Don't look now, but the best team on Pitt's campus doesn't compete at the Petersen Events Center or Heinz Field. Instead, they host their matches at the Fitzgerald Field House, and they're one of the ten best teams in the nation.
While some Panther fans were likely readying for the Pitt basketball team's re-match against the Maryland Terrapins Saturday night, the eighth-ranked Pitt wrestling team were taking on another ranked team for the second straight week.
Riding high off of a nail-biting 19-18 victory last Sunday over perennial wrestling powerhouse Oklahoma State – ranked fifth in the nation at the time– the Panthers wrestlers displayed an inspired effort at the Fitz and easily knocked off No. 13 Virginia, 25-9.
Pitt received wins from Anthony Zanetta, Edgar Bright, Mickey Racciato, Tyler Wilps, Max Thomusseit, Nick Bonaccorsi, and P.J. Tasser, with Racciato's victory coming via the pin.
The win caps off a solid week for the team, as the senior heavyweight Tasser – whose 3-1 overtime victory over Oklahoma State's Austin Marsden clinched Pitt's upset victory on Sunday – was named ACC Wrestler of the Week, the first wrestler in program history to win the award in the conference.
The win improves the Panthers' record to 10-1, with their only loss coming to the top-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions at State College in early December.
The team is exceeding the expectations of most this year, particularly after long-time coach Rande Stottlemyer retired last spring, leaving his assistant of ten years Jason Peters at the helm. The roster currently sports five wrestlers ranked in the top 25 in their weight classes: Shelton Mack (17th, 133), Bright (19th, 141), Wilps (7th, 174), Thomusseit (6th, 184), and Bonaccorsi (18th, 197).
The Panthers, who could move up the rankings further this week, will head down to Morgantown next Sunday for an actual series of "Backyard Brawls" where they will take on the rival West Virginia Mountaineers.