Miller passes century mark in J-M’s wins

January 30, 2013
Jefferson-Morgan fans raise signs to celebrate Jason Miller’s 100th career win in a 145 pound bout. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

JEFFERSON – The wait was almost unbearable for Jason Miller.

The 138-pound junior for Jefferson-Morgan was closing in on 100 career victories over the weekend but came up one win shy in the Bedford Tournament.

Worse, Miller let the pressure get to him in that event, as he finished sixth.

On a rainy Wednesday night in front of the home crowd, Miller got wins No. 100 and 101 of his career as the Rockets advanced to the semifinals of the WPIAL Class AA Team Tournament.

Miller pinned Dakota Umphrey in 59 seconds in the Rockets’ 47-29 victory over Avella to join the Century Club, then won by 16-0 technical fall over Nick Croyle in the Rockets’ 50-22 victory against Kittanning in the quarterfinals.

The Rockets will take on No. 2 seed South Fayette in a 6 p.m. dual meet in Friday’s semifinals at Chartiers Valley High School. Chartiers-Houston will meet Burrell in the other semifinal.

“It was in my head a little bit,” said Miller, whose career record is 101-31. “Once I was on the mat, I tried to put it out of my head.”

But the fans weren’t going to let him. When he pinned Umphrey, they lifted signs into the air celebrating the event.

“I was clueless,” said Miller. “I saw it, but I tried to ignore it.”

“I had no idea they planned that,” said Jefferson-Morgan head coach Scott Rhodes.

Miller became the 15th wrestler at Jefferson-Morgan to reach 100 wins.

“I thought he would get it at Bedford, but he had a rough time of it,” Rhodes said. “It’s tough. That sort of looms over you. But it was nice to get it in our gym.”

The dual meet with Kittanning was anticlimactic, because the Wildcats forfeited three lightweight bouts and at 182, where the match began.

“The injuries accumulated over the season,” said Kittanning head coach Brandon Newell. “We had to overcome 24 points. I tried to prepare the kids as best as I could.”

Dustin Conti (195) and Ryan Zalar (152) had pins for Jeff-Morgan (11-4), which never trailed and had a 36-9 lead after Kittanning’s final forfeit.

“(The forfeits) were unfortunate for them, because they are really a good team,” said Rhodes. “We saw them at the Gateway Tournament at the beginning of the season, and they were really good. That’s what happens with injuries, and it’s a shame.”

In the win over Avella, J-M got four forfeits from the Eagles. The Rockets did get pins from Ryan Zalar (152) and Bill Bowlen (170). Luke Lloyd (120) and Derek Allen (220) had pins for the Eagles (6-4).

Kittanning reached the quarterfinals with a 41-24 win over West Greene. The Pioneers were hurt by having no wrestlers at 106 and 120, which turned into no matches. Sheldon Phillips (113) and Matt Johnston (145) each had a pin for West Greene (3-5).

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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