The No. 15 Panthers won four of ten matches against the third ranked Buckeyes. On paper Pitt was favored in five bouts, but Demetrius Thomas got upset by Chase Singletary in a back-and-forth heavyweight contest. In addition to being the paper favorite in half the card, 125 and 174 were unpredictable toss-ups. Ohio State won both of those, and that was the difference. The final score was 23-12. If Pitt eeks out those wins it’s 18-17 for the home team.
The better team won though; there can be no arguments from Pitt fans in that regard. However, Pitt showed high upside in multiple situations. Whether it was Cole Matthews getting the first takedown on Luke Pletcher, Louis Newell putting up 7 points on 20th ranked Malik Heinselman, or Nino Bonaccorsi getting a nice bounce back win, the team is looking tough.
“I thought we could have done more,” assessed head coach Keith Gavin. “I think they kind of imposed on us in some of those matches and we absorbed it, instead of us trying to do that to them. They wrestled with a lot more confidence than we did today and I think that’s why they won.”
“We were adamant about wrestling them. They have a very talented team.” Gavin wanted his squad to be tested early in the season and to get an idea how they stack up against the best guys in the country, literally. Ohio State has two No. 1 wrestlers in Luke Pletcher and Kollin Moore, and Sammy Sasso very well could be before too long.
As mentioned, Newell wrestled well on Friday. He has shown lightning quick speed so far this year, and as he continues to acclimate to the weight class, will only get better.
“I try to encourage [Louis] to stay the course. It’s disappointing to put the work in, manage his weight and come up short two weekends in a row. I thought he wrestled well tonight… he made one mistake where he gave up a four point takedown and that crushed him,” offered Gavin.
Newell was a four time PIAA place winner, so there’s never been any doubt on his talent. He just needs to clean a few things up.
Like Newell, Matthews, Gregg Harvey, and Meech all got the first takedown in their matches and all lost.
Regarding Meech: “That guy beat him on top. Meech is used to blowing through some people and a lot of people he wrestles can’t weather the storm, but the better guys will be able to. He needs to be more efficient with the way he attacks, ready for a re-attack, have a better whistle start on bottom.”
A week after manhandling No. 7 Jere Heino in the Campbell dual, Meech lost to No. 11 Singletary 8-3. In the beginning of the match – like Gavin mentioned – it looked like Meech was going to steamroll Singletary. But the talented sophomore kept his composure and dictated the pace for the remaining six minutes.
Cole Matthews also came out fast, taking down No. 1 Luke Pletcher (Latrobe native). But after that it was all Pletcher. He came up just one point short of teching Matthews 23-9.
“Pletcher did an awesome job. He beat him with the forward pressure and hand fighting and Cole got overwhelmed in there. That’s good for him to feel right now. We look for him to make an adjustment and learn from this.”
It’s clichéd but true; it is still very early in the season and no accurate conclusions can be truly drawn yet. However, one trend that is encouraging for Pitt fans is Jake Wentzel beating two ranked guys in a row.
After majoring Quentin Perez last week, Wentzel followed up his stellar performance with a 3-2 decision over No. 14 Ethan Smith. As the score shows, it was an extremely close match with Wentzel getting a takedown with about a minute left and holding on for the rideout.
“To most people those are upsets but to me I should be up there pretty high… I know what I’m capable of, my coaches know what I’m capable of so to us they’re not really upsets.” Wentzel exuded confidence after his tight match.
“I’ve always felt strong at this weight. This year I managed my diet a lot better so I don’t really have to cut, I have a lot of energy. I feel like I’m one of the strongest 165 pounders in the country… I’m looking for big moves and if I can’t get them I can find other ways to win.”
He joked that he picked up his crotch lift defense from his high school club coach and Pitt All American Tyler Nauman, but also that he’d rather win with his offense, not his defense.
In addition to Wentzel, Micky Phillippi, Taleb Rahmani, and Nino Bonaccorsi were victorious for the Panthers.
Micky got taken down first, but wrestled the superior match from then on. Taleb wrestled the best he has all year against a solid kid. Nino looked poised and almost majored a three-time Pennsylvania state champ.
Taking 4/10 isn’t bad, but 5-5 would have been much better. If the early season results are any indication, this team has a lot of potential. As Gavin said in his post-match interview, they’ll use this as a learning experience and get better.
The next dual won’t be much easier though as Pitt travels to instate, historical rival Lehigh on Sunday, Nov. 24.
Tom Ryan, head coach of Ohio State, confirmed on Twitter they drew the starting weight and landed on 197.
197: #1 Kollin Moore (OSU) maj dec. Kellan Stout (UP), 12-3 – Ohio State leads 4-0
285: #11 Chase Singletary (OSU) dec. #8 Demetrius Thomas (UP), 8-3 – Ohio State leads 7-0
125: #20 Malik Heinselman (OSU) dec. Louis Newell (UP), 12-7 – Ohio State leads 10-0
133: #4 Micky Phillippi (UP) dec. #14 Quinn Kinner (OSU), 4-2 – Ohio State leads 10-3
141: #1 Luke Pletcher (OSU) maj dec. #15 Cole Matthews (UP), 23-9 – Ohio State leads 14-3
149: #8 Sammy Sasso (OSU) fall Luke Kemerer (UP), 5:25 – Ohio State leads 20-3
157: #13 Taleb Rahmani (UP) dec. Elijah Cleary (OSU), 6-1 – Ohio State leads 20-6
165: #15 Jake Wentzel (UP) dec. #14 Ethan Smith (OSU), 3-2 – Ohio State leads 20-9
174: #20 Kaleb Romero (OSU) dec. Gregg Harvey (UP), 7-2 – Ohio State leads 23-9
184: #9 Nino Bonaccorsi (UP) dec. Gavin Hoffman (OSU), 10-5 – Ohio State wins 23-12