Pitt’s dual wrestling season got underway on Saturday as the No. 15 Panthers defeated Campbell, 28-6. The team’s season as a whole had already begun as they participated in the Michigan State Open last weekend. But this was the first head to head dual of the year.
Things got off to a slow start at 125 pounds with Louis Newell falling 11-8. But things would turn around after that — and in a hurry.
At 133 pounds, No. 4 Micky Phillippi got Pitt back on track with a 6-2 win to tie the dual at 3-3. The Panthers then took the lead with a stunning pin by freshman Cole Matthews at 141 pounds. Matthews is ranked No. 19 himself but his opponent, Josh Heil, was ranked several spots higher and the match was viewed as a tough one.
Matthews is one of the grapplers that a lot of folks are high on and when you start getting these guys that are ranked even as underclassmen like Pitt has with him, and with Phillippi and Bonaccorsi last year, you’re really laying the groundwork for a good foundation for years to come. If his match today was any indication of what to expect from him, his future looks really bright. It will be interesting to see how far he climbs in the rankings after the win.
The momentum continued at 149 pounds with another freshman, Luke Kemerer, winning 4-0 to put the Panthers up 12-3. And at 157 pounds, No. 16 Taleb Rahmani scored a 6-4 win to increase the lead to 15-3.
At 165, Jake Wentzel looked strong, building up a quick 6-0 lead on his way to a major decision win, pushing the lead to 19-3. Gregg Harvey grabbed an 8-4 win to make it 22-3, which clinched the team victory.
That set the stage for No. 6 Nino Bonaccorsi at 184 pounds. Bonaccorsi has All-American hopes this year but he was upset by an unranked wrestler, losing 11-8. Kellen Stout won 4-0 at 197 in one of his textbook, low-scoring bouts, to right the ship and make it 25-6. Heavyweight was another big matchup with No. 8 Demetrius Thomas of Pitt facing No. 7 Jere Heino. Thomas had a surprisingly easy time of things with a 10-3 decision for the 28-6 win.
The win was a good one for the Panthers. Campbell doesn’t seem like a team that would pose much of a challenge if you’re not familiar with wrestling but they have a few ranked wrestlers and several other matches looked like tossups. For Pitt to win this with the ease they did today is no doubt a good result.
The Bonaccorsi result was a bit disappointing, obviously. But that kid will be fine and 184 is hardly going to be a weight class giving the team concern this season.