Pitt will likely have several fresh faces in its lineup this year. With Micky Phillippi locked in at 133, it remains to be seen what will happen at 125. Brendon Fenton is the returning starter and seems to be the favorite to keep the spot. True freshman Ryan Sullivan will likely redshirt after ending his senior season with a broken wrist. His fellow classmate Colton Camacho may also redshirt and/or may not be able to cut to 125.
Sophomore Louis Newell is also a part of this discussion, but he wrestled most of last year at 133, and weight may be an issue for him too. If one of those three can supplant Fenton, Pitt will have its third leadoff man in as many years.
With LJ Bentley and Rob Lee graduating, 141 and 149 are open for the taking. Cole Matthews is extremely likely to start at 141. He was Pitt’s most heralded recruit in Keith Gavin’s first class. Matthews wrestled for Reynolds and racked up an incredible 100 career pins in high school. He was a two-time PIAA State Champion.
149 is more up for debate. Lee was the starter last season but suffered an injury just before the ACC tournament. Dallas Bulsak (South Park) stepped up in his place. He will be challenged by another member of Gavin’s first class, Hempfield native Luke Kemerer.
Luke was a solid high school wrestler, but never won a state title. He beat Rob Lee in the Blue-Gold match last year which makes him the front runner to take this spot. He, along with Matthews, comes into this season as a redshirt freshman.
In terms of incoming true freshman, please see my article on the Class of 2019 recruiting update.
That’s about it in terms of new guys entering the lineup. 157-285 figures to be the same unless something drastic happens at Blue-Gold or someone suffers an untimely injury. Technically, Tommy O’Brien was the ACC rep at 165 last year but only after Jake Wentzel tore his ACL ending his season. Otherwise, Taleb Rahmani, Gregg Harvey, Nino Bonaccorsi, Kellan Stout, and Demetrius Thomas all figure to be the Panther’s starters.
The next preview will look at the five returning NCAA qualifiers (Phillippi, Rahmani, Bonaccorsi, Stout, and Thomas) and what they have to do to place this year.
Super 32 Update
Pitt recruit Mick Burnett (Elyria, OH) wrestled in the prestigious tournament this weekend. Brock McMillen (Glendale, PA) was registered to compete but did not for an unknown reason.
Burnett won five consecutive matches to start his tournament: 17-2, 8-3, 18-1, 6-2, 7-1. He fell in the semi-finals 3-2 to the No. 2 seed Lachlan McNeil from Wyoming Seminary, PA, the eventual champion. Burnett seemed likely to clash with Virginia Tech recruit and WPIAL wrestler Sam Hillegas in the consis, but Hillegas lost the round before. Burnett lost again in the consi-semis, but finished his with a win in the 5th place match 4-0.