‘Murderer’s Row’ gave new life to Edinboro wrestling

By Tyler Trumbauer
Sports Editor/Spectator

A total of 487 wins, eight All-American medals, multiple top ten finishes in career wins, and the alltime pins leader in program history. This was all on the resume of Boro wrestling’s “Murderer’s Row.”

Additionally, it put Edinboro on the map.

The Scots’ “Murderer’s Row,” comprised of Kory Mines, A.J. Schopp, Mitchell Port, and Dave Habat,  was arguably the toughest four weight class stretch any team had this season.

The quartet received the nickname for what they could do on the mats, but that’s not where their impact ended, it extended throughout the wrestling room, McComb Fieldhouse, campus and the town of Edinboro.

“They’ve really put us up into another zip code,” head coach Tim Flynn said of the four grapplers. “We’ve been in the top five the last two years. There is a lot of work that goes into it. I think people take it for granted. These kids weren’t who they were last weekend when they came into visit us years ago. Those guys have really been instrumental in bringing Edinboro to where we are now, which is at the highest point in the history of the program. It’s kind of neat to watch it happen. The way they grew individually and as leaders. They’ve always had the work ethic. It was a fun ride for me.”

The ride was fun for the four as well. Mines finished with a career record of 88-56, was consistently in the national rankings and qualified twice for the national championships.

At 133 lbs., Schopp was one of the best wrestlers to ever wear an Edinboro singlet. The Tyrone, Pennsylvania native finished with a career mark of 133-17, a winning percentage of .887, good for second in school history, and 67 falls, tops in Edinboro history, the closest being Deonte Penn, with 53.

Additionally, Schopp qualified for nationals all four years and finished as a threetime All-American, finishing fourth twice and third at the last national championships.

“It’s awesome,” Schopp said of being a Fighting Scot. “I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s just awesome.”

Port, at 141 lbs., finished up his career in the Boro with a 122-17 record, four appearances at the national championships, three AllAmerican medals, two national runner ups and one third place finish. The accolades do not stop there finished its regular season with a 14-5 record in duals, a PSAC championship and a EWL title. Additionally, the Scots finished fourth at the Virginia Duals in January. One unknown who was a piece to the puzzle early on was Austin Matthews. The sophomore transfer from Clarion earned the start at 157 lbs. from the beginning and wowed local fans in the season-opening dual against Pitt, where he won a 7-4 decision. Matthews was 9-0 on the season before being sidelined with a knee injury after the EMU Duals in November. “I think the biggest thing from someone like that who comes into your program is his ability to accept what we are doing and how we are doing it,” Flynn said. “The way we work out, when we work out. He just embraced the program. That was big.” Matthews applied for a redshirt season from the NCAA and should return next season. Flynn and company will have Matthews for the future, but replaces multiple starters from this year’s lineup. Those individuals are Mines, Schopp, Port, and Habat, the starters at 125, 133, 141 and 149, respectively, who collectively earned the name, “Murderer’s Row,” around the world of wrestling for how dominant the foursome is. Collectively, the quartet has 487 career victories and eight All-American medals. Additionally, Kasey-Burnett Davis, who appeared multiple times this season and previously was a starter, also finished up his career at Edinboro. The Scots have a few returners and newcomers that hope to keep Edinboro at the top of the Division I wrestling landscape including Avery, Matthews, Pat Jennings, Vince Pickett and Sean Russell. They all have big shoes to fill, shoes Flynn likes Edinboro to wear. “It’s great, but there is so much work that goes into it,” Flynn said. “Next year we are going to have a lot of young guys and we will have to sit down and set goals for this next team and see what we can do.” as the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania native finished third in winning percentage at .866 and is tied for eighth in all-time wins in Edinboro history. He also finishes in ninth on the career pins list.

Port went 36-2 this past season, his only losses coming to Ohio State’s Logan Stieber, in the Feb. 15 dual against the Buckeyes and in the finals of the national championships last month.

Port’s practice partner, Dave Habat, emerged as the final member of “Murderer’s Row” last season. Habat earned All-Amercian status a year ago with his fourth-place finish at the national championships as he rose to the top of the wrestling landscape at 149 lbs. Habat qualified for nationals all four years of his career and finished with a 134-27 career record, good for fifth on the all-time wins list. The Parma, Ohio native peaked this season, climbing all the way to the top-seed at his weight in most national rankings by mid-season.

Habat reflected on his career in the Boro minutes after falling in the finals at the national championships.

“It was good,” he said, fighting back emotion. “We made each other better. I had fun competing. It’s been full of peaks and valleys. I enjoyed doing it with these guys and I’m happy with how I did. It was amazing. It was a great experience.”

Additionally, Habat talked about how being able to battle with Port daily helped me grow.

“I don’t know what Mitchell [Port] would say, but I know that I’d like to say that I think I’ve helped him a lot, and I can definitely say he’s helped me tremendously.”

The foursome overwhelmingly helped Edinboro wrestling as they all contributed to Edinboro’s top two best team finishes at the national championships in program history, culminating with the first national team trophy in school history with its third place finish last month in St. Louis.

Flynn summed up his senior class.

“Those kids are quality wrestlers, better kids and they are going to be hard to replace.”

Maybe impossible.

Tyler Trumbauer is the sports editor for the Spectator. He can be reached by sports.spectator@gmail.com or Twitter: @tylertrumbauer