Pitt Wrestling: With young talent, future of wrestling program bright

Despite a rough weekend last Friday and Saturday, Pitt's wrestling program has had an amazing season. The Panthers climbed up to No. 6 in the polls and even with losses to ranked Edinboro and Michigan squads, Pitt is 12-3 on the year with four wins over ranked programs, including Oklahoma State, Lehigh, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

The season isn't over and the Panthers have already clinched a share of the ACC title as well.

But just as exciting as this year has been, the future of the program is extremely bright, too. Five of Pitt's ten starters are freshmen or sophomores. Two of them are even ranked in the Top 20 - No. 17 Edgar Bright at 141 pounds and No. 18 Nick Bonaccorsi at 197 pounds. Mikey Racciato (149 pounds), Ronnie Garbinsky (157 pounds), and Geno Morelli (165 pounds) are the other three and have all had some success this season as well.

Looking immediately to next season, Pitt will also return arguably their two best wrestlers - sixth-ranked Max Thomusseit (184 pounds) and seventh-ranked Tyler Wilps (174 pounds) as both are juniors. But even beyond next year, with five underclassmen starters on the team, this is a program that should be a strong one for years to come.

In addition, Pitt has redshirt sophomore John Rizzo on board. Rizzo came over to Pitt after transferring from Temple. He played football there but wanted to get back into wrestling. He was a three-time PIAA champion and could figure into the mix next year, too.

The Panthers will lose seniors P.J. Tasser, Shelton Mack, and Anthony Zanetta. That's going to hurt as all three are ranked in the Top 20. Still, with so much young talent on board, there's good reason to think Pitt's wrestling program will continue to be a player.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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