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Pitt wrestling suffers disappointing finish in NCAA Tournament

Hosting the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh this year, the Pitt wrestling program had hoped for a good showing on the national stage. It was a great opportunity to show off the city and also the program, which is certainly improving. But in the end, it was a relatively disappointing finish for a program that had climbed into the Top 15 in the rankings this year.

Five of Pitt’s wrestlers made the NCAA Tournament but none earned the coveted All-American status (a top eight finish in your weight class). To walk away empty-handed in that regard was disappointing.

Freshmen Micky Phillippi and Nino Bonaccorsi got off to good starts, each winning their first two matches. But both then dropped two matches, falling just short of All-American status. Taleb Rahmani was upset early but then rebounded for three straight wins in the consolation bracket before losing and also coming just short of All-American status.

Heavyweight Demetrius Thomas won a match but was forced into the consolations in the second round where he lost his first match there. And junior Kellan Stout (197 pounds) lost both of his matches, going winless.

I really expected to see more from both Phillippi and Thomas, in particular. Those two guys arguably led the team this year and Phillippi was the No. 4 overall seed.

Add it all up and Pitt had only 9.5 team points, tying them for 34th.

Pitt obviously didn’t do all that well in the postseason, finishing fourth in the ACC Tournament out of six programs and finishing so poorly in the NCAAs. They proved they were capable of so much more so I can’t imagine those kinds of finishes made anyone real happy. The silver lining is that it was still a much better season than the disaster of last year and, finishing 13-3 in the dual season with a 3-3 record against ranked teams, the program is in better shape. They also return all five of their NCAA qualifiers and that should position them for an even better season next year.

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