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Latrobe’s Luke Pletcher Continues Olympic Prep with Strong Showing at PWC2

Latrobe’s Luke Pletcher Continues Olympic Prep with Strong Showing at PWC2

Luke Pletcher, a Latrobe, Pennsylvania native, and member of the Pittsburgh Wrestling Club, and Dymond Guilford of the Titan Mercury WC were among the top senior-level performers on the PWC2 card, presented by PWC on Tuesday night.

In the final match of the card, Pletcher jumped ahead with a strong first period, then controlled the action on the way to a 7-1 decision over Dean Heil of the Navy-Marine Corps RTC at 67 kg. Pletcher was happy with the win, but knows he was far from perfect.

“I felt good, (but) I squeezed too much,” Pletcher said after his match. “My offense was going well in the first. I got him moving then I shut down and squeezed. That’s why I got tired, and I just gotta fix it. I got caught holding my lead. That’s an issue I need to fix, and fix it now.”

In the first period, Pletcher scored a two-point exposure, a step-out and a single leg takedown, only giving up a step out to Heil, to lead 5-1 at the break. In the second period, Pletcher had a strong defense and was able to secure a spin behind takedown to close out the match at 7-1.

Pletcher was a three-time All-American at Ohio State, and is making his Olympic run with PWC. Heil won two NCAA titles for Oklahoma State, and is now training with the Navy-Marine Corps RTC under new Navy coach Cary Kolat. It was the second straight PWC card where Pletcher won a main event, after stopping David Habat of Slovenia in PWC 1 in December.

In a battle of top Olympic hopefuls in women’s freestyle, 2020 U23 Nationals champion Dymond Guilford of Titan Mercury WC scored a second-period takedown to win a close 4-2 match over two-time World Team member Victoria Francis of Titan Mercury WC at 78 kg.

Guilford opened the match with a high single leg takedown to lead 2-0, but Francis scored a spin-behind takedown in the closing seconds of the first period to knot it up at 2-2 at the break. Guilford secured a single leg takedown in the second period and held off a hard-driving Francis late for the two-point victory.

Guilford, too, expressed a need for improvement during her post-match interview. In Guilford’s case, she wants to get her conditioning in a better place as she prepares to make a run at Tokyo 2021 Medal.

“Conditioning (was my biggest takeaway),” Guilford said post-match. “I was so thankful for wrestling her (Victoria Francis) today. She showed me that I need to step up something when I get to the Olympic Trials so that I’m definite that I’ll win.”

The duo may face each other again at the Captains’ Cup in February. Francis was one of the captains, and selected her own team for the competition. Guilford was the No. 1 pick in the draft for Tamyra Mensah-Stock’s team.

In other action, Chance Marsteller, a two-time All-American for Lock Haven, opened up an impressive offense in a 10-0 technical fall over Wisconsin’s two-time All-American Evan Wick of the Titan Mercury WC at 79 kg. Marsteller opened the match with a two-point exposure and added two ankle laces for a 6-0 lead. After a takedown, Marsteller got the ankle lace again to close out the technical fall.

In his interview after the bout, Marsteller dedicated the win to his friend Mikey Racciato, the former Pitt wrestler who recently passed away at age 26. Marsteller also made reference in his interview that, once he realized that there is more to like than wrestling, that is when he actually became a better competitor on the mat. That realizion allows him to grapple more freely.

In an active battle of big men, another PWC star put on a show, when Demitrius Thomas scored a 15-5 technical fall over Max Lacey of Costa Rica at 120 kg. Thomas jumped to an 9-0 lead, including a four-point throw on a body lock, plus a takedown and a head pinch turn. Lacey answered with a big five-point throw to close it to 9-5. Thomas iced the match with another four-pointer of his own and a go behind takedown to finish off the win.

Thomas, not pleased with his performance at the PWC1 card on Dec. 22, came out firing on all cylinders on Tuesday in an offensively-charged match in an effort to reacquire his “competitive edge,” something Thomas said he thought he lacked the last time out on the mat.

“I’m still hungry,” Thomas said after the match. “I just want more, that’s all.”

In the first senior-level match on the card, Lock Haven’s 2018 NCAA runner-up Ronnie Perry of the Mat-Town won in a wild comeback for an 11-11 criteria decision over former Campbell star Quentin Perez of the Navy-Marine Corps RTC at 75 kg.

Perez led 8-2 at the break, scoring two takedowns and two tilts in the first period, with Perry getting one takedown. In the second period, Perry started chipping away with three straight takedowns, closing the Perez lead to 9-8. Perez scored a tilt with a Perry reversal to make it 11-9. A takedown by Perry in the closing seconds.

It was Perry’s first major competition since competing in the 2018 NCAA finals. Perry currently serves as the head women’s coach at Lock Haven. In his interview, Perry called out Marsteller for a match on a future card.

“If they (the Lock Haven women’s wrestling team, where Perry is the head coach) were watching, I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff that they’re gonna have me working on in the room this week,” Perry said during his after the match. “It was tough, but fun though.”

A card of seven youth and middle school folkstyle matches were held at the start of the card, featuring tough and talented athletes from the region, including Pennsylvania and Ohio athletes.

Bo Bassett, a seventh grader from the Young Guns Club in Pennsylvania, won two matches against opponents from Ohio. He opened the card with a 19-4 technical fall over T.J. Clinton at 110 pounds. In the final youth match, Bo Bassett returned for a second bout, beating Brody Saccoccia in an 18-3 technical fall.

Bassett’s young brother Keegan won his match at 80 pounds, in an 11-1 major decision over Conner Whitley. Other winners were Nico Kapusta (70), Cash Mitchell (75), Melvin Miller (90) and Devon Margo (125).

For both the Young Guns’ wrestlers and the Bassett siblings, the event would be akin to a family affair as the Bassetts’ competed alongside their cousin tonight, 90-pounder, Marvin Miller.

As a club, Young Guns’ youth grapplers went 7-0, winning all seven bouts. Both Pletcher and Nico Megaludis, who was a broadcaster for the event — alongside alongside Zeb Miller, and Hannah Mears — were also a former Young Guns’ competitors during their respective youth careers.

PWC2 Results

110 lbs.- Bo Bassett tech. fall T.J. Clinton, 19-4
70 lbs. – Nico Kapusta dec. Chase Karenbauer, 8-6
75 lbs. – Cash Mitchell dec. Tino Scuillo, 2-0
80 lbs. – Keegan Bassett maj. dec. Conner Whitely, 11-1
90 lbs. – Melvin Miller maj. dec. Carter Beck, 9-1
125 lbs. – Devon Margo dec. Jared Goldberg, 9-2
110 lbs. – Bo Bassett tech. fall Brody Saccoccia, 18-3
75 kg – Ronnie Perry (Mat Town WC) dec. Quentin Perez (Navy-Marine Corps RTC), 11-11
120 kg – Demetrius Thomas (Pittsburgh WC) tech. fall Max Lacey (Costa Rica), 15-5
79 kg – Chance Marsteller tech. fall Evan Wick (TMWC/WRTC), 10-0
78 kg – Dymond Guilford (TMWC) dec.Victoria Francis (TMWC), 4-2
67 kg – Luke Pletcher (Pittsburgh WC) dec. Dean Heil (Navy-Marine Corps RTC), 7-1

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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