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Latrobe grad Pletcher off to good start at NCAA Wrestling Championships | TribLIVE.com
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Latrobe grad Pletcher off to good start at NCAA Wrestling Championships

Paul Schofield
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher, a Latrobe graduate, walks off mat after defeating Tim Rooney of Kent State in the 133-pound bout during the NCAA wrestling championships on Thursday, March 21, 2019 at PPG Paints Arena.

When Latrobe graduate Luke Pletcher walked out on the mat for his first-round match at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Thursday, he heard a young fan yelling his name.

Pletcher said he usually would nod, but when he saw the kid wearing a Latrobe wrestling sweatshirt, he gave him a wave.

The Ohio State junior was pleased to be home to compete in this year’s tournament.

“I saw the Latrobe hockey team, which won the state title when I was in school, here,” Pletcher said. “That was neat. It’s nice to wrestle in front of friends and family.”

Pletcher didn’t disappoint anyone as he rolled to a 12-3 victory against Kent State’s Tim Rooney at 133 pounds.

He followed his game plan to a T, taking it to Rooney from the start.

“I wanted to be aggressive and score points,” Pletcher said. “I kept after him. Coach (Tom) Ryan wanted me to make my opponent not want to be here.

“I just was looking for a better start than I had in Cleveland (last year). It’s been a process for me. I used to rely on my defense, now I’m more offensive.”

Pletcher (25-5) will face All-American Montorie Bridges of Wyoming in the second round Thursday night. Bridges (31-8) finished eighth in 2018. He defeated North Dakota State’s Cam Sykora, 3-2.

“It gets harder from here on out,” Pletcher said. “The weight class is wide open, anyone can win it.”

If Pletcher wins in the second session Thursday, he could meet up with longtime rival Micky Phillippi of Pitt (Derry). Phillippi (21-2) defeated Pletcher earlier this season, but he must defeat Iowa State’s Austin Gomez (23-5) to advance.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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