Pitt’s No. 10 wrestling team had a stiff challenge going up against undefeated No. 4 NC State. The Panthers competed well but ultimately lost, 21-12.
First things first, I didn’t get to a recap of the Pitt-Duke dual last week, which was Pitt’s first ACC matchup of the season. The Panthers had zero trouble at all and, with Duke forfeiting four of the ten bouts, it was basically over before it began and Pitt cruised to an easy 50-0 win — not something you see everyday.
The North Carolina State match started at 197 pounds with Kellen Stout getting off to a solid start with an early takedown. Stout was really tough on top, as he often is, and picked up the riding time point for a 5-3 win to put Pitt (7-3) up 3-0 over NC State (12-0). Stout is only 7-7 on the year but he’s probably more impressive than that record would indicate. He’s faced a good amount of top competition and while he’s not elite, he can hold his own with most guys. Most of his matches, as I’ve written before, are so low-scoring and that means he can be competitive against just about anyone save for maybe the really elite guys.
Next up was No. 8 Demetrius Thomas at Heavyweight against an unranked wrestler. He continued the momentum going with a 6-2 win to put the Panthers up 6-0.
Up at 125 pounds was Louis Newell, who’s shown some promise but is still a toss-up much of the time. The defensive theme was continued here early with the only first period scoring a late takedown by Newell. Things looked promising with a 3-0 lead but Newell gave up a late takedown and then a second in the final period on his way to a 11-3 loss. The disappointing thing here were four late near fall points that Newell gave up to turn a three-point team loss into a four-point one with the major decision. That made it 6-4 on the team score.
At 133 pounds, No. 6 Micky Phillippi really had more trouble with an unranked wrestler than was probably expected. Just another tough defensive bout and after the first two periods, Phillippi was only up 1-0. But Phillippi picked up a takedown and went on to a 4-0 win to push Pitt’s lead to 9-4.
At 141 pounds, Pitt looked to pull of a shocker with Cole Matthews picking up an early takedown against NC State’s No. 11 Tariq Wilson. Matthews not only got the takedown but rode Wilson through the end of the period. Matthews was so good on top in that first period that, given the option, Wilson actually chose to start neutral, giving up the chance for an escape point. That proved to be a good decision for him as he then took down Matthews to tie the bout up at 2-2 and he rode Matthews out.
Matthews chose to start down in an effort to pick up the escape point and, well, it didn’t work out. He was ridden out the entire period and gave up two near fall points to boot, losing 4-2.
Much will be made of Gavin’s decision to tell Matthews to start down. It’s a tough decision, though. If he starts neutral there, you run the risk of going to overtime or, of course, losing with a takedown anyway. You start bottom and get an escape early, you potentially can win with the escape point. I don’t know — regardless, it didn’t work out. That cut Pitt’s lead to 9-7.
After the break, Luke Kemerer was up at 149 pounds against another unranked wrestler. Things were close in the second period but he gave up a takedown and four near fall points in the second to get down 4-0 on his way to a 7-0 loss. That put NC State up 10-9 and from here, things came off the tracks.
At 157 pounds, Pitt’s Taleb Rahmani had a tough task wtih No. 2 Hayden Hidlay. Hidlay had little trouble with Rahmani pulling out a 16-1 technical fall win to put NC State up 15-9.
165 pounds was a key matchup with No. 12 Jake Wentzel for Pitt taking on No. 13 Thomas Bullard. It was a competitive bout but Wentzel ultimately fell, 3-1 and Pitt trailed 18-9.
At 174 pounds, Gregg Harvey was up against No. 16 Daniel Bullard of NC State. This was maybe the most entertaining bout of the night. It was back and forth and trailing by one late, Harvey scored a takedown and then rode his opponent for a thrilling 9-8 win. I’ve really been impressed with Harvey this season and he’s a kid that’s just gotten better. He’s not elite but has really made the 174-pound weight one that Pitt is highly competitive in. Just a great win for him tonight over a ranked opponent.
Closing things out was No. 7 Nino Bonaccorsi up against No. 3 Trent Hidlay of NC State. Down 18-12, Pitt needed a pin here to have any chance of winning the team score. Bonaccorsi was competitive but dropped his bout 6-3 to close things out.
All in all, you can’t complain much here. NC State is one of the top programs in the country and, winning four out of ten bouts with a lot of close matches, Pitt held their own.
Next up, will be a dual against Virginia on Friday night. That one will be on the ACC Network.
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