College notebook: Johnston back in top form at WVU
Former PIAA champion Colin Johnston is making the most of his final season as a wrestler at West Virginia.
The 2006 Class AAA state champion at 112 pounds while at Canon-McMillan, Johnston is a sixth-year senior at WVU. After battling back from multiple shoulder injuries that have hampered his career, Johnston has a 22-7 record this season and is ranked No. 17 nationally at 141 pounds.
Johnston was named West Virginia’s Athlete of the Week Jan. 20 for his performance in the Mountaineers’ dual meet two days earlier against nationally ranked Oklahoma State. Johnston defeated the Cowboys’ No. 12-ranked Anthony Collica, 8-4.
Johnston took Collica to the mat twice in the first period. Collica recorded an escape and reversal to cut his deficit to 4-3 after one period, and scored an escape start the second period. Johnston then recorded his third takedown and turned Collica for a two back points to secure the victory.
It was the second consecutive win for Johnston over a ranked opponent. He defeated No. 20 Dan Neff of Lock Haven 12-7 on Jan. 4.
Johnston is second on the team with 39 points scored in dual meets and tied for second with seven falls, the latter a career high. He has a team-high 11 dual-meet victories, his lone loss coming to then-No. 19-ranked Joe Spisak of Virginia Nov. 2.
“I just started to get my mojo back, you can say. It’s clicking now,” Johnston recently told msnsports.net. “There are still things I have to work on, but I’m doing alright. I still have the same goals, and that’s to win a national championship. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.”
Johnston had a 164-10 career record at Canon-McMillan.
Westminster pole vaulter Marissa Kalsey of Waynesburg placed second out of 22 competitors Friday at the Youngstown State Invitational. The sophomore All-American and former PIAA champion cleared 12-7¼. Kasley defeated several competitors from NCAA Division I programs. The height was only four inches off the school record she set last year at the Indoor Nationals.
At the same meet, Westminster’s Andrew Brannen, a sophomore and Peters Township High School graduate, cleared 14-1¼ in the men’s pole vault. He finished in eighth place.
Westminster freshman Dan Pletz, a Venetia native and Peters Township graduate, set the Saint Vincent pool record Saturday while winning the 200-yard backstroke in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference meet against the Bearcats. Pletz won in 1:59.75 and helped the Titans to a 150-108 victory.
Westminster junior Jake Pletz, a Venetia native and Peters Township graduate, won the 200-yard freestyle (1:45.27) and 100-yard freestyle (48.61) in the Titans’ meet with SUNY Geneseo and Carnegie Mellon Jan. 18.
Morgan Kurtz, a sophomore guard from Washington, is having another big season for Penn State-Beaver. The Trinity graduate is averaging 13.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Lady Lions (7-9). Kurtz had been playing some of her best basketball of the season in January, putting up two games of at least 20 points during a three-game stretch.
Kurtz scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a 97-76 loss to Point Park Jan. 22. She made three shots from three-point range. After scoring 14 points in an 88-70 win Friday over Penn College, Kurtz had 20 points, seven rebounds and four steals Monday in an 86-75 loss to Penn State-Greater Allegheny.
Zachary Smith, a 6-3 sophomore guard/forward, is the leading scorer for the Westmoreland County Community College men’s team. A Donora native and Ringgold graduate, Smith is averaging 17.8 points per game and shooting 49.8 percent from the field. He has made 12 of 26 three-pointers.
Smith scored a season-high 32 points, on 12-for-18 shooting, in a Nov. 21 game against Penn State-DuBois.
• Emily Schmidt of Eighty Four is the second-leading scorer for the Chatham women’s team. A junior forward and Ringgold graduate, Schmidt is averaging 10.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. She also has a team-leading 29 blocked shots.
Schmidt had season highs of 22 points and nine rebounds Jan. 4 against Westminster. She also scored 20 points, making 10 of 12 shots from the field, Saturday against Saint Vincent.
Waynesburg senior outfielder Clay Roman was named a “Player to Watch” in NCAA Division III by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
Roman, a Bentleyville native and Bentworth graduate, was second in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference last season in runs (33) and hits (48), and was third on the Yellow Jackets in batting average (.336), slugging percentage (.378), on-base percentage (.381) and total bases (54).
Former Fort Cherry standout Sam Guidi, a junior at Waynesburg, was named the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Wrestler of the Week Jan. 12-18.
A returning national qualifier at 165 pounds, Guidi earned the Yellow Jackets’ fastest pin of the day during a quad match Jan. 18 at Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse. He pinned when Joe Knarr of Penn State-DuBois in only 1:41. Guidi followed that with victories over Messiah’s Stephen Cannon (7-0) Heidelberg’s Jeremy Stepp (3-0).
A McDonald native, Guidi has a 22-7 record that includes a 13-4 mark against NCAA Division III opponents.
Niki Augustine, a sophomore from Waynesburg, was the fifth-leading scorer for Allegheny’s North Coast Athletic Conference championship team. Augustine started all 21 games at forward for the Gators, who were 11-6-4 overall and 6-1-2 in the NCAC. She scored two goals, had one assist and 21 shots on goal.
Allegheny defeated Wittenberg 2-0 in the NCAC tournament championship game before falling to Thomas More 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.