Led by 2-time state champ, Mt. Pleasant wrestlers in title contention

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 | 4:37 PM

The last team other than Burrell to win a WPIAL Class 2A team title was Mt. Pleasant in 2006.

But could this be the year that someone else wins that title?

This is not your typical Burrell team this season. The Bucs return only five starters and had three other starters decide not to wrestle. They will be young, and the WPIAL title, which they have owned for the past 15 seasons, is there for the taking.

Mt. Pleasant coach Zach Snyder said he thinks his team has a chance.

The Vikings (10-7) won Section 3-A in 2020-21 and finished second to Burrell in the section tournament. They fell to Quaker Valley in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

Mt. Pleasant returns 10 starters and is led by two-time WPIAL and PIAA champion Dayton Pitzer (85-3).

But Pitzer can’t do it by himself. The rest of the team needs to do its part.

“We definitely have the lineup and numbers to make a pretty good run for things,” Snyder said. “I’m not directly looking at a team yet until maybe playoffs. My goal is to make everyone work as hard as they can and motivate them to try to be the best they can.”

The others returning are sophomore Joseph Longhi at 106, junior Sean Cain at 120, sophomore Greg Shaulis at 132, sophomore Jamison Poklembo at 138, senior Luke Geibig at 145, senior Lucas Shaulis and senior Conor Johnson at either 152 or 160, sophomore Jackson Hutter at 172 and senior Colin Gnibus at 189.

“Last year, we were young,” Snyder said. “I expect guys to come back and do a lot better and improve on last year.”

Poklembo was a WPIAL champion (33-14) at 132, Gnibus (80-37) finished third in the WPIAL and Longhi (22-13) and Greg Shaulis (25-14) placed sixth.

Poklembo and Gnibus were close to earning a trip to Hershey last year. Geibig qualified for states his freshman and sophomore seasons.

“It looks like we’ll be able to fill all the weight classes,” Snyder said. “We have some flexibility. We have a bunch of young guys looking to make a jump that were waiting in the wings. They are training hard every day in the room.”

Snyder has bulked up the schedule. Mt. Pleasant compete in the Hampton Duals this weekend, where they could meet up with Norwin, Thomas Jefferson, Altoona and Quaker Valley.

They will head to the Panther Classic in Cresson the following week as well as Powerade and the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament. They also are wrestling Class 3A No. 1 Waynesburg.

“I’m a lot more comfortable here,” Snyder said. “I have my feet under me now. The third year is a charm. We have nine seniors, so this may be the best team we’ve had in a long time.

“I’m excited and pumped up. We’re ready to go.”

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 pschofield@triblive.com.


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