Pitt wrestling has a hard-nosed and talented class of incoming freshman on their way to campus in a few months. It includes Ryan Sullivan (Shaler), Colton Camacho (Franklin Regional), Jared McGill (Chestnut Ridge), and Austin Cooley (Wyoming Seminary). Contributing to the value of this class, in addition to their accolades, is that these individuals will fill specific needs for the roster moving forward.
Brendon Fenton was 7-12 this past regular season at 125, a weight class Pitt needs more production from. Whether that is with Fenton developing over the off-season and returning as the starter, or being supplanted by a freshman is irrelevant, that record needs to improve. Sullivan could slot in perfectly considering he wrestled 120 as a senior, although he will likely redshirt.
Colton Camacho is an interesting factor to consider in this discussion. He wrestled 126 for the post-season this March, but that is with the two pound allowance, so really 128. It remains to be seen if he can cut to 125 scratch and wrestle effectively one hour later.
He believes he can, so if the plan is to redshirt Sullivan to let him put on muscle, Camacho is the likely starter (Louis Newell wrestled this whole season at 133).
Two other lineup holes next year are 141 and 149, with the Panthers’ only seniors, LJ Bentley and Robert Lee graduating. Luckily, the coaching staff addressed this with the 2018 recruiting class. Cole Matthews and Luke Kemerer will be coming off redshirt next year, and are well positioned to fill those slots. Dallas Bulsak is a legitimate option at 149 as well.
The class of 2019 will seek to imitate its predecessor. As mentioned with the gentlemen at 125, Jared McGill and Austin Cooley have the potential of perfectly sliding into starting positions as well. Gregg Harvey is good at 174, and I’ve always been bullish on him. He has two more years left, and I think he has a real shot at being least a top 12 guy. But, based on prior accomplishments, McGill has the higher ceiling. If Pitt wants to win ACCs and fight for a team trophy at Nationals (top 4), they need All Americans. This is one potential Blue-Gold match I am looking forward to.
Kellan Stout will be a senior next year. Cooley will be a true freshman and will surely redshirt. That means in the 2021 season, Cooley and Cole Nye will battle it out for 197. Cooley was absolutely dominant at Prep Nationals this year, but Nye is a two time PIAA state champ. Having depth is a necessary asset for success in D1 wrestling. Look at Missouri for example. Returning All American Grant Leeth got hurt. His “backup” Brock Mauller placed 6th. Chandler Rogers got knocked out of the starting lineup for Oklahoma State. The best programs have it. Pitt will too.
Austin Cooley was the first of the four to wrap up his last high school season. And as mentioned, he did it by annihilating the competition at Prep Nationals. He won his first three bouts by pin, then by major decision in the semis, and a 3-0 shutout in the finals. He looked like a man among boys.
Ryan Sullivan finished up next, albeit not by choice. The returning state champ was the favorite to win again, but unfortunately broke his hand in the section finals. He was able to finish and win despite the injury, but that would be his last high school match. Here are his career post-season finishes:
Colton Camacho lost to Darren Miller of Kiski in the section finals. Then he beat him in the WPIAL finals. They faced each other again, but unfortunately Colt was not able to win the big match, and fell to Miller 6-5 in the state finals. Both gentlemen were seniors and looking for their first titles, so they left it all on the mat.
Camacho also had the opportunity to get a head start on his Fitzgerald Fieldhouse career by competing in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic for Team WPIAL vs New York, and won 8-6 over Alex Sampson. He comes to Pitt with an impressive resumé:
Jared McGill arguably has the highest upside of the class. He beat the snot out of everyone in his state bracket, winning 16-0, 18-3, 17-2, and 8-2 over Christian Clutter (McGuffey) in the finals. He placed at states all four seasons, and also won Powerade this year. Along with Cooley, he’ll have three years to train with Nino Bonaccorsi. They could be a formidable trio of upper-weights.
For the record, last year I was perfect. I believe Sullivan will redshirt, which leaves Camacho as the front runner. I also believe, regardless of the results of wrestle-offs at 174 and 197, Harvey and Stout will return as starters. Jake Wentzel will be back from injury. Here we go:
125: Colton Camacho
133: Micky Phillippi
141: Cole Matthews
149: Luke Kemerer
157: Taleb Rahmani
165: Jake Wentzel
174: Gregg Harvey
184: Nino Bonaccorsi
197: Kellan Stout
285: Demetrius Thomas
Rahmani and Thomas are going in to their senior years with no heir apparent. That will need addressed in the following recruiting class, or via transfer.