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Pitt wrestling finishes big weekend, faces No. 8 Oklahoma State on Sunday

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Photo used with permission of the University of Pittsburgh athletics department - www.pittsburghpanthers.com

I really, really (really) wanted to get to what the Pitt wrestling team did last weekend much earlier, but never did. The Panthers, though, had three big dual meets against North Carolina, Duke, and Drexel. As expected, they won all three. The margin of victory, however, left a lot to be desired since none of those opponents were ranked.

Pitt topped North Carolina only 21-15 and Duke only 20-15, before winning more comfortably against Drexel, 27-12. The first two meets came down to the final match involving the heavyweights (more on that in a bit). You hate to see things end up that close against unranked teams, but Pitt was at a big disadvantage, forfeiting at the 141-pound weight level in all three duals.

Edgar Bright is the usual man there, but not sure what happened. Head coach Jason Peters addressed it afterwards, but didn't give much away:

"Anytime you can start the conference 2-0 and finish the day with a non-conference win it's really good. I'm disappointed we had to wrestle with nine guys, but the circumstances played out that way and that's what we decided to do. You're always caught in the middle - should you pull guys out of a redshirt, what should you do - and we were able to find a win today with the team that we had. So we're thankful."

Not sure if Edgar didn't make weight and they just didn't have someone else to available, or what. It's worth noting that he was all the way up in the 149-pound weight class for the Southern Scuffle the weekend before, so not sure if that was a factor or not. Either way, it's pretty rough to have to give up six points in each meet because you can't find someone to go. Outside of Bright, Pitt has only Travis Shaffer at the 141-pound class, and he's already used a redshirt, so he must have been unavailable as well.

But things worked out for Peters and the Panthers with the 3-0 record. Pitt had a few heroes on the day. Tyler Wilps and Max Thomusseit both posted 3-0 records, but to me, a couple of freshmen had even bigger days despite those two each recording a fall.

Freshman Dom Forys continues to impress at 125 pounds. He went 3-0 as well, and also recorded a fall and two major decisions. The conference even recognized what he did, naming him the ACC Wrestler of the Week. The other guy that really came through big didn't win three matches, but his victories assured the team of wins - heavyweight Ryan Solomon. Solomon was left to deal with all the pressure at the end of the North Carolina and Duke duals as Pitt held narrow leads and could have lost if he didn't win his bouts. He came through both times (with a last-second takedown and a tiebreaker, no less) and secured the wins before sitting out the Drexel meet. And when you consider he is only a redshirt freshman, you've got to give him a lot of credit.

Next up for Pitt is another match against a ranked opponent - No. 8 Oklahoma State. After a thrilling upset win against the Cowboys at home last year, Pitt travels there for a big dual on Sunday. Oklahoma State is only 3-2 on the year, but their two losses have come to the No. 1 and 2 teams in the nation - Minnesota and Iowa ... thus the lofty ranking.

The Panthers will have their hands full in several weight classes as the Cowboys boast a ranked wrestler in nearly every one according to InterMat's rankings, headlined by the top wrestler in the nation at 165 pounds in Alex Dieringer. If Pitt can keep things close until the later bouts, they'll have a good chance to win. The Panthers appear to have advantages at 174 (Wilps), 184 (Thomusseit), and 197 (Bonaccorsi). That might be easier said than done as they are at a significant disadvantage in those classes, but if they can avoid pins or major decisions, the chance could be there for another Pitt win.

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