The 2019-2020 NCAA wrestling season is officially underway. As programs across the country are having their inter-squad matches, the D1 starting lineups are starting to take form. Pitt had its Blue-Gold match on Friday, with Gold winning 22-19.
“We have a tough schedule this year. Every dual meet is going to be a grind. We made it that way, especially in November. We’re trying to get these guys ready for March. We have a number of guys that can do really well at the National Tournament so that’s what we’re looking forward to. We expect to put some guys on the podium.”
These are Head coach Keith Gavin’s thoughts and expectations entering the season. An interesting aspect of this particular season is how many top guys are taking Olympic redshirts (see below). For instance at 133, the top three finishers from last year – Nick Suriano, Daton Fix, and Stevan Micic – are all sitting out with their eyes on Tokyo.
Despite what may look like an easier path to earning All American status, Gavin is keeping things in perspective. “It certainly does [open up the field]. But there are still a lot of tough guys, and there are always good young guys. In collegiate wrestling you can’t look past anybody anymore.”
Micky Phillippi, the winner at 133 by tech fall over freshman Ryan Sullivan is also not underestimating the competition. “Confidence wise I think I can beat anyone. I came into this season wanting to win a National title, I still want to win a National title. I want to wrestle them; I’m not afraid of competition. But it makes it more interesting.”
As Gavin noted with Micky in particular, there are always good freshman; Micky lost to one in the Blood Round last year. A current example is Jordan Decatur from Ohio State. He is currently not ranked at 133, but he was a Cadet World Team member, three time Fargo freestyle champ, and twice the winner of FloWrestling’s ‘Who’s No. 1’ event.
Not to mention, Seth Gross is back at 133. So yes, the field is slightly less top heavy than before, but there will be nothing easy about placing.
In terms of Gavin’s overall thoughts on the night, he liked what he saw at 197 from both athletes, mentioned needing a little more from 149, and was pleased with how the returning starters looked.
“Cooley was good. 197 was a good match for both of them. I think Cooley’s going to be really good. He’s in a good situation training with Kellan and Nino every day. Kellan looked good too. He got after it trying to get that takedown in the first period, which is what we’ve been telling him.”
Nino Bonaccorsi also won his match by tech fall. He took out David Crawford 18-3 using an assortment of takedowns and turns.
Nino is ranked No. 4 to start the year by Flo. He doesn’t pay much attention it to though. “I know they’re out there but at this stage of the game they don’t mean anything… it’s cliché but the only rankings that matter are the ones in March. That’s what I’m striving for. I could be unranked and it wouldn’t change my attitude toward anything.”
In addition to having high expectations for himself, Nino is bullish on the team as well. “I’m excited for our team. We have pretty much the same team as last year. I thought we looked really good; we’ve been working hard.”
A box score can be found here.
Besides Micky and Nino, the other winners included Brendon Fenton, Cole Matthews, Luke Kemerer, Taleb Rahmani, Jake Wentzel, Gregg Harvey, Kellan Stout, and Demetrius Thomas.
There were no surprise results, but as mentioned, true freshman Austin Cooley looked very impressive wrestling the 5th year senior Stout.
Cole Rickert gave Meech a close match as well, taking him down multiple times.
Jake Wentzel came out like a bull in a china shop and looked aggressive in his post-injury return.
Matthews, Rahmani, and Harvey wrestled solid matches.
It’s tough to draw too many conclusions from an inter-squad match, but the team wrestled well. They will have a true test next Saturday at the Michigan State Open where Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, MSU, Ohio State, and Oklahoma are also participating.
The fans did not get a chance to see true freshman Colt Camacho or Jared McGill. Camacho lost 7-6 to Louis Newell in the preliminary match at 125, and McGill just started wrestling live after a football injury sustained over the summer.
Dane Csencsits Commits
I am extremely proud and excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and athletic career at the University of Pittsburgh! I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity. I want to thank my family and friends for getting me to where I am today! #H2P @Pitt_WRES pic.twitter.com/FmJmzQSJbK
— Dane Csencsits (@daneCsencsits_2) October 24, 2019
Csencsits is a three time state qualifier from Saucon Valley. His cumulative record is 96-41 with 49 pins. He recently wrestled at Super 32 at 170 where he went 2-2. He projects as a 174-184 pounder.
Notable Olympic Redshirts
As mentioned, some big time guys are redshirting this year. Here is a list of the most prominent.
125: Vitali Arujau
133: Nick Suriano, Daton Fix, Stevan Micic, Taylor LaMont
141: Yianni Diakomihalis, Jaydin Eierman, Josh Finesilver*
149: Matt Kolodzik, Kanen Storr
165: Mekhi Lewis, Logan Massa, Mason Manville
174: Myles Amine, Matt Finesilver
184: Max Dean