The No. 10 Pitt wrestling team was back in action Friday and gutted out a 23-10 win over Virginia.
Up first was Louis Newell for Pitt at 125 pounds. Newell had a tough task, obviously, with Virginia’s Jack Mueller ranked No. 2 in the nation and a national title contender. Things went about as poorly as you might expect as it was just a very tough matchup for Newell. He got down 10-0 to start the match, giving up two sets of four back points and never threatened. He did avoid the pin but lost 15-0 to put the Panthers down 5-0.
Pitt rebounded at 133 pounds with No. 6 Micky Phillippi facing an unranked wrestler. Phillippi actually got out to a slow start, trailing 2-0 early but he came back with takedowns late in both the first and second period on his way to an 8-4 win. If you’re Pitt, obviously, you’re hoping for bonus point here. But you also gladly take the win and that cut Virginia’s lead to 5-3.
At 141, Pitt’s Cole Matthews was in a bit of a tossup match with another unranked wrestler. There wasn’t a ton of scoring but it was a very entertaining match. Cole Matthews scored a late escape after being ridden much of the third period and then grabbed a takedown. He was called for locked hands, however, and was forced to hold on for the final eight seconds without giving up an escape to score a 4-3 win and put the Panthers up 6-5.
Next at 149 pounds was Dallas Bulsak, who got the start in place of Luke Kemerer, who had been going there. This was another unranked matchup and there was little scoring. This was a pretty unique match as Bulsak had option in the second period and chose to start neutral as opposed to starting down in the hopes to gain an escape point. In the third period, we saw why because his opponent also declined to start down and also chose to start on top, believing he could more easily keep Bulsak down and gain a riding time point as opposed to starting down and trying for the escape point.
Bulsak never got free and ended up losing 1-0. Just a really frustrating match if you’re Pitt and that put Virginia back up 8-6.
Taleb Rahmani got Pitt back on track with a takedown and four near fall points to go up 6-0 after the first period on his way to a 7-5 win to give Pitt the 9-8 lead. At 165 pounds, Pitt’s No. 12 Jake Wentzel, who put together a very solid overall match, winning 8-2 to extend Pitt’s lead to 12-8. No. 17 Gregg Harvey was up at 174 pounds and kept the momentum going with an 8-3 win as Pitt went up 15-8.
At 184, No. 6 Nino Bonaccorsi had zero trouble. He was playing catch and release early on, grabbing three quick takedowns, cutting his opponent loose twice to accumulate more points. That theme continued the whole match as Bonaccorsi rolled to a 19-7 win, giving Pitt a major win to push the lead to 19-8. After that, it was announced that Virginia lost a team point with a coaching violation, extending the lead to 19-7.
Kellen Stout had a tough challenge at 197 pounds, facing No. 10 Jay Aiello. But he more than held his own in one of his typical defensive matches and it was 1-1 in the final seconds. But Stout gave up a late takedown to fall 3-1. Kind of a disappointing finish but if you’re Pitt, you take your chances with that 1-1 score that late and Stout, as he usually does, competed and, avoiding a pin, that sealed the team win for Pitt.
Finishing the dual was No. 8 heavyweight Demetrius Thomas. Thomas wasn’t at his best early and found himself in a 4-4 tie as the first period was coming to a close. But he scored a late takedown as time expired, going up 6-4. He rode his opponent the entire second period and he had no trouble after that, picking up a 13-4 win.
Really solid effort for Pitt here as they took seven of the ten bouts. Just a very workmanlike performance. It was said during the dual but there was nothing real flashy about it. Not many bonus points just going out there and winning bouts.
Pitt is now 8-3 on the year and has its final non-conference dual of the year on Sunday, taking on Davidson at home.