After a hiatus lasting nearly three weeks, Pitt's wrestling program got back on the mat on Friday, facing No. 10 Lehigh on the road. The Panthers needed several bouts to break their way and that didn't happen as Lehigh went away with a 27-7 win.
For what it's worth, Pitt did get off to a fast start. While freshman L.J. Bentley lost his matchup at 125 points, Pitt took the next two. 133-pounder Dom Forys scored a 22-10 major decision to tie things up at 4-4 and Mikey Racciato upset No. 8 Randy Cruz at 141 pounds, 3-2, giving the Panthers a 7-4 overall lead. As the announcers pointed out, they likely needed Forys to win his match to have a chance at winning. That happened and with Racciato's victory, the Panthers had just about a good of a start as could be reasonably hoped for.
Unfortunately things went downhill from there with Pitt losing their next seven bouts to account for the final score.
If you're looking for a silver lining here, it's that the Panthers were pretty competitive in several of the matches. Freshman Robert Lee (149 pounds) was tied in his bout 5-5 before losing late, 7-5. At 165 pounds, Cody Wiercioch had a 3-0 lead in the third period before losing out, 4-3, falling due to riding time. At 174 pounds, freshman TeShan Campbell narrowly lost his bout 5-2 after it was tied 2-2 heading into the third period. Pitt's only ranked wrestler, heavyweight Ryan Solomon (#19), lost to #16 Max Wessell in a narrow 3-2 decision.
If even a couple of those bouts go Pitt's way, the score is much more respectable. That 27-7 loss looks bad on paper, but if you watched the meet like I did, you saw the Panthers keep things mostly pretty close on an individual basis.
Overall, it was a tough matchup fo the Panthers. They are starting four freshmen and seven underclassmen. This is clearly a rebuilding year for Pitt and when you face a program with six ranked wrestlers in the Top 20, it makes it very difficult to win. But the mere fact that the Panthers were in most of their matches is a good sign.
With the loss, the wrestling program falls to 3-1 on the year after that undefeated start. Next up for the wrestling program is the Keystone Classic in Philly on Sunday.