Goes 4-0 vs ranked opponents
The No. 14 Panthers took eight of ten matches vs the Camels in the opening dual of the 2019-2020 season. In what was expected to be a close affair, Pitt blew Campbell away and was tangibly close to shutting them out.
“I thought we wrestled really well,” said head coach Keith Gavin. “I think we got pushed in some of those matches because they have a good team, they had six national qualifiers on the team. Our guys were pushed and they responded really well for the most part and we really dominated that dual.”
Louis Newell, who has emerged as the starter at 125, fought out of a near cradle after being on his back for at least a minute. He then chose down to start the third and hit a lightning fast switch, only to find himself with a near cradle locked up and just millimeters from pinning Korbin Meink. But, Meink returned the favor and avoided being pinned.
“I thought Louis wrestled well,” Keith Gavin assessed. It was the redshirt freshman’s debut in the starting lineup and aside from a few mistakes he looked good.
Also making their debuts were Cole Matthews at 141 and Luke Kemerer at 149, who both won in convincing fashion.
Matthews’ pin of No. 13 Josh Heil was the pinnacle of the dual. Just 1:28 into the first Matthews locked up a near cradle of his own and stuck him.
— Pitt Wrestling (@Pitt_WRES) November 9, 2019
“Feels good. I expected him to dive under like that because coach Conor [Youtsey] let me know that’s what he did in his other matches… so I just dropped to my knees and cradled him. It was fun.”
Cole was excited, but checked after his big performance. It was apparent he expected to win.
“Cole Matthews has that killer instinct to go get that… That’s what makes him special; he’s a great competitor,” added Gavin.
Kemerer shut out his opponent Zach Barnes 4-0. Luke totally controlled the match, and that win, which appeared to be a tossup on paper, really swung the momentum in Pitt’s favor, and the dual was never close after that.
In addition to Matthews, Micky Phillippi, Jake Wentzel, and Demetrius Thomas all beat ranked opponents. Like Matthews, Wentzel and Thomas beat guys that were ahead of them in convincing fashion.
Gavin praised his 165 pounder: “It’s been a while since he’s wrestled someone that can push him like that – obviously in practice but practice is different than being out here. He got pushed; that guy put a good ride on him in the second period and Jake got tough in the third and got the last takedown to major him.” Wentzel forfeited out of the Michigan State Open last week after starting 3-0, but appeared to be in perfect health on Saturday. A safe bet would be the training staff pre-planned to pull him after three matches regardless of how he was feeling.
Jake Wentzel is one of the pivotal guys in the lineup Pitt needs to do well for a chance to win ACCs. Beating the No. 15 guy in the country 9-1 certainly inspires some confidence.
Speaking of destroying highly ranked guys, Meech Thomas took down No. 7 Jere Heino 10-3 in a no doubt manhandling. Heino wrestled at the World Championships for Finland last year and is a big, strong heavyweight. That was a statement match for Meech, and he made it loud and clear.
“Meech is a beast,” Gavin asserted. “That guy’s pretty good and Meech just out-muscled him.”
Micky gave up the first takedown to No. 12 Noah Gonser, but quickly recovered and controlled the rest of the match. Micky is now 5-0, and four of those wins have come over NCAA qualifier quality wrestlers at 133, which is again looking to be one of the deepest weight classes.
At 157, Taleb Rahmani wrestled Campbell’s backup Matt Dallara and took care of business. Gregg Harvey suffered an injury early in the first period, and from the stands it looked like a trap stinger. He gave up three straight points after this, but after recovering came back to win 9-4 and looked good doing it. Kellan Stout used a takedown, escape, and rideout to win 4-0 over Austin McNeill.
The only other loss for the Panthers was Nino Bonaccorsi getting upset. He was up 7-1 and looking to pin Andrew Morgan before getting reversed and rolled to his back for a six point sequence. It was 8-8 late in the third but Nino gave up a takedown. He was absolutely dominating but got caught. For someone as good as Nino an early season slip up will have no significant consequences. Gavin agreed, “That one stings. He was in complete control of that match, tried to pin the guy and got rolled through. He’ll bounce back.”
The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes come to the Fieldhouse for a Friday afternoon match at 3pm. The odd time (to say the least) is due in part to Ohio State’s schedule and the Pitt Basketball game that evening. “They’re obviously very good. It’s a great opportunity for some of our guys.”
Half a day of PTO anyone?