Unfortunately, the Pitt wrestling meet against Virginia wasn't available anywhere to watch, so this recap will be a bit less detailed because of that. But the Panthers pulled out a 19-14 win over conference foe Virginia on the road on Sunday to pull off the weekend sweep after defeating Iowa State Friday night.
Like Friday, we didn't start off with the 125-pounders. Instead, the dual started with the heavyweight level. There, Ryan Solomon was impressive, winning his bout, 11-1. L.J. Bentley continued to struggle, though, and was soundly defeated at 125 pounds, 15-1. Dom Forys won at 133 and Nick Zanetta at 141 lost to trade three-point decisions and Pitt found itself trailing, 8-7.
The Bentley stuff remains beyond frustrating. He's now 12-11 on the year and basically has become a toss-up guy, as I think I mentioned in the Iowa State recap. And losing by the likes of 15-1 really makes you wonder what's going on there. Last year, he was 19-12 overall and was an NCAA qualifier. He's still got two years of eligibility left so his career isn't over by any stretch. But to see him take such a pronounced step back after showing some good signs of things to come last season is kind of a head-scratcher.
Fortunately, things picked up a little after that. The Panthers got six big points out of Mikey Racciato (149 pounds) and Taleb Rahmani (157 pounds), who both won in Sudden Victory. Teshan Campbell was again impressive with a comfortable 9-2 win and that pushed the Panthers ahead, 16-8. Donovan McAfee, who has struggled since getting into the starting lineup at 174 pounds, lost as Virginia pulled to within five making it 16-11.
I'm not going to gush much more over Rahmani but the kid just keeps winning. He's now 18-6 on the year and has a team-high eight pins on the season with the one he got Friday. As I said earlier, I think that kid will have a good chance at being a ranked wrestler in the future.
That McAfee loss was big since it meant Pitt would need to win at least one of the final two bouts to win. Fortunately, Zach Bruce took care of that with a narrow victory at 184 pounds. John Rizzo's bout at 197 was inconsequential at that point and he lost, 3-2.
Add it up and Pitt walks away with a 19-14 win to move to 10-5 on the year. The Panthers are in decent position to move up in the rankings after going 2-0 this week.
Defeating Virginia gives the Panthers their first ACC win of the year. Having already lost to North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State, they are guaranteed to finish with a losing record in conference. The Panthers will finish the regular season at home against Duke next weekend and then jump into the ACC Tournament and ultimately, the NCAA Tournament.
From a team perspective, this year has been mostly a throwaway. With the Peters dismissal and suspensions, the season was sort of thrown into disarray. The good news is that, from an individual standpoint, Pitt should be sending several guys to the NCAA Tournament. And the three ranked guys, Forys, Campbell, and Solomon, should have a chance to contend for All-American status. The deeper they can go, along with possibly a couple of others, will be beneficial for Pitt's overall showing at the event.
After that begins the work of getting started with a new coach and laying the foundation to push this program to the next level.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.