Pitt wrestling is getting its second transfer in a month, and another WPIAL one at that. Just a few weeks after the team announced Kellan Stout will be transferring from Penn State, Pittsburgh Sports Now has learned that Micky Phillippi will also be joining the Panthers, this time from Virginia. Phillippi is a Derry native and won Pennsylvania State titles in 2013, 2015, and 2016. His sophomore year he placed third after losing to Joey Gould of Bethlehem Catholic in the quarter finals, then wrestling all the way back to defeat Gould in the third-place match.
The Phillippi transfer is significant for Pitt in multiple ways. One, along with the Stout transfer, it could open a new WPIAL pipeline for recruiting, something that Pitt has often been criticized for not fully taking advantage of. Just in the last few years, many highly successful western Pennsylvania wrestlers have gone across, or out of state to compete in college. Jason Nolf (Penn State), Spencer Lee (Iowa), Luke Pletcher (Ohio State), Dalton Macri (Cornell/North Carolina), Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech), Josh Shields (Arizona State), and Michael Kemerer (Iowa) have all departed District VII (WPIAL). Perhaps these transfers will send a message to the rising upperclassmen in high school that you can accomplish your wrestling goals while only driving 25 minutes to do so.
Additionally, Phillippi will fill a hole in the Panthers lineup. Not this year, but with Dom Forys heading into his last year, and Phillippi competing in the same weight class (133), it appears he will be the next man up. Since he is transferring in-conference he will lose a year of eligibility. Phillippi will have three years remaining as he was only at UVA for one year, his redshirt year. Conceivably, he will be Pitt’s 133 pound starter in the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons.
There’s always the possibility that Forys will redshirt this year to end his career at home. As was announced a few months ago, Pittsburgh and PPG Paints Arena will host the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships. In that case, Dom would most likely move up to 141, still leaving 133 for Phillippi. A very favorable scenario.
Not to mention, the raw infusion of talent will benefit the rest of the room. As noted earlier, Phillippi was a 3x PA state champion, a very rare accomplishment. He finished his high school career with a record of 169-14. He was a 4x WPIAL champion. Seven of his fourteen losses were to Luke Pletcher, whom he finally beat in the Westmoreland County tournament his senior year. During his redshirt year he went 25-8, a very good season for a true freshman in college. Of note, he lost to No. 3 ranked Kaid Brock of Oklahoma State just 5-3. He lost to No. 4 Zane Richards of Illinois 8-4. He avenged his only loss at the PA state tournament (Joey Gould) with a 5-0 win at the Bucknell Open. He won the Cleveland State Open. As Jeff Upson of PA Power Wrestling wrote in 2015, he “is the best wrestler in the State from the top position”. On top of actually winning matches for the Panthers, Phillippi will elevate everyone else around him. As practice partners with LJ Bentley, Forys, and freshman KJ Fenstermacher, among the other lightweights, Phillippi will bring a new style to the room, and training with this highly accomplished wrestler will benefit many of his teammates.
Lastly, the Phillippi transfer shows faith in coach Gavin and coach Leen. They were both on staff at UVA when Phillippi was recruited and they were obviously a big factor in his choice. Now that they are both employed at the University of Pittsburgh, it only made sense for Phillippi to follow. This move shows how good of recruiters Gavin and Leen are, and how much their athletes value their instruction and leadership. For the sake of Pitt’s program, fans should hope this trend continues. Not necessarily getting transfers, but establishing their own recruiting base and not letting these kids leave in the first place. The WPIAL is widely regarded as the best wrestling region in the country, and Pitt is starting to stake its claim.