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Pitt Wrestling

Pitt Wrestling Exceeds Expectations in Vegas



It may not have been a jackpot, but Pitt certainly beat the house this past weekend in Sin City. The Panthers finished 7th out of 43 schools at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Pitt, who is not ranked on FloWrestling, finished ahead of five schools that are: Illinois, Cornell, Northwestern, Rutgers, and Virginia Tech. Pitt also beat every other ACC team that went, including Duke, Virginia, Va Tech, and North Carolina. If these scores hold at the ACC tournament, that would only leave NC State in the way of Pitt claiming its second ACC title.

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“It was a good tournament for us. I’m proud of the way our guys wrestled,” complimented head coach Keith Gavin. “They showed a lot of character and grit this weekend. We are on the right track and we’re anxious to get back to work.”

While the team result was undoubtedly a big story, two individual performances in particular stood out.

Everyone knows Micky Phillippi is good. Perhaps how good was still debatable. He answered a lot of those questions on Friday and Saturday. Micky beat three wrestlers ranked in front of him including No. 15 Cam Sykora, No. 7 Ethan Lizak, and No. 5 Luke Pletcher. Lizak is a two time All American and NCAA finalist, and Luke Pletcher placed 4th last year, earning All American status.

Micky is from Derry, and Pletcher from Latrobe, just five miles apart. The childhood friends have been training with each other since elementary school and wrestled in high school numerous times. Pletcher won every meeting except one, at the Westmoreland County tournament. Micky earned win number two this weekend with staunch defense in the first period during Pletcher’s attacks, and an expert ride in the third, reminiscent of that County Championship where Micky used a rideout in the ultimate tie breaker to win.

Phillippi’s win over Pletcher put him in the finals, where he faced second ranked and returning NCAA finalist Nick Suriano of Rutgers. Suriano controlled the match, but Micky’s performance was outstanding nonetheless.

Looking at the rankings at 133, the toughest weight this year, it seems reasonable to expect Micky will jump 5 to 6 spots to about 12th.

Pitt’s other outstanding individual effort came at heavyweight. Demetrius Thomas, unranked, and largely under the radar of the national wrestling community, put the rest of Division 1 on notice with three ranked wins, including two by fall. He also lost an overtime match to Zach Elam of Missouri, who is ranked by some services, but not all. “Meech” wrestled an incredible NINE matches over two days, earning him the “weekend warrior” award for losing his first bout, then coming all the way back to the 3rd place match.

Like Phillippi, Meech will move up in the rankings, from unranked to around 13th most likely. It isn’t often someone transfers from an NAIA school and finds instant D1 success. Pitt may have struck gold with Thomas.

Taleb Rahmani and Nino Bonaccorsi were the other two Panthers to place. Taleb finished 5th with a solid 12-4 win over Eric Barone from Illinois, and a very impressive win over 7th ranked Kennedy Monday from UNC. Monday beat Taleb last year and made it to the round of 12 at NCAAs as a freshman. This is a good sign of progression for Taleb.

Freshman Nino Bonaccorsi took the mat by storm notching three straight wins including a major over Jelani Embree of Michigan. This set up a showdown with No. 3 Taylor Venz in the quarterfinals. Nino was mauling the returning All American, with four takedowns through the first two periods. Starting the 3rd winning 8-4 with riding time essentially locked, Nino took neutral, and as he does, almost immediately shot again. This time, the pin-savvy Venz used a head-arm hold and leg over to pin Nino, ending the upset bid. In the consolations, Nino lost to Latrobe native, senior, and All American Zack Zavatsky, then handled UVA’s Will Schany for 7th.


125 – Brendon Fenton (0-2)
PG Rd. 1: #5 Sean Russell (MIN) tech. fall Brendon Fenton (UP), 20-5, 6:41
Cons. Rd. 32: Korbin Meink (CAM) dec. Brendon Fenton (UP), 8-7
133 – #17 Micky Phillippi (4-1) – RUNNER-UP
Rd. of 32: Micky Phillippi (UP) maj. dec. Yoshito Funakoshi (CP), 16-6
Rd. of 16: Micky Phillippi (UP) dec. #17 Cam Sykora (NDSU), 6-2
QF: Micky Phillippi (UP) dec. #7 Ethan Lizak (MIN), 4-0
SF: Micky Phillippi (UP) dec. #5 Luke Pletcher (OSU), 2-1
FINAL: #2 Nick Suriano (RUT) maj. dec. Micky Phillippi (UP), 11-3
141 – LJ Bentley (3-2)
PG Rd. 1: Yahya Thomas (NU) def. LJ Bentley (UP), SV-1, 2-0
Cons. Rd. 32: LJ Bentley (UP) maj. dec. Owen Lamb (CAM), 15-3
Cons. Rd. 16: LJ Bentley (UP) dec. Michael Venosa (CORN), 4-1
Cons. Rd. 8: LJ Bentley (UP) dec. Taylor Ortz (CLA), 4-3
Cons. #2 Rd. 8: #15 Dom Demas (OU) dec. LJ Bentley (UP), 11-5
149 – Robert Lee (1-2)
PG Rd. 1: Robert Lee (UP) dec. Christian Kenzler (ILL), 5-1
Rd. of 32: #8 Brock Zacherl (CU) dec. Robert Lee, 7-3
Cons. Rd. 16: Brock Wilson (HAR) dec. Robert Lee (UP), 9-5
157 – (5) #10 Taleb Rahmani (4-2) – FIFTH PLACE
Rd. of 32: Taleb Rahmani (UP) pins Chris Mauriello (HOF), 5:39
Rd. of 16: Taleb Rahmani (UP) dec. Dewey Krueger (WYO), 7-3
QF: Taleb Rahmani (UP) maj. dec. Eric Barone (ILL), 12-4
SF: #18 Griffin Parriott (PU) dec. Taleb Rahmani (UP), 5-3
Cons. SF: #5 Ke-Shawn Hayes (OSU) dec. Taleb Rahmani (UP), 7-5
Fifth Place Match: Taleb Rahmani (UP) dec. #7 Kennedy Monday (UNC), 9-2
165 – (12) #18 Jake Wentzel (3-2)
Rd. of 32: Jake Wentzel (UP) dec. Jeremy Thomas (OU), 4-2
Rd. of 16: #14 Joey Gunther (ILL) dec. Jake Wentzel (UP), 3-2
Cons. Rd. 16: Jake Wentzel (UP) maj. dec. Mikil Dawkins (COR), 12-0
Cons. Rd. 8: Jake Wentzel (UP) dec. Tanner Skidgel (NAVY), 9-2
Cons. #2 Rd. 8: #15 Connor Flynn (MIZ) dec. Jake Wentzel (UP), 8-6
174 – Gregg Harvey (1-2)
Rd. of 32: Gregg Harvey (UP) dec. Hayden Hastings (WYO), 4-3
Rd. of 16: #11 Mikey Labriola (NEB) dec. Gregg Harvey (UP), 7-2
Cons. Rd. 16: Colt Doyle (OSU) dec. Gregg Harvey (UP), 6-4
184 – (7) #13 Nino Bonaccorsi (5-2) – SEVENTH PLACE
PG Rd. 1: Nino Bonaccorsi (UP) dec. Will Schany (UVA), 8-6
Rd. of 32: Nino Bonaccorsi (UP) def. Kayne MacCallum (OU), SV-1, 7-5
Rd. of 16: Nino Bonaccorsi (UP) maj. dec. Jelani Embree (UM), 18-9
QF: #3 Taylor Venz (NEB) pins Nino Bonaccorsi (UP), 5:59
Cons. #2 Rd. 8: Nino Bonaccorsi (UP) maj. dec. Jordan Atienza (CMU), 13-3
Cons. SF: #4 Zack Zavatsky (VT) dec. Nino Bonaccorsi (UP), 6-2
7th Place Match: Nino Bonaccorsi (UP) maj. dec. Will Schany (UVA), 14-3
197 – Kellan Stout (1-2)
Rd. of 32: Zack Chakonis (NU) dec. Kellan Stout (UP), 2-0
Cons. Rd. 16; Kellan Stout (UP) dec. Nezar Heddad (HOF), 7-0
Cons. Rd. 16: Tom Lane (CP) pins Kellan Stout (UP), 6:28
285 – Demetrius Thomas (7-2) – FOURTH PLACE
PG Rd. 1: Jarrod Hinrichs (UNK) def. Demetrius Thomas (UP), SV-1, 8-6
Cons. Rd. 32: Demetrius Thomas (UP) maj. dec. Zach Schrader (CBU), 10-2
Cons. Rd. 16: Demetrius Thomas (UP) pins #11 Jeramy Sweany (COR), 1:52
Cons. Rd. 16: Demetrius Thomas (UP) maj. dec. Niko Camacho (AU), 10-1
Cons. Rd. 8: Demetrius Thomas (UP) maj. dec. John Borst (VT), 10-2
Cons. #2 Rd. 8: Demetrius Thomas (UP) pins #13 Matt Stencel (CMU), 2:04
Cons. Rd. 4: Demetrius Thomas (UP) pins Brian Andrews (WYO), 6:54
Cons. SF: Demetrius Thomas (UP) def. #12 Cory Daniel (UNC), TB-2, 3-1
Cons. Finals: Zach Elam (MIZ) dec. Demetrius Thomas (UP), 3-1

*Note, rankings were changed to reflect FloWrestling’s latest edition, where as the Pitt SID uses Intermat

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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