BRADFORD, Pa. – For the first time in history, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will host a home NCAA wrestling event Saturday, Jan. 12.
"I'm really excited about competing at home this weekend for the first time ever," Head Coach Colin Johnston said. "We have two really competitive teams coming in on Saturday. I think this is a great thing for Pitt-Bradford as a school and as a community to have wrestling competing for the first time."
The first-year program will host Thiel and SUNY Brockport for a tri-meet at the KOA Arena Saturday, marking the first time the NCAA Division III program will compete in front of its home fans.
In August 2017, the Pitt-Bradford Department of Athletics announced the addition of wrestling as an NCAA varsity sport after competing at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) club level.
Johnston was hired as the first head wrestling coach a few months later, coming to Pitt-Bradford in March after serving as an assistant coach at Davidson College.
The Eighty-Four, Pa., native built up a team comprised of transfers, new freshmen and Pitt-Bradford club wrestlers. Pitt-Bradford competed in its first-ever NCAA event at Penn State-Behrend in a dual meet on Nov. 2.
"Watching the wrestling team evolve from an NCWA club program to an NCAA Division III team has been incredible," said Mitch Dowd, a sophomore who qualified for NCWA Nationals in 2018 as a Panther. "I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in expanding this team. Having our first true home match feels like a milestone for our new program and I am extremely excited to represent Pitt-Bradford this weekend. I look forward to seeing the support from the students, staff, and fans of the sport who come out to cheer us on."
Fittingly, just as the inaugural regular season started, the Panthers will host Penn State-Behrend for a dual meet Wednesday, Feb. 6, to close out the season, marking two opportunities to catch the Pitt-Bradford wrestlers hit the mat at the KOA Arena live.
"With wrestling being such a popular sport in this area, I think it gives a great opportunity for local younger wrestlers to look up to these Pitt-Bradford wrestlers," Johnston concluded.
Action Saturday at the KOA Arena will begin at 1 p.m.