The No. 18 Pitt wrestling team scored two impressive road victories this weekend. That moves the team to 8-0 on the season and is the best start the team has had in decades.
Specifically, the 7-0 start the team got off to after a win Saturday over No. 23 North Dakota State is the best start since 1986-87. The best start of all time for the program was in 1952-53 and 1955-56 when the program started the season with ten straight victories.
The Panthers first defeated North Dakota State on Saturday, 22-11. It was the team’s second win over a ranked opponent this year and Pitt closed out the dual with four straight wins in the heavier weight classes. In all, the Panthers lost only three of the ten bouts (125, 157, and 165 pounds). Those last two mentioned were notable in that No. 8 Taleb Rahmani was upset, 10-4, and Jake Wentzel nearly pulled off an upset against North Dakota State’s 20th ranked wrestler, Andrew Fogarty, losing a close one, 7-5.
Pitt then absolutely dominated South Dakota State on Sunday, cruising to a 34-0 beatdown. Obviously with the shutout, no Panthers lost their bout. The highlight there was unranked Robert Lee pulling off an upset, knocking of South Dakota State’s only ranked wrestler, No. 17 Henry Pohlmeyer, 6-2.
It was not only great to see Pitt’s ranked guys take care of business this weekend but the unranked guys continued to look good, too. As I mentioned before, that’s something Pitt has to get if they want to keep winning duals. L.J. Bentley won both of his bouts. Ditto for Lee, Gregg Harvey, and Kellen Stout. Stout, in particular, is a perfect 8-0 in the team’s duals this year, IIRC. The Panthers have four ranked guys and when they win, the team will, at a minimum, be competitive. But if they keep getting contributions in some of these other weight classes, they will be very difficult to beat.
Next up for the Panthers is a team that can certainly beat them, unfortunately, in No. 3 Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are a perfect 7-0 and have been dominating their opponents just as much as Pitt has. The pair have two common opponents in Oklahoma and South Dakota State. Both dominated South Dakota State but Oklahoma State had a far easier time with Oklahoma than Pitt did, winning 41-2 (Pitt won narrowly, 20-17).
Pitt gets the dual at home but the Cowboys will present quite the challenge. Anything is possible, though, as evidenced by the Panthers’ upset over then No. 5 Oklahoma State back in 2014.