On a night where the Fitzgerald Fieldhouse was filled with notable alumni and heavy hearts mourning the loss of beloved coach Rande Stottlemyer, the Pittsburgh wrestling team fell short to the ACC’s top ranked team, the Wolf Pack of North Carolina State. Despite a solid effort from the Panthers, No. 6 NC State took seven of ten, winning 23-9.
The mat, as well as Pitt’s warmups, had an “RS” insignia honoring the late coach.
“Effort was good in a lot of the matches.” Earlier in the season, Head coach Keith Gavin was often critical of his team’s effort, an area in the last few matches they’ve been able to show improvement. “Gregg Harvey sticks out, he wrestles hard, frustrates a lot of people because of his effort, he’s very stingy.” Harvey took on redshirt senior and third ranked Pete Renda. Despite the age and ranking discrepancies, Gregg was able to keep the match close at 5-2.
Dom Forys was the highlight of the night for Pitt, taking out No. 13 Tariq Wilson in an exciting back and forth affair, that ended with the score 7-5 in Dom’s favor. Pitt’s two other wins came at 125 where LJ Bentley defeated Tommy Cox 4-3 and at 197 where Zach Bruce took out Tyler Johnson 5-0. It should be noted however, that NC State did not wrestle 5th ranked Sean Fausz at 125, 2nd ranked Kevin Jack at 141, or 6th ranked Michael Macchiavello at 197. Although the backup at 141, Jamel Morris, who downed Nick Zanetta 12-8, is very talented and would start on almost any other team. It just so happens Jack, one of the favorites to win NCAAs, is in his weight class. Morris has a penchant for “gassing” in the third period, something Pitt fans have seen him do multiple times against Dom Forys, and again on Friday night versus Zanetta. Despite a flurry of effort and multiple late takedowns from the Pitt senior, Morris had just enough in the tank to close out the match on top.
Pitt could have easily won four additional matches, making the score 21-11 for the Panthers. Robert Lee scored an extremely late takedown to tie the score 4-4, but was unable to ride out No. 13 Beau Donahue to force overtime. Jake Wentzel was winning 2-0 after the first period but gave up six near fall points in the second period and ultimately lost 7-5. Ryan Solomon was tied with Michael Boykin 3-3 late in the third before giving up the last takedown. Zanetta needed just one more score against Morris. So, flip those four matches, and it’s a whole different story.
One area coach Gavin was critical of though, was mental mistakes. “We locked hands a couple times… some silly things we were giving up that we need to clean up.” He also alluded to the multiple reversals his wrestlers conceded, as well as the mysterious penalty point against Gregg Harvey.
When asked what Solomon needs to do to get back on track after losing to two straight unranked opponents, Gavin responded, “that [Boykin’s] good. He got second at the [Southern] Scuffle. He beat [Nick] Nevills. So we knew that was going to be a tough one for him. I thought he wrestled a lot better tonight than he did against UNC.” Outside of giving up the quick takedown, Gavin noted Solomon wrestled well, and feels confident about a potential rematch.
At 197 Zach Bruce started again in place of Kellan Stout, and at 174 Tommy O’Brien took over for Austin Bell. Both Bell and Stout have struggled this year, but Gavin assured that no decision is permanent right now.
“Kellan was in a bit of a slump and he was also way underweight… so we gave him some time to try to grow a little bit and focus on his training.”
“Austin has had a rough go at it so we wanted to see what Tommy can do. Nothing’s for sure there.”
Riley Barth (149), Nathan Russell (165), Nino Bonaccorsi (184), Kellan Stout (197), and Cole Rickert (285) will travel north on I-79 to compete in the Edinboro Open on Saturday. Gavin alluded that this could be an opportunity for Stout to get “on a roll” and possibly find his way back to the starting lineup.