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Despite ranking, Pitt wrestling has ways to go to reach nation's elite

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Despite an ugly 36-0 loss to Oklahoma State over the weekend, Pitt's wrestling team remained at No. 18 in the rankings. But while the Panthers are still among the better teams in the nation, the matchup against the Cowboys was another reminder of just how far they have to go to be considered elite.

While a few bouts were close, Pitt failed to win a single one this past weekend against Oklahoma State. But that meet was hardly the first time this season that the Panthers didn't exactly impress.

The team only lost one other time this year, but like Sunday's contest, that one wasn't close, either. Pitt dropped a 27-7 match to No. 6 Lehigh and while things weren't quite as bad as against Oklahoma State, they were soundly defeated in that one, too.

Further proof that the Panthers are pretty far from being an elite program has also come in some of the team's wins. Pitt narrowly defeated a 4-8 Maryland program, 16-15. Even Buffalo had an easier time with the Terps, winning by six at Maryland's Terrapin Duals back in November (the same event where Pitt faced them). The Panthers also had a difficult time with what looks to be a pretty weak 2-5 Duke program. To Pitt's credit, they did win and did so without arguably their top wrestler, Mikey Racciato. However, they trailed 19-17 and needed a win from heavyweight Ryan Solomon in the final bout to win the match. It goes without saying but both could have gone either way.

Heck, even the Panthers' statement win at this point, a 25-9 victory against then No. 15 Wisconsin looks less impressive as the Badgers are no longer ranked.

None of this is to suggest the wrestling program is a mess because it isn't. The Panthers are still ranked in the Top 20, had a nice win against the Badgers, and have also dominated many of their weaker opponents. They've finished in the Top 25 at the NCAA Championships the past four years. Their two losses are to teams in the six in the nation. The wrestling program has certainly had its share of highlights. But it's also pretty evident that the Panthers are nowhere near the NCAA's elite teams right now.

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