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Pitt claims EWL title, Wilps wins 3rd crown

| Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

Pitt's reign atop the Eastern Wrestling League will come to an end after this year.

That is only because the Panthers won't be around next season to defend the title they won Saturday.

Pitt exited the league in style, capturing a third consecutive EWL tournament title and crowning four champions.

Matt Wilps received a bit of a scare, needing a late escape and riding points to beat Bloomsburg's Richard Perry, 5-4, at 197 pounds. Wilps, a Chartiers Valley graduate who is ranked third in the country, was named Outstanding Wrestler. He leads a contingent of eight Panthers to the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, from March 21-23.

“I'm just going to try to use this to catapult me to the top of nationals,” Wilps said.

Pitt piled up 125.5 points. Host school Edinboro, which won eight consecutive EWL titles from 2003-10, took second with 117. Pitt trailed Edinboro by a half-point after the 165-pound bout, but Nick Bonaccorsi, a Bethel Park graduate, gave the Panthers the lead for good with a 3-0 win over Bloomsburg's Chris Smith.

Pitt won the next three matches to secure one last EWL title before moving to the ACC.

“We have pretty good depth,” Pitt coach Rande Stottlemyer said. “We don't have any holes for the most part.”

One of the more anticipated matches never materialized because of an injury: Clarion senior James Fleming pulled out of the 157-pound title bout against Bloomsburg's Frank Hickman.

Fleming, ranked No. 4 in the country at 157, had qualified for the NCAA Tournament and did not suffer a blemish to his 30-2 record after taking a medical forfeit.

Clarion did not disclose the injury, but coach Troy Letters clearly did not want Fleming, a West Mifflin graduate, to further hurt himself.

One of the tightest bouts came in a rematch of last year's championship match between Edinboro's A.J. Schopp and Pitt's Shelton Mack.

Schopp prevented Mack, whom he beat 4-3 in overtime in last year's tournament, from escaping in the second period after a scoreless first period. He picked up a point for riding time. Mack started the third period in the neutral position, yielding a point, and his late shot wasn't enough to force overtime.

Local NCAA qualifiers include Pitt's Donnie Tasser (Belle Vernon) and Lock Haven's Fred Garcia (Ringgold).

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at sbrown@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ ScottBrown_Trib.

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