This weekend, the No. 10 Pitt wrestling team concluded its regular season with a thrilling 18-13 win over No. 7 Virginia Tech.
The Panthers (10-4) had a challenging end to the season with duals against top ten teams North Carolina and Virginia Tech in back to back weekends. I selfishly wanted to see the team get a split there even if I knew it would be a challenge. The Panthers fell to North Carolina on Valentine’s Day, 22-14, but rebounded for the win over the Hokies (11-3) this past weekend.
The dual, as you might suspect, was not an easy one. And things didn’t look so hot early on with Virginia Tech taking three of the first four bouts. The reliable Micky Phillippi, the fifth-ranked 133-pounder, secured the lone win and even his 4-1 victory was more sound than it was dominant. Truthfully, Micky’s bouts are often like that. But trailing 10-3 in the team score, Pitt looked like it would have trouble.
Things turned around after that. At 157 pounds, Taleb Rahmani scored a come-from-behind upset win. Jake Wentzel lost a tough 2-1 bout at 165 pounds but then the Panthers reeled off four straight wins where you had a little bit of everything.
Gregg Harvey (174 pounds) was clearly battling an injury and still managed to gut out a win. And at 184 pounds, Nino Bonaccorsi scored the biggest win over the night with a really great victory against No. 2 Hunter Bolen, scoring late for a 10-8 overtime win. Kellen Stout and Demetrius Thomas both then cleaned up at 197 pounds and heavyweight to seal the win.
Overall, it was probably the most fulfilling match as a Pitt fan this season. It wasn’t their only big win, of course, as they defeated then No. 7 Lehigh early in the year while also easily defeating what is now a Top 20 Campbell team. But the Panthers haven’t beaten Virginia Tech since 2014 and given that it was the season finale with several guys stepping up and overachieving a bit, it had to be the best performance of the year, all things considered.
Pitt now will host the ACC Tournament on Sunday, March 8 at The Pete before heading to NCAAs after that. The Panthers have several guys that should contend for ACC titles and a few that could become All-Americans. Exciting times for the program as they’ve clearly found their way back to Top 10 status.