Pitt wrestling falls short at NCAA championships

ICYMI, the NCAA wrestling championships were inexplicably held during the opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament. Like I wrote earlier, there has to be a better way to publicize the sport other than to put it shadow of hoops.

In any event, though, things didn't go Pitt's way. The Panthers went in with eight wrestlers that qualified but from the start, things came off the tracks pretty quickly. Tyler Wilps was the only wrestler that finished the first day without a defeat and was still in contention for a championship. The other seven guys all suffered a loss and were sent into the wrestleback (consolation) portion early on. That put Pitt at a real disadvantage in the team scores since Wilps was the only one available to win a title.

In the end, Wilps went on to take 7th place at 174 pounds and gain All-American status. The rest of Pitt's wrestlers, though, faltered early on in the wrestlebacks leaving Wilps as the only All-American. Wilps won four matches, while Anthony Zanetta (125), Max Thomusseit (184), and Nick Bonaccorsi (197) each won three.

The Panthers wound up with a total of 20 points and finished a disappointing 22nd in the event. On the surface that might not sound that bad, but for a program that climbed to sixth in the rankings during the season, knocked off a highly-ranked Oklahoma State team (who finished third), and won the ACC regular season title, it really left things a bit flat. In terms of the conference, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, and Maryland all finished ahead of the Panthers and it's easy to look at the finish as a disappointment.

The good news is that, as I wrote before, Pitt has a lot coming back for next season. The season ended on a relative low note, but there's a lot to look forward to next year.

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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