Mt. Pleasant’s Dayton Pitzer claims 3rd PIAA title with 100th career pin

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Saturday, March 12, 2022 | 7:31 PM


HERSHEY — A ritual for Dayton Pitzer after a match is to run sprints.

Even after he captured his third PIAA Class 2A title with a first-period pin Saturday at Giant Center, Pitzer was in the hallway running.

“I have to keep my cardio up for the (Pittsburgh) classic,” Pitzer said.

The Pennsylvania team will be announced Sunday, but Pitzer acknowledged he is on it.

Pitzer (45-0, 130-3) doesn’t waste time, on or off the mat. In the 215-pound final, he pinned West Perry senior Brad Morrison at 1 minute, 7 seconds.

It was his 100th career pin and his fourth first-period pin in the state tournament. His matches totaled 4:13.

Pitzer earned the Robert W. Craig Outstanding Wrestler Award and the Michael L. Smith Most Falls in Least Time Award in Class 2A.

“This is pretty special,” Pitzer said. “This has as much meaning as becoming a three-time champion.

“The plan going in was to hand fight a little bit, get that first takedown and work for the fall. I tried to stay in position and look for a fall.”

It took Pitzer 44 seconds to take down Morrison (47-2). Once he locked in the cradle, the match was over. Pitzer yanked him over, and it took the official only a second to slam the mat.

Pitzer doesn’t celebrate after a win, but he did point to cousin Autumn Zundel in the stands and his family. Zundel is battling a medical problem.

“The past two seasons, she’s been through a lot,” Pitzer said. “It’s the least I can do but wrestle hard for her. It was nice for her to come and see this. It’s exciting.”

Pitzer had 38 pins this season. Only three opponents made it out of the first period, and only one — Thomas Stewart of Blair Academy (N.J.) in the Powerade finals — went the distance. Pitzer won that match 4-2.

He won 68 consecutive matches to end his high school career.

“It feels good to be a three-time champion,” Pitzer said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet.

“I put more pressure on myself with training than I do competing. I just want to go as good as I can be. I train as hard as I can.”

Pitzer became Mt. Pleasant’s first three-time state champion. The other champions from Mt. Pleasant are Justin Spates (1999, 2000), Robbie Waller (1998) and Donnie Ament (2005).

The other WPIAL wrestler to win a state title Saturday was Frazier sophomore Rune Lawrence (37-3, 66-4), who pinned Saucon Valley junior Jake Jones at 4:43 to win the 172 title. It was his second title, tying his brother Thayne for most titles at the school.

“This feels great, just a sweet as the first one,” Lawrence said. “There is obviously stuff I could have done better, but overall I was pleased.

“I really wasn’t worried about him. I knew he couldn’t get to my legs, and if I could get to my stuff, I wouldn’t worry about him.”

The other WPIAL finalist looking to repeat was Laurel junior Grant MacKay, but he dropped a 2-1 decision to Notre Dame-Green Pond junior Holden Garcia.

MacKay said he’ll use the loss as a learning experience. He almost had a defensive pin at the end.

“I didn’t have a good angle because I was on bottom trying to pin him,” MacKay said. “This stings a lot. Wrestling is a great sport. I’ve had my biggest victories and I’ve had my biggest upsets.

“Wrestling is a roller coaster of emotions. I try to keep it in the middle and I’ll be back to work the next couple days.”

Others from the WPIAL to earn medals were:

Fourth: Burrell sophomore Cooper Hornack (120) and Quaker Valley senior Patrick Cutchember (189)

Fifth: Burgettstown sophomore Parker Sentipal (106), Bentworth sophomore Chris Vargo (120) and Burgettstown sophomore Gaven Suica (126)

Sixth: Central Valley senior Ambrose Boni (138) and Quaker Valley senior Justin Richey (152)

Eighth: Quaker Valley sophomore Jack Kazalas (113), Quaker Valley junior Logan Richey (120), Beth-Center senior Kyle McCollum (132), Beth-Center junior Tyler Berish (152) and Derry senior Christian Hirak (160)

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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