The Panthers had several different ‘classes’ of wrestlers competing this weekend: a redshirt, an ineligible, and several high school commits. Nino Bonaccorsi, the true freshman from Bethel Park who is redshirting, and Micky Phillippi, who is ineligible due to transfer rules, both headed to Chicago to compete in the 55th installment of the Midlands Championships.
Nino and Micky had practically identical tournaments. They both won their first two matches, then lost in the quarterfinals. Micky notched wins over Tristin DeVincenzo from Penn and Phillip Laux of Iowa before falling to the No. 2 seed Scott Delvecchio from Rutgers. There were some heated words exchanged after the match, although it was not audible on the computer. More on that later.
Nino won his first match in dominant fashion over Kendall Elfstrum from Princeton before facing Dakota Geer of Edinboro for the third time this year. The two Pennsylvania natives are both redshirting this year, and seem to run into each other at every tournament. Geer took the first match, but Nino has claimed the last two, including this weekend by a 5-4 mark in overtime. This set up a match with graduate entry Nate Jackson, formerly of Indiana, now competing for the Princeton Wrestling Club. Jackson was a two time All American for the Hoosiers and has a considerable age advantage on Bonaccorsi. Nino wrestled him tough, scoring a third period takedown and almost getting two more, but ultimately fell 7-4.
In the consolation bracket, Phillippi and Bono both ran off three straight wins to make it to the third-place match, although one of Nino’s “wins” was by medical forfeit as Nick Gravina from Rutgers was too injured to wrestle. As hinted to earlier, Micky would have a rematch with Delvecchio for third. A closer match this time, they went to overtime tied 1-1. I missed the takedown that gave Delvecchio the win, but apparently it was at least somewhat contentious, as Micky and Delvecchio were in each other’s faces again, pushing and shoving, and engaging in animated conversation. The refs had to separate them. Again though, couldn’t quite hear what they were saying.
Nino’s third place match, although void of controversy, would also not go as planned. He lost to senior and 14th ranked Jordan Ellingwood of Central Michigan 7-0. Placing fourth in a major tournament as a true freshman and only losing to a senior and graduate entry is very impressive. Same with Micky; he only lost to one guy, and that guy is pretty good. It’s going to be fun with both of them in the lineup next year.
Pitt also had four commits compete this weekend at the prestigious Powerade Invitational at Canon-McMillan High School. Although all four wrestled in the finals, the maximum number of titles the future Panthers could collect was three, as Reynolds senior Cole Matthews faced Wyoming Seminary senior Jack Davis at 138. Matthews was victorious with a 3-1 OT win. “It feels good.” This was Matthews’ second straight Powerade title, and repeating was a must for him: “It would have left a sick taste in my mouth if I wouldn’t have won.” Cole is looking forward to getting all these recruits in the same room at Pitt and working with the coaching staff. “[They] have all the tools and everything in their power to make us great athletes and better wrestlers… give it a year or two and we’re going to be pretty darn good.”
“Pitt’s looking pretty promising right now, I can tell you that.”
Up next was Luke Kemerer at 145. He faced Frankie Gissendanner from Penfield, New York. After a quick takedown Gissendanner went on the defensive, effectively countering Luke’s attempts to score by repeatedly diving to the leg and forcing a stalemate. Despite a flurry of activity and a nice scramble at the end, Gissendanner held on to win 4-2, but not without some questionable officiating. A stark contrast to college rules, Gissendanner did not get called for stalling one time, allowing him to keep repeating the same move with no intention of scoring. This is a rule in high school wrestling that needs fixed sooner than later. Luke did not address this in our post-match interview. Instead he focused on what he needs to do to get better. He noted he needs to work on his finishes and getting out from bottom. These simple things will help him get ready for states and the transition to college. Along with Cole, Luke also seemed very excited for the future, and commented on the character of the recruiting class.
“It’s definitely looking bright. I know those guys pretty well, I know they’re hard workers and they’re great kids off the mat too which is huge for college wrestling, living the right lifestyle. So coach Gavin got a great group of guys.”
Pitt’s last recruit to compete was Louis Newell of Seneca Valley, who faced hometown favorite Logan Macri of the Big Macs. Although there is no hard data to back this up, Canon-Mac wrestlers always seem to fare well in the Powerade finals. Check this link out for example. Heading to the third period, Newell was trailing 1-0. Choosing down was the obvious choice and that’s what Newell did. However, with about 10 seconds left it appeared Macri was going to ride him out for the win. Refusing to be shutout, Newell escaped with one second left to send it to overtime. Macri scored rather quickly in the sudden death period, ending a very entertaining match.
Notable non-Pitt notes from Midlands and Powerade:
- Gavin Teasdale of Jefferson Morgan lost his first high school match ever. He was previously 138-0 and on track to be just the seventh 4x Powerade champion of all time. Of course, this match was not without controversy as well:
- This photo is a screen-shot off Flowrestling.
It shows Teasdale almost scoring with one second left to win. A couple reasons why the ref was correct: according to high school rules they were out of bounds, and Teasdale did not have full control of the right ankle. That close though.
- Spencer Lee also lost this weekend. An extremely rare occurrence, the three-time Powerade, State, and World Champ is redshirting this season for Iowa. He lost in the Midlands semifinals to Ronnie Bresser of Oregon State. Even more so than Teasdale, Lee has a legitimate claim that he lost on a botched call. According to this tweet from Jason Bryant, the official coordinator admitted as much. Or just watch the video. Clear reversal in my opinion.
- Franklin Regional had five entrants at Midlands, four semifinalists, two finalists, one champion, and one third place finisher. Spencer Lee, Tyler Smith, Michael Kemerer, Josh Shields, and Josh Maruca comprised the Franklin alumni. Kemerer and Shields faced each other in the finals, with Kemerer winning 5-2. Smith placed third and Lee defaulted out of the tournament after losing in the semis.
- Seth Gross, the returning NCAA finalist at 133, went tech fall, fall, tech fall, tech fall, tech fall, fall to win Midlands. I would be shocked if he’s not the National Champion this year.