was close to taking him down in the first period but I just couldn’t finish.”

Oswalt (164-24) and Corrado (155-35) were four-time PIAA placewinners.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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