The Pitt wrestling team got off to a fast start at the 2018 ACC Wrestling Championships. In the first round, the Panthers sent seven wrestlers to the semifinals round and even led in the team scoring at that point.
Then things took a nosedive.
Pitt struggled badly in the semifinals with all seven wrestlers losing. Among them was an upset loss by No. 1 seed Dom Forys (133 pounds) and a concussion suffered by heavyweight Ryan Solomon, ending his day completely. With no chance for any ACC titles, Pitt’s chances to compete in the overall scoring disappeared. The Panthers ended up finishing the day in last place with 33 1⁄2 points, just behind Virginia (34). Virginia Tech (81 points) edged NC State (73) to win the title.
In the consolation rounds, a few guys rebounded to reach the podium. Forys, LJ Bentley (125 pounds), and Nick Zanetta (141 pounds) were a combined 5-0 as each captured third place to finish strong. Last year’s ACC champ at 157 pounds, Taleb Rahmani, as well as Gregg Harvey (184 pounds) went 1-1 in the consolations to finish fourth. Both won their first match but then lost in the third-place matches.
When you look at the seeding coming in, Pitt had one good shot to win an ACC title with Forys. Aside from him, all of the Panthers that advanced past the opening round faced No. 1 seeds in the semifinals so Pitt would need an upset to even send another guy to the finals. That’s the problem with having so many lower seeds. Those do happen, though, as we saw with Dom.
As head coach Keith Gavin discussed after the match, losing Solomon was a killer. From a team standpoint, if he finishes, Pitt probably would have probably finished fifth instead of sixth in the team scoring. That’s pretty minor but his injury hurts badly on an individual level. He’s one of the team’s best wrestlers and was in a group of heavyweights where five of the six would be automatic bids to get to the NCAAs. If healthy, Solomon would not have finished in last place and would have been guaranteed a spot. But the medical forfeit now forces him to hope for an at-large bid. Many guys are in that category after the ACC Tournament, actually. The only ones to receive an automatic bid were Forys and Zanetta.
At-large bids will be announced in the coming week and NCAAs are March 15-17 in Cleveland.