Session III started with excitement as the 125 quarterfinals provided ample entertainment for the fans. Hometown favorite Spencer Lee pinned Sean Russell, Jack Mueller and Ronnie Bresser went to the second set of tie breaker rideouts, and Sebastian Rivera held on for a tight win over freshman Vitali Arujau.
As action progressed to 133, another set of highly anticipated matchups took center stage. One of which, was Derry native Micky Phillippi (Pitt) vs Latrobe native Luke Pletcher (Ohio State).
In the umpteenth meeting of these two Westmoreland County inhabitants, Pletcher came out fast, and got the early takedown. As so often in his matches, Pletcher went full defense mode, and staved off all of Micky’s subsequent attacks.
After losing to Austin DeSanto (Iowa) Thursday night, Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) dropped to the consis and rattled off two wins to make it to the blood round. Him and Micky will battle tonight for a spot on the podium.
In the round of 24 (second round consis) Taleb Rahmani faced Ke-Shawn Hayes of Ohio State, the No. 11 seed. Taleb got in on a nice single to start, but Hayes fought out of it. The two returned to their feet with Taleb secruing a russian tie. He used this to set up another shot, and from that, hit his double arm hook turn for 2 and 2 (takedown plus nearfall). The rest of the match went all in Taleb’s favor, with the final tally 7-1.
This win put Taleb in the round of 16 – which equals his best career finish from two years ago – to face Griffin Parriott of Purdue.
Pitt’s second quarterfinalist, Nino Bonaccorsi, squared off vs Max Dean, a returning All American from Cornell.
A late first period takedown and entire second period rideout cemented the 6-0 shutout victory for Dean. Like Micky, Nino drops to the blood round, and will have to win tonight to be an All American. He is slated to face Dakota Geer of Oklahoma State, whom he beat several times last year. If Nino sticks to his game plan he should win.
Demetrius Thomas concluded the second round wrestle-backs for Pitt with a 15-7 loss to Ian Butterbrodt of Brown.
He hit his characteristic blast double to go up 2-0. But after that it was pretty much all Butterbrodt. Meech got caught in two cheap tilts, and wasn’t able to overcome the large deficit. The final score was 15-7. Meech finishes the tournament 1-2 and tied for 24th.
Taleb was Pitt’s only representative in the round of 16, and it was a rematch from earlier this year (Parriott won 5-3).
Refusing to let that result repeat itself, Taleb stayed on his offense the entire 7 minutes, but Parriott’s defense proved impregnable. The match went to overtime 1-1.
The bout took place on mat 7, right in front of Pittsburgh Sport Now’s spot on press row. I have no idea what he did, but he pinned him, and secured his best career placement in the process. Taleb, a 3x qualifier, is guaranteed 12th, and still has a possibility to get third. He will face Christian Pagdilao of Arizona State in the blood round.
Taleb said he’s never seen Pagdilao wrestle, which he believes works to his advantage. Listen to the man himself:
After Session III Pitt has three wrestlers alive with a chance to earn All American honors tonight. The Panthers are in 26th place, and it is the first time since 2014 they have at least three guys finish top 12.