Pitt wrestling wrapped up its regular season with a hard-fought win over ACC foe Virginia 20-15. Pitt finished with a dual record of 13-3 overall, and 3-2 in the ACC. The final ACC standings feature co-champs and co-third place finishers. North Carolina State and North Carolina will share the title, with Pitt and Virginia Tech tying for third. Virginia finishes 5th, and Duke last with an 0-5 record.
“It was a good way to end the regular season,” reflected head coach Keith Gavin. “Our guys wrestled tough today. Now we focus on getting the most out of each day and keep improving for the ACC Championships.”
You could almost make an argument there could be a sentimental four-way tie for first, considering Pitt’s match with UNC came down to a penalty point, and NC State’s match with Va Tech came down to the tie breakers. NC State only beat UNC 20-14, and UNC slipped past Va Tech 18-14.
There’s only one way to properly visualize this:
|NC State||UNC||Pitt||Va Tech||UVA||Duke|
|Lost to Pitt||Lost to NC State||Lost to Va Tech/UNC||Lost to UNC/NC State|
Any way you look at it though, the conference was extremely close this year, with every program heading in a positive direction. Surely a sign of good things to come.
The extra G in Gregg Harvey’s name is actually borrowed from O.G. (lame, I know). Seriously though, Gregg wrestled an astounding 11 minutes with the dual on the line, and never blinked once. That’s mental toughness personified. He was closer to scoring throughout the match, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Wrestling Robert Patrick from Ligonier, or “li-gone-yay” as the announcer pronounced it, each wrestler traded an escape to send the bout to overtime tied 1-1. After no score in the first sudden victory period, first set of rideouts, or second sudden victory period, Harvey rode Patrick out for his 30 seconds on top in the second set of rideouts. Patrick wasn’t able to ride Harvey for more than a few seconds during the match, so elected to put him neutral when it was his choice, vying for a takedown instead. Harvey already had a stall call against him, so he couldn’t back up or go out of bounds without risking giving up a point.
He managed to slow down Patrick with heavy hand fighting, and kept good positioning. Patrick didn’t come close to scoring, and Harvey won 3-2, securing the dual in Pitt’s favor. This was the fifth time this year Pitt won a dual in the last match, only this time with Harvey doing his best Meech impression.
Micky Phillippi was teammates and workout partners with Louie Hayes when he wrestled for UVA, so there was definitely some familiarity. This was evidenced when Hayes chose neutral in the third, showing respect for Micky’s riding ability. Despite another ridiculous hands-to-the-face call against Phillippi, the Pitt freshman came away victorious with a controlling 6-1 win.
LJ Bentley had a key win, taking out Scott Kiyono 7-4. Kiyono and Sam Krivus (Hempfield) were both warming up, but UVA head coach Steve Garland elected to go with Kiyono. This match featured some high flying scrambles, with LJ coming out on top almost every time.
Filling in for the injured Robert Lee, Dallas Bulsak looked the better wrestler in the first period, but got ridden out all of the second and third, and surrendered back points. If they meet again, Dallas will surely choose neutral, which could alter the course of the match, possibly enough to flip the result.
Taleb Rahmani wrestled a classic Taleb match. He scored 14 points, but didn’t get the major, thanks mostly to giving up a sloppy takedown at the end of the first. He hit his misdirection single at least three times, but did not finish on all of them. Coach Gavin is fond of that move, and wants Taleb to hit it more consistently.
Nino Bonaccorsi beat Will Schany 10-7 back in November at the CKLV. He beat him 12-3 on Friday. Nino was absolutely dominant, and heads to the ACC tournament with some momentum.
At 197, Kellan Stout faced off against 10th ranked Jay Aiello. He almost took him down in the first, and entered the third only losing 2-1. He ended up losing 3-1 with riding time, but Kellan is just a few adjustments away from beating top 10 guys. If he can square these things up over the next few weeks, he has a legitimate shot of winning a few matches at NCAAs.
Meech wrestled like Meech. What else is there to say? There aren’t many heavyweights who can rack up takedown after takedown en route to scoring 21 points. Pitt is lucky to have one who can.
Gavin’s first year: 4-11. Gavin’s second year: 13-3. Not to mention, a clamping call away from being 14-2 and winning the ACC title. That is about as impressive of a turn around that anyone could reasonably expect. Pitt will return 8/10 starters next year, with Cole Matthews in line to replace Bentley, and Luke Kemerer or Bulsak in line to replace Lee. The state of the program is strong.
Pitt heads to Blacksburg, VA on March 9th for the ACC Championships, then back home for NCAAs at PPG Paints Arena on March 21-23.
Note: As of this writing, Pitt recruit Austin Cooley is 3-0 with three pins at the National Prep Championships, and sits in the semi-finals at 195. Ryan Sullivan, Colton Camacho, and Jared McGill will wrestle at the PIAA Championships March 7-9 (assuming they qualify).