Mercyhurst wrestling tackled the week, winning over Gannon University and University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ).
The Lakers began their week with winning over crosstown rival, Gannon University, 23-9. The team continued their success into Saturday, beating UPJ 24-15. Mercyhurst went into the match ranked fifth in the nation. With this win, the team took their third consecutive Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) title.
Wednesday’s match against Gannon University included an impressive performance despite the environment which red-shirt junior Angelo Bortoluzzi described as hostile.
The Lakers started the match down after their opening bout at 125 for the first time this season.
The team followed up with seven straight wins, which included victories by nationally-ranked wrestlers redshirt junior Jeremy Landowski (7th), redshirt sophomore Francis Mizia (6th), Angelo Bortoluzzi (4th), and redshirt junior August Mizia (5th), who had the biggest win of the night with a technical fall.
After a strong showing at Gannon, the Lakers went into their match against UPJ with the league title in view. Coming in to the match the team was 2-12-1 lifetime against UPJ. The Lakers outfought the Mountain Cats with major decision victories by Jeremy Landowski at 149 pounds, Francis Mizia at 157 pounds, August Mizia at 174 pounds, and a pin by 184-pound wrestler sophomore Dakota DesLauriers.
Mercyhurst entered its league-clinching match with five nationally ranked wrestlers while UPJ only has two. The one match featuring two ranked wrestlers came at 165 pounds, pitting Laker wrestler Angelo Bortoluzzi against UPJ’s Tyler Reinhart.
Reinhart won 6-4, but Bortoluzzi said the loss was a mental error and he looks forward to a rematch.
“There were 15 seconds left; I got funked. When I really get into the moment, I sometimes get really excited and that happens. I’ll see him again at Nationals,” he said.
Bortoluzzi, a three-year starter for the Lakers, said the team dynamic eases a personal loss.
“On an individual level, you learn to accept defeat, deal with it,” he said. “But as team, being part of a team helps you not to dwell on your losses. It’s not regionals, it’s not nationals. Get over it. Try harder, push harder on to the next one.”
Mercyhurst, having won its third consecutive PSAC league title, will face University of Findlay at home this Wednesday with hopes of becoming the winningest team in program history. From there, the Lakers move onto the Super Region I Championships in West Liberty, W.Va., where they seek to continue their team success.
“As a team, we have a strong belief that after we’ve come this far, we can win nationals.,” said Bortoluzzi. “No doubt.”