Mt. Pleasant pinning machine Dayton Pitzer eyes 2nd PIAA title

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 4:42 PM

Mt. Pleasant junior Dayton Pitzer’s nickname isn’t “Pinzer,” but it should be.

Even though he really doesn’t have a nickname, when he is on the wrestling mat, Pitzer is looking to do one thing: pin his opponent, and he has done that a lot during his two-year career.

Pitzer (39-2) has collected 30 pins in 35 matches he has wrestled this season. He has received six forfeits. In two seasons, Pitzer (82-3) has 58 career pins.

He is three wins, or pins, away from his second PIAA Class AA title.

Pitzer is favored to win the 215-pound weight class Friday at the PIAA championships at Giant Center in Hershey. He missed his sophomore season while recovering from knee surgery.

He opens the tournament against Bermudian Springs senior Savauri Shelton (23-4).

Pitzer collected three pins during the PIAA West Super Region on Saturday at IUP, giving him 13 consecutive pins. The majority of his pins occur in the first period. He has 27 first-period falls.

“He was a little off on Saturday,” Mt. Pleasant coach Zach Snyder joked. “One of his matches lasted into the second period.”

He had had to wrestle for a full six minutes only five times this season. Two were losses to the No. 1-ranked 220-pound wrestler in the country, Malvern Prep senior Nicholas Feldman. Two were wins against Belle Vernon junior Cole Weightman, the WPIAL Class AAA 215-pound champ. The other was against Montoursville senior Dylan Bennett, who recently committed to Pitt to play football.

Bennett is the East Region champion. He lost to Pitzer, 6-1, in the semifinals at the Powerade Tournament in late January.

“He’s tough and strong,” Pitzer said. “I didn’t wrestle my best. I’ll definitely change some things. It was a dominant win.”

Snyder said a lot of focus at Powerade was on Feldman.

“I really can’t worry about anyone except my first match,” Pitzer said. “Even though I have a lot of quick pins, I’m in great shape and capable of wrestling a full six minutes or more. I work hard in staying in the best shape.

“I go out and have fun. I work hard and try to pin guys all of the time. When I go out, I have a good mindset. There is no pressure, and I look for the fall. It’s always on my mind.”

Pitzer weighs in a lot of times less than 200 pounds. But he is lanky — 6-foot-4 with long arms — and uses his strength to his advantage against heavier wrestlers.

“When I’m on top, I look for the cradle,” Pitzer said. “I have a good top game. If the cradle isn’t there, I have other things I can use.

“I go to (Rob Waller’s All-American Wrestling Club), and I like to take guys down with a blast double or double stutter. They are definitely my favorites. I can take guys down with a lot of things. Whatever is there I take.”

Snyder, along with others, works out with Pitzer in the room. He worked out with Pitzer during his freshman year when he won the state title as well.

“He’s the best wrestler I’ve ever coached,” Snyder said. “I saw that when I trained with him at Waller’s. I have a black eye to prove it.”

Pitzer said he was close to competing as a sophomore. He started training, but the knee was still sore so he was advised to shut it down for the season.

He hasn’t missed a beat despite missing the season.

“I have a great support system,” Pitzer said. “I have awesome coaches, awesome family, my friends and my physical therapist (Jarod King). I got better mentally in that because I wasn’t able to wrestle, but I gained some things during that time period.”

Pitzer’s goal as a freshman changed once he started having success.

“My goal as a freshman was to finish top three in the state,” Pitzer said. “But during the season, I was beating a lot of ranked wrestlers and I didn’t want to do all the hard work for nothing. I changed my goal to be at the top of the podium.”

And he’s looking to climb to the top again Friday.

At a glance

PIAA Class AA wrestling championships


Weights 106-138

8:30 a.m. — Quarterfinals

10 a.m. — Semifinals

5 p.m. — Finals

Weights 145-285

12:30 p.m. — Quarterfinals

2 p.m. — Semifinals

8 pm. — Finals

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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