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Pitt wrestling ends roller coaster of regular season with loss to Clarion

Photo used with permission of University of Pittsburgh athletics department -

Pitt's wrestling team has been on a bit of a roller coaster this season. There were highs (wins against ranked Virginia and Wisconsin programs) and lows (loss to unranked West Virginia and several blowouts against ranked teams) and the regular season ended with another low in a loss to Clarion.

Pitt fell on criteria after the score was tied 18-18 following the final bout. The Panthers finish the year 10-7 with the loss while Clarion improved to only 7-12. It was easily the team's worst loss of this season.

Early on, it looked like there was little chance of a Panthers loss. L.J. Bentley (125 pounds) and Dom Forys (133) dominated the first two bouts to give Pitt a 9-0 lead. After some back and forth, the Panthers were up 15-6 with wins by Robert Lee (149) and Cody Wiercioch (165). However, after losses at 174 pounds from TeShan Campbell and 184 by Zach Bruce (who was pinned), things were tied up. Nick Bonaccorsi lost in sudden victory at 197 pounds and Ryan Solomon, as he's done a few times for the program, rescued the team with a win at the heavyweight level. That tied things 18-18 but Pitt lost on criteria to give Clarion a stunning win. According to Clarion's Twitter account, the Bruce pin was the determining factor in the Panthers' loss.

The Pitt wrestling Twitter account has a live breakdown of the event as it occurred.

One note from today's action was that Mikey Racciato didn't go at 141 pounds. Not sure what happened there, but if you remember, he suffered a disappointing loss on Friday against Virginia. One of the announcers wondered at the time during the broadcast if he was 100%, but who knows. Regardless of what happened, that forced Nick Zanetta in, who ended up dropping his bout. If a healthy Racciato goes there, the end result could have been a different one.

As has been discussed several times this season, this is a pretty young squad. Only two wrestlers are starting for the team and Pitt should return just about everyone of significance. Still, you never want to see losses like these and it's particularly painful just as the team had just knocked off No. 20 ranked Virginia. With the Virginia win and this loss, it will be interesting to see if Pitt (currently No. 24) closes out the season in the Top 25.

Next up for the team is the ACC Championships on March 6th. Those will be televised on ESPN3 and we'll have the seedings when they are released.

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