Pitt's wrestling team continued its skid tonight with a 26-12 loss to No. 13 North Carolina.
The No. 21 Panthers needed to win some bouts early as the Tar Heels strength is in the middle of the lineup. They were able to do just that with Jake Gromacki and No. 17 ranked Dom Forys winning at the 125 and 133 weight classes, respectively. Forys' win was particularly dominant as he scored a pin to push Pitt's lead to 9-0. Things got out of hand after that, though, and Pitt couldn't recover. The Tar Heels won the next seven bouts and while several were close, the Panthers just had a difficult time of things.
For the Panthers, it's the team's fifth consecutive loss.
The final score could have been much different as the Panthers were right in several matches. Four of those seven consecutive losses were by a combined seven points. Ronnie Garbinsky dropped a one-point decision at 157 pounds and Nick Bonaccorsi dropped a really controversial match after a late takedown was awarded (reversing an initial call of no takedown as things were headed to overtime) at 197 pounds. Freshman Teshan Campbell, who has been impressive this year, lost to No. 2 Ethan Ramos after Ramos picked up some late points (the score was 1-1 in the third period). To say all three were close was an understatement.
Heavyweight Ryan Solomon won an 8-5 decision to close out the meet and make things a little more respectable.
The flipside of some of those close defeats is that there were some pretty ugly losses. Robert Lee had a tough matchup against the No. 5 ranked wrestler at 149 pounds and was pinned in just over a minute. Zach Bruce, who has had a decent season at 184 pounds was dominated against the No. 19 wrestler at his weight class, losing a major decision and looking pretty helpless. The fact is that even though Pitt had several close bouts, the Tar Heels were easily the better team overall.
The loss drops Pitt to 9-6 on the year and 1-3 in conference. It may not mean the Panthers fall out of the rankings since they lost to a top 15 team, but it's another one of those that shows the gap in between Pitt and the elite teams. The Panthers' recent slide in losing five consecutive meets isn't terrible when you consider they've fallen to four top 15 programs. Still, it's a stark reminder that there's a lot of work to do for Pitt to catch up to the better programs in college wrestling.
Next up for the Panthers is yet another difficult matchup against No. 19 Virginia at home next Friday night. Like tonight's dual, that one is on ESPN3.