Lock Haven University’s Fred Garcia had a breakout season last winter for the Bald Eagles’ wrestling team, qualifying for the NCAA Championships for the first time and winning a career-high 28 matches.
The Donora native and former Ringgold High School standout is on pace to eclipse the victory total this season.
A redshirt junior who wrestles at 184 pounds, Garcia has an 18-4 record and is ranked No. 19 nationally in his weight class. Garcia has a 7-0 record in dual meets and was one of only two Lock Haven wrestlers to record a victory in a 34-6 loss to No. 1-ranked Penn State. Garcia recently placed second at the Cradle Gear Invitational hosted by Lock Haven. He lost to nationally ranked John Rizqallah of Michigan State, 7-4, in the finals.
In his career, Garcia has a 62-25 record. Last year, Garcia won his weight class at the PSAC Championships and had a runner-up finish at the Eastern Wrestling League tournament.
At Ringgold, Garcia was a three-time section champion and set the Rams’ all-time wins record with 124.
Two local athletes swept the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Week awards that were announced Monday.
Jake Pletz of Venetia, a junior at Westminster, was named the Men’s Swimmer of the Week after helping the Titans remain undefeated (6-0) by winning the 100 (48.76) and 200 (1:46.77) freestyles in a 119-83 victory over Rollins (Fla.) last Wednesday. A Peters Township graduate, Pletz also was part of Westminster’s 200 medley relay team that won in a time of 1:39.23.
Lauren Cassano of Venetia, a junior at Grove City, was selected as the PAC Women’s Swimmer of the Week after posting two individual wins and helping secure a relay victory in the Wolverines’ 150-133 win over conference rival Washington & Jefferson. Cassano won the 100 backstroke in 1:02.63 and the 200 backstroke in 2:17.01. She also led off Grove City’s winning 200 medley relay team (1:52.04).
Brothers Gus and Francis Mizia are two reasons why Mercyhurst is ranked No. 11 in NCAA Division II and second in the Super Region ratings. The former standouts at Bentworth have a combined 25-7 record for the Lakers.
A sophomore, Gus Mizia, has a 13-4 record and is ranked 3rd in the region at 174 pounds. He has a team-leading five technical falls. Francis Mizia, a redshirt freshman, is 5th in the region at 157 pounds. He also is fourth on the team with four pins and third with 56 team points.
Former PIAA champion Colin Johnston is having a big senior season for West Virginia. The Canon-McMillan graduate has a 21-5 record while wrestling at 141 pounds for the Mountaineers.
Johnston has a 10-1 record in dual meets and leads the team with 24 takedowns. He also is second on the Mountaineers in both major decisions (4) and pins (7).
Derrick Evanovich of Venetia is a sophomore at the University of Maryland. Wrestling at 149 pounds, the Peters Township graduate has a 4-7 record and was in the Terrapins’ lineup for a recent Atlantic Coast Conference match against Pitt.
Evanovich set the Peters Township career wins record with 124 and was a WPIAL Class AAA champion.
Two local wrestlers have seen action this season for Pitt, which is ranked No. 12.
Derrick Nelson, a redshirt sophomore from Waynesburg, has a 7-4 record at 133 pounds. Five of the seven wins have come via fall.
Cody Wiercioch, a three-time PIAA champion and a Canon-McMillan graduate, has a 4-1 record at 165 pounds.
Former Trinity standout Josh Valentic is the leading scorer for Allegheny.
A 6-3 junior guard, Valentic is averaging 12.8 points per game and shooting 34 percent from three-point range. He has started all 13 games for the Gators (3-10).
Valentic averaged 10.7 points and made 17 starts for Allegheny last season, his first with the Gators after transferring from Wheeling Jesuit.
In Allegheny’s season opener Nov. 15, Valentic scored a career-high 28 points in the Gators’ 77-67 win over Alama. He also scored 23 points against Case Western Reserve and made five three-pointer in a 17-point performance against Kenyon.
Sarah Grippi, a sophomore center from Venetia, is the leading rebounder and second-leading scorer for Mount Union’s women’s team.
Grippi, a Peters Township graduate, is averaging 5.0 rebounds and 8.1 points per game for the Purple Raiders (7-6). She is shooting 60.6 percent from the field. Grippi had a career-high 20 points Dec. 29 in a 75-72 loss to Adrian (Mich.). She made seven of eight shots in the game.
Mikayla Sonneborn of West Finley and a West Greene graduate, won her heat in the mile run last weekend at the UAB Blazer Invite in Birmingham, Ala.
A sophomore at Tulane, Sonneborn made her season debut Friday night, winning the heat in 5:21.39. Sonneborn has a career best of 5:11.64 in the indoor mile, which she set at last year’s Conference USA Indoor Championships.