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Mizia brothers making wrestling mark

| Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 7:03 p.m.

After being redshirts in 2012-13, Bentworth's August “Gus” and Francis Mizia are both significant contributors with Mercyhurst University's wrestling team this athletic year.

Gus Mizia, a 174-pound sophomore, is 15-4 overall for the Lakers and reached the finals of both the team's Laker Open and the highly competitive Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championships. He has five pins and two technical falls.

At the Laker Open he earned major decision victories over Buffalo's Austin Weigel (10-0), Niagara Community (Sanborn, N.Y.) College's Mark Havers (15-2) and a 10-7 decision over Ashland (Ohio) University's Luke Cramer before being pinned in the title match by West Virginia's Jakob Scheffel.

In the conference tourney after receiving an opening bye, Mizia major-decisioned Pitt-Johnstown's Nikos Garofola (10-1) and defeated Edinboro's Zachary Towers (6-3) before losing by fall to Bloomsburg University's Mike Dessino. August Mizia became the first Mercyhurst wrestler to ever reach the PSAC championship finals.

Wrestling unattached a year ago, Gus Mizia went 24-4 overall with four pins. He won the Niagara County Community College Open and also earned the gold medal at the Mount Union (Alliance, Ohio) University Open with five straight wins.

In 2011-2012, he finished 27-14 overall with third-place finishes at both the PSAC and Laker Open meets. Gus Mizia helped the Lakers compile a 13-6 overall dual meet record in 2011-2012 and finish 34th nationally in NCAA Division II.

A three-time Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state qualifier, Gus Mizia placed fifth at the 171-pound PIAA Class AA tourney in 2011 and finished with a 39-5 final overall record.

Francis Mizia, a 157-pound freshman, is 17-4 overall. He earned a third-place finish at the Laker Open and finished fourth at the PSAC tourney.

At the Laker Open, Mizia won four of five matches, including a pair of technical victories over Ashland's Brad Potter (17-1) and West Liberty's (W.Va.) Daniel Carpenter (21-6). After a 2-1 loss to teammate Tyler Berger in the semifinals, he earned the bronze medal with a 7-4 decision of Tiffin's (Ohio) Chase Boyd and disqualification victory over WVU's Timothy Wheeling.

After a 12-0 major decision over Gannon's Nathaniel Ross in the PSAC opening match, Francis Mizia lost, 8-3, to Clarion's Austin Matthews. He then won three straight matches with victories over Millersville's Zac Bush (16-1), Pitt-Johnstown's Sam Molina (4-0) and Lock Haven's Elias Biddle (9-8) before losing the third-place match to Bloomsburg's Kevin Hartnett, 9-8.

Mercyhurst's fifth-place finish at the 2013 PSAC championships tied the 2008 and 2011 teams for the program's best team finish at the PSAC meet.

Wrestling unattached at 165 pounds in 2012-13, Francis Mizia went 22-9 overall with two pins. He placed second at the Laker Open, the Niagara CC Open and was third at the Lake Erie (Painesville, Ohio) College and Mount Union University Opens.

The younger Mizia concluded his scholastic career in 2011-12 by becoming only the second state champion in Bentworth history. He won the 160-pound PIAA Class AA title with a 3-2 decision over Forest Hills High School's Cody Law in the championship match. A seventh-place finisher at the 2011 state tournament at 145 pounds, he compiled a 44-3 overall record his senior season and 142-31 career scholastic record.

Under the direction of seventh-year head coach Mike Wehler, Mercyhurst owned a 14-1 dual meet record and 5-0 conference mark as of Feb. 4. The Lakers are ranked 12th in the latest NCAA Division II wrestling poll by the Division II Wrestling Coaches Association.

The 2014 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships will be held March 14-15 in Cleveland.

Bruce Wald is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.