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Pitt wrestling dominates in 28-9 win over Duke to finish regular season

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Photo used with permission of the University of Pittsburgh Athletics Department (www.pittsburghpanthers.com)

Pitt's wrestling team concluded its 2016 regular season with an easy 28-9 win over Duke.

There weren't any announcers this week so it was a little more difficult to keep up with everything if you're not used to watching the sport. The P.A. guy would call out the scoring but he didn't update the scoring and it wasn't on the screen. Also sort of a problem was that both teams had dark singlets on so that didn't help terribly, either, when just glancing at the action if you aren't too familiar with the team.

Things started at 149 pounds this week with Mikey Racciato. Mikey's match, as they have been this year, was a really back and forth affair. At times he looked in control and others looked like would take a loss. He ended up prevailing 11-9, though, and the team got off to a good start.

Taleb Rahmani and Teshan Campbell both continued that hot start with two consecutive pins to give the Panthers a 15-0 start. Not sure I've seen that this year but either way, it's a rare occurrence. We all know Campbell, who is ranked No. 9, is a star. But as I keep saying week after week, Rahmani just continues to improve. He leads the team in pins and scored yet another one tonight.

Donovan McAfee was next up at 174 pounds, who dropped a pretty slow decision. Pitt continues to need more out of this weight class. At 184 pounds, Zach Bruce lost a tough bout in overtime and that made it a 15-6 team lead for Pitt.

Senior John Rizzo got things back on track with a pretty dominant win 5-0. He had his opponent down for most of, if not all, of the second period and quickly escaped when down to start the third. Mix in a couple of takedowns and some stalling calls on his opponent and it made for an easy win. His career has been a little up and down so it was great to see him get a shutout on Senior Day to put the Panthers up 18-6.

We got the highlight of the match with Ryan Solomon taking on No. 3 Jacob Kasper at heavyweight. Kasper hadn't lost in 20 bouts so to say he's good is an understatement. Solomon scored a takedown and after a pair of escapes by Kasper (out of that hold and then after starting down in the second period), Solomon scored a reversal and grabbed a 4-3 win. Solomon has spent most, if not all, of the year in the rankings and at No. 19 in the country is no slouch. But this was still a very big upset and will gain Solomon a ton of respect going forward. I don't know what else happened in conference, but an ACC Wrestler of the Week award seems possible. After that bout, Pitt was ahead 21-6 heading into the lower weight classes.

L.J. Bentley added a quality 3-1 victory and Dom Forys easily won 14-3, picking up a major decision. After a 6-1 loss by Nick Zanetta, the Panthers won 28-9.

All in all, it was a pretty topsy turvy year. The team was only 2-3 in the conference season but several guys have good momentum heading into the ACC Tournament. They finished the regular season 11-5 and now it's all about trying to win some individual ACC titles and seeding guys for the NCAAs.

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