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Douglas lauded for dedicated service to wrestling; Pecora now stands alone

A pair of wrestling icons with Ohio Valley ties were in the limelight last week.

Bridgeport’s Bobby Douglas never attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, nor did he ever wrestle for the Badgers. However, when Wisconsin hosted Penn State Friday in Big Ten action, Douglas was honored in an elaborate pre-match ceremony on “Bobby Douglas Night.”

Why Wisconsin?

Douglas, who is enshrined in numerous halls of fame for his wrestling and coaching abilities, coached Badgers first-year head coach Chris Bono, as well as Nittany Lions head coach Cael Sanderson, during his time in Ames.

“We made history today for Coach (Bobby) Douglas. That was unbelievable to have the Penn State staff do that and go out before the match to honor him. (More than) 3,000 people cheering for him and its on the Big Ten Network, it’s all over the place,” Bono said during his weekly press conference. “What a great night, Bobby deserved it and he got his just due. I wish we could’ve done more.”

Douglas led Arizona State to the NCAA team title in 1988 and in 1992. He then took over the Iowa State program, leading the Cyclones to three NCAA runner-up finishes. He coached Bono to a national title in 1996.

Sanderson, as many know, is one of the best college wrestlers of all time. He compiled an astounding 159-0 record for the Cyclones and won an Olympic gold medal at the 2004 games in Athens, Greece.

As a wrestler, Douglas competed as a featherweight at the 1964 and 1968 Olympics and placed fourth in 1964. He won a silver and a bronze medal at the 1966 and 1970 world championships, respectively, and retired later in 1970. After that Douglas coached several U.S Olympic teams and is one of only four collegiate coaches to win more than 400 dual meets.

He won an NCAA team national title at Arizona State. His coaching accomplishments include: 13 NCAA champions, 110 All-America performances and 68 conference titles.

Last week, Pat Pecora, a 1975 West Liberty grad, became the all-time wins leader in college wrestling when his University of Pitt-Johnstown squad defeated Mercyhurst University inside the Sports Center.

In was his 617th dual meet victory. He surpassed the late former Oregon State coach Dale Thomas, who had a 616-168-13 mark from 1956 to 1990.

Pecora’s teams only have had two losing seasons in his 44 years. The Mountain Cats went 4-12 in his first season in 1976-77 but bounced back with a 12-4 mark the next year. His 1990-91 team was 7-9. Since then, the Cats have produced 29 straight winning records, including this season at 19-3.

Pecora had a solid high school career at Serra Catholic and was a four-year starter and three-year all-conference wrestler at West Liberty College (now university). He twice qualified for the NAIA Tournament.

Greater Johnstown graduate Carlton Haselrig won six national titles while wrestling for Pecora and went on to a Pro Bowl career as a lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Haselrig won three titles apiece in NCAA Division I and II, leading to the so-called “Haselrig rule,” which prohibits Division II wrestlers from competing in the Division I championship tournament.

I have had the pleasure of meeting both individuals on numerous occasions, and while both are truly deserving of their wrestling accomplishments, they are also true gentlemen.

Congratulations Bobby and Pat!

Zeps Flying High

Congratulations are in order for the Shenandoah wrestling team, head coach Jesse Wells and his staff.

The Zeps became only the fourth OVAC school to advance to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Team Tournament when they captured the Division III, Region 22 championship at Alexander High School in Albany. The other three are Beaver Local, Shadyside and Steubenville.

Shenandoah will compete Sunday, Feb. 16 inside St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus. The Zeps are the No. 8 seed and will meet top-seeded Milan Edison in the quarterfinals.

Good luck.

Wilson ACC Wrestler of Week

Steubenville High graduate Tariq Wilson has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestler of the Week after his key victory helped the third-ranked Wolfpack to a 19-14 victory over No. 8 North Carolina last Friday.

Coming into the dual ranked 11th nationally at 141 pounds, the redshirt junior picked up his first top-10 win since 2018 as he defeated the Tar Heels’ No. 10 Zach Sherman, 6-0.

Wilson improved to a perfect 8-0 in duals this year, including a 3-0 ACC mark.

N.C. State (13-0 overall, 3-0 ACC) is the only team that remains unbeaten in ACC action. The Wolfpack will attempt to clinch at least a share of the ACC regular-season title this Friday when they entertain No. 7 Virginia Tech.

Congratulations.

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