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No. 24 Pitt wrestling falls to North Carolina, 20-16

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

Pitt's wrestling got back onto the mat after getting a split last weekend, losing to Virginia Tech and defeating VMI. Unfortunately, the Panthers dropped a close one, losing 20-16 to North Carolina.

The Panthers got off to a good start with L.J. Bentley putting together a strong match at 125 pounds to put the team up 3-0 early. But Pitt quickly slid after that. Dom Forys, perhaps the team's best wrestler, was MIA at 133 pounds.

The announcers mentioned his absence but did not talk of an injury. Regardless of the reason he wasn't in there, though, his absence really hurt. Instead of picking up a probable win, Pitt recently brought back a former wrestler to the team, Brendan Price, to fill a hole at that weight class. The Panthers had to forfeit at the 133-pound weight class last weekend, so really just didn't want to give up those points. Pitt avoided that but Price didn't do too much and was beaten badly, 21-9 to give up a major decision. If Forys goes and wins, that's a seven-point swing right now, as was mentioned during the broadcast. And, as you can see from the final score, that would mean a Pitt team win if the other results remained the same.

Robert Lee and Mike Racciato dropped their bouts as well to put Pitt behind 11-3. Racciato's loss was particularly troublesome since he had a 5-1 lead despite not wrestling in the past month, reportedly due to a suspension.

Still, Pitt had life. Taleb Rahmani, who is looking pretty good this year, picked up an 8-2 win at 157 pounds. He's been pretty impressive this season and is 15-5 on the year. Teshan Campbell, about as much of a sure thing as Pitt has these days, scored yet another major decision, easily winning 9-1. And despite Cam Jacobson being pinned by ACC Champion Ethan Ramos, the Panthers recovered with a win by Zach Bruce at 184.

That brought the score to only 17-13, still giving Pit to chance to win the dual. Those hopes ended, however, with John Rizzo losing at 197 pounds, 10-4. That put things out of reach for Pitt and Solomon's 4-3 win didn't matter.

The wrestling program, obviously, is one in flux here. There are some guys that wouldn't normally be in there, Racciato was just back from a suspension, and just missing out on some major decisions hurt, too. There are several weight classes that still need to be sorted out. Pitt was throttled by No. 5 Virginia Tech last weekend, 38-9, and won't be competing for an ACC title this year. This season, for Pitt as a team, is really all about finding its next coach, developing the younger guys, and getting guys like Campbell, Solomon, and assuming he gets back, Forys, to hopefully go far into the NCAAs.

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