Mt. Pleasant’s Dayton Pitzer named Westmoreland Tribune-Review Wrestler of the Year
Saturday, March 30, 2019 | 4:53 PM
When Dayton Pitzer began his freshman season at Mt. Pleasant, his goal was to stand on the podium at the PIAA championships in Hershey.
That goal changed as the season progressed. After he defeated some of the area’s top-ranked wrestlers, Pitzer knew he was capable of winning a state title … and then he did.
Pitzer returned home from Hershey with a gold medal around his neck. The following Monday, he had a doughnut party in class.
After winning almost every tournament, Pitzer was an easy choice for Tribune-Review Wrestler of the Year.
Pitzer finished 39-1 and won the Penn-Cambria, Southmoreland, Bedford and Penn-Trafford Ultimate Warrior tournaments. He also won his first section, WPIAL and Southwest Regional titles before claiming state gold.
He placed second at the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament when he lost to Belle Vernon senior Scott Joll. He later defeated Joll at Penn-Trafford. He ended the season with 28 pins.
What were your thoughts about winning a state title?
It meant a lot. I was grateful to wrestle. It was a fun season with my coaches and my teammates. I don’t know if it has set in yet, but I took some time off after the state tournament and just started wrestling again for freestyle and Greco.
What were your goals at the start of the season?
At the beginning of the year, my goal was to finish in the top three at states. I was doing lifts and runs and all my double practices a day. I knew I could do it, and I believed in myself. My coaches believed in me. I thought I didn’t want to do all that work and finish third. I set my goal halfway through the season to win.
When did you start feeling this was going to come true?
When I started beating guys ranked high in the state, tough wrestlers. I felt like I was wrestling good, and I believed in myself.
What got you started in wrestling? How old were you when you got started?
I started in second grade. The school sent home a paper about wrestling, and I just wanted to try it. I came to Mt. Pleasant JO practice and then I started going to Rob Waller’s All-American Wrestling Club, and I’ve been there ever since.
Can you hear Coach Waller while you’re wrestling?
Oh, yes. And I try to listen in between periods when I’m in front of a big, loud crowd. But I try to look to all my coaches.
Is there a ritual you do before every match?
I’ll go down and start warming up when the first 170-pound weight class is on the board. I’d go down that same time. I also listen to inspirational talks from people from “Champions by Design.” It helps me with my mind, and I get tracks to listen to before my matches. It gets my mind focused.
What are some of your favorite homemade meals?
Before big matches, (my mom will) make me steak and shrimp or chicken and shrimp with broccoli and pasta for carbs and to get my energy like three days before.
Is there a food you crave during wrestling season that you stay away from?
One of my favorite foods is ice cream. It’s not the healthiest thing for you. I had a good bit of ice cream through the season because I weighed 179-180 during the season. I was eating whatever I wanted.
How did you celebrate after the tournament?
My coaches took me to a Chinese buffet, the Bass Pro Shop and then back to the motel and hang out with my teammates and played cards.
Did you get to the NCAA tournament at PPG Paints Arena?
I was there for the sessions on Friday and Saturday. It was a lot of fun. It was really cool and neat to see that and like something to look forward to and work hard for. It’s my goal to be there.
Do you play any other sport?
This is the first year I’m on the track team. I’m throwing the javelin, discus, 100 and 400 relay.
What will it take to repeat in 2020?
Just keep working hard in the summer. Go to camps with Coach Waller and lift some this summer. Run, lift and wrestle. Work on my cradle and go to Snyder strength and conditioning to get stronger.
Westmoreland Tribune-Review all-stars
Hempfield, sr., 113 pounds
2018-19 record: 33-9
Burkholder advanced to the PIAA semifinals, a run that included a 4-0 win against Cumberland Valley junior Ben Monn. He lost to Franklin Regional freshman Finn Solomon and ended up fifth in the state. He also placed second in the WPIAL and was a Section 1 champion, improving to 110-24 in his career. He will attend Seton Hill.
Franklin Regional, sr., 126 pounds
2018-19 record: 40-4
The WPIAL Class AAA champion placed second in the state for the second consecutive season. He was the Section 1 runner-up. He was a WCCA champion and placed second at the Eastern Area Invitational. He finished with a 142-22 career record and was selected for the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. He will attend Pitt.
Penn-Trafford, sr., 138 pounds
2018-19 record: 37-6
Coy is a four-time PIAA Class AAA qualifier and earned his second state medal with a seventh-place finish. He was a WPIAL and Section 1 champion. He also won his first Eastern Area Invitational and WCCA titles. His finished his career 136-37. He will join his brother Cam at Virginia.
Derry, so., 126 pounds
2018-19 record: 40-8
Cymmerman ended his sophomore season with a fourth-place finish at the state tournament. He was a WPIAL Class AA champion and placed second at the PIAA Southwest Regional. He is a two-time PIAA qualifier. His career record is 82-14.
Derry, sr., 220 pounds
2018-19 record: 39-2
The three-sport athlete placed second in the state for the second consecutive season. He suffered a knee injury in the state semifinals. He placed third in the state as a sophomore. He was the WPIAL Class AA and WCCA champion. He also plays football and volleyball. He finished with a 155-25 career record. He will attend Mercyhurst to play football.
Franklin Regional, so., 106 pounds
2018-19 record: 41-2
The sophomore reversed a loss in the WPIAL Class AAA finals by defeating Seneca Valley sophomore Dylan Chappell to win his first PIAA title. He is a two-time PIAA qualifier and won the WCCA title. His two-year record is 72-12.
Belle Vernon, sr., 182 pounds
2018-19 record: 37-8
The West Virginia commit placed third in the PIAA Class AAA tournament, which is an improvement from his fifth- place finish in 2018. He placed second in the WPIAL tournament after winning in 2018. He won the WCCA title and was the only wrestler to defeat Mt. Pleasant’s Dayton Pitzer. He finished his career 116-31.
Hempfield, so., 138 pounds
2018-19 record: 38-7
Linsenbigler is a two-time PIAA Class AAA qualifier. He placed fourth in the state after falling to Souderton’s Ty Williams. He was a WCCA champion where he joined his dad as a father/son to win a county title. He and placed third at Cumberland Valley. He was 71-14 for his career.
Greensburg Salem, jr., 195 pounds
2018-19 record: 31-10
He was a PIAA Class AAA qualifier who went 2-2 in the state tournament. He placed third at WPIALs and second in Section 1. He placed second in a season-opening tournament in Ohio and third in the WCCA tournament. He has a career record of 56-23.
Norwin, jr., 120 pounds
2018-19 record: 37-3
The three-time WPIAL Class AAA champion finished second in the state for the second consecutive season, falling to Nazareth senior Sean Pierson, 9-5. Phipps sustained a severe ankle and foot injury in the semifinals but still competed. He was the Powerade and Section 1 champion. His career record is 112-9.
Franklin Regional, fr., 113 pounds
2018-19 record: 40-8
He was the PIAA runner-up and placed third at the WPIAL championships. Solomon lost to PIAA champion Alejandro Herrera-Rondon in the finals. He lost three times to the two-time PIAA champion. He was the Section 1 and the Eastern Area Invitational winner. He placed third at the King of the Mountain.
Hempfield, so., 285 pounds
2018-19 record: 35-6
Vance finished fourth in the state after placing third in the WPIAL. He won Cumberland Valley and WCCA titles, joining his grandfather, Mike Kirkling, as a county champion. He is a two-time PIAA qualifier. His career record is 69-15.
Norwin, jr., 220 pounds
2018-19 record: 33-6
The WPIAL Class AAA champion went 1-2 at the PIAA tournament. He upset Armstrong’s Ogden Atwood in the WPIAL final, but lost to Atwood in the state tournament. He was the WCCA runner-up. An injury ended his sophomore season after two matches. His career with a 56-21 record.
Latrobe, jr., 126 pounds
2018-19 record: 36-6
The junior placed fourth in the state, losing to two-time PIAA Class AAA champion Sam Hillegas of North Hills. He was the Hickory tournament champion and Section 1 winner. He placed second at the WCCA and WPIAL tournaments. He has a 99-25 career record.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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