The Pitt wrestling season officially came to a close this week at the NCAA championships. The Panthers had four entrants - Dom Forys (133 pounds) and Nick Zanetta (141 pounds) automatically qualified previously and heavyweight Ryan Solomon and Taleb Rahmani (157 pounds) also participated.
It was sort of an up and down trip, I guess. None of the four remained in the championship bracket and all were sent to the consolation rounds by the end of the first day.
Forys and Rahmani both won their first matches with pins to get off to great starts but Solomon and Zanetta drew tough bouts against a No. 1 seed and No. 3 seed, respectively, and were on the wrong end of major decisions. Forys (No. 11) dropped his second bout to No. 6 Scotty Parker of Lehigh and Rahmani had an equally frustrating time, facing No. 1 Hayden Hidlay again, narrowly losing for the second time in a few weeks to him (Hidlay narrowly defeated Rahmani at ACCs). That sent those two to the consolation rounds to join Zanetta and Solomon.
Once in the consolations, the Panthers had a little success. Zanetta and Solomon both won their first bouts there with Zanetta recording a 10-1 major win and Solomon upsetting No. 16 seed Matt Stencel. As everyone scored a victory on Day 1, that sent all four wrestlers to Day 2.
Continuing in the consolations on Day 2, Zanetta scored an upset win of No. 11 Luke Karam. But that would be the end of the team’s success.
Forys had a tough draw, facing No. 5 John Erneste, who had been upset on Day 1, and was pinned to end his day as well as his Pitt career. Rahmani, who had arguably the toughest draw of anyone in the field, faced No. 2 Joey Lavallee of Missouri, who was also upset on Day 1. Rahmani again lost a close bout, 6-4, and when it was all said and done, had dropped his last two matches to the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. Solomon would fall against No. 15 Thomas Haines and Zanetta would lose to No. 5 Kevin Jack of NC State to end their careers.
All told, here were the records of the Panthers at the event:
- Dom Forys (1-2)
- Taleb Rahmani (1-2)
- Ryan Solomon (1-2)
- Nick Zanetta (2-2)
Overall, it was a mostly disappointing season for the team. The Panthers were unranked by season’s end, were 4-11 in duals, finished last in the ACC Tournament, and had little success at nationals. Before the year, it was hoped that Forys and Solomon would contend for All-American status. While both had strong seasons, they both had relatively disappointing postseasons. Getting to nationals is an achievement, so hats off to these four guys for achieving that. But taking the season as a whole, new head coach Keith Gavin had a pretty bumpy ride.
Gavin is rebuilding the program and has some fresh faces next year that should help. But with the graduations of Forys, Solomon, and Zanetta, Pitt also loses a lot of production from this year’s team.