HERSHEY — Dayton Pitzer was not quite 2 years old the last time Mt. Pleasant had a state champion.
That was Donnie Ament in 2005.
With Ament in attendance Saturday at Giant Center, Pitzer capped his superb freshman season by defeating Freedom senior Bryson Miller, 3-1, in the 182-pound final at the PIAA Class AA wrestling championships.
Robbie Waller (1998) and Justin Spates (1999, 2000) are the only other Mt. Pleasant wrestlers to win a state title. Pitzer also became the second freshman in state history to win above 160 pounds. Solanco’s Thomas Haines was the first in 2011 at 215 pounds.
Pitzer (43-1) used a takedown in the second period to grab a 2-1 lead against Miller, who wrestled defensively and didn’t attempt a takedown until the late in the third period, when he trailed 3-1.
“It feels so good. I worked hard all season, and it paid off,” Pitzer said. “Winning the title means a lot. I’m grateful for everything.”
Pitzer likes to score a lot of pins. He beat Miller, 11-5, in the WPIAL semifinals and pinned him in the PIAA Southwest Regional semifinals.
But Miller, who defeated Ellwood City junior Austin Walley for the first time in four tries during Friday’s semifinals with a low-scoring attack, used the same approach against Pitzer.
It kept the match close, but Pitzer’s persistence and aggressive style paid off. He finally got to Miller’s legs for a takedown.
“I felt good, and I knew if I hand-fought hard and pushed the pace, he’d break,” Pitzer said. “He likes to play the edge and take advantage of mistakes. That’s why I stayed in the middle.”
Pitzer credited his coaches and teammates for preparing him to be a state champion.
“Everybody in my bracket was pretty good, and I had to wrestle hard in each match,” Pitzer said. “Everyone is tough at the state tournament. I expected that. I felt like I wrestled well.”
Pitzer’s teammate at All-American Club, Frazier junior Thayne Lawrence (29-3, 97-11), claimed his second PIAA title by defeating Kane senior Alec English, 7-2, at 160 pounds. Lawrence won the 152-pound crown in 2018.
While Lawrence was unable to turn English over, he took him down three times. Lawrence never was threatened.
“He’s good on bottom and tough to turn,” Lawrence said. “He kept his base, and he had a nice little sit out, and it was hard to break him down. He was tough, but I wrestled my hardest and gave it my best.”
Lawrence said winning his second title is special.
“This means a lot, not only for me, but for everyone who came out to watch,” Lawrence said. “It’s a big thing for my school. I had fun out there.”
It was a disappointing end to Derry senior Dom DeLuca’s career. He lost a 6-2 decision in overtime to Greenville senior Jacob McMaster in the 220 final.
DeLuca (39-2) grabbed a 2-0 lead with a reversal in the second period, but McMaster used two escapes to tie the score.
McMaster, who hardly attempted a takedown during the six minutes of regulation, got in on DeLuca’s legs and secured a takedown with 16 seconds left in the sudden-victory period.
“He was the better wrestler than me,” DeLuca said. “It is what it is. There are a lot of memories to think about being a wrestler at Derry.
“I placed three times here. It means a lot.”
DeLuca said McMaster’s style frustrated him at times.
“It was tough getting past his him and his stance because he’s a big, strong dude,” DeLuca said. “He had a lot of good motion of his feet.”
DeLuca’s teammate, sophomore Ty Cymmerman, took fourth at 126 pounds.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .