Rahmani, Thomas Power Pitt to Win Over In-State Rival Mountain Hawks.
One week removed from beating No. 4 Oklahoma State, Lehigh dropped two duals this weekend to No. 13 Princeton and the 18th ranked Panthers. That’s been the theme so far this college wrestling season. Rider took out Minnesota, Virginia Tech beat Ohio State, Arizona State handed Penn State their first loss in 60 matches, and Lehigh shocked the Cowboys.
Not to be outdone, Pitt found a way to win despite going down 6-0 after the first bout, and dropping a decision at 141 after a big lead. It’s the first time Pitt has beat Lehigh since 2013.
The final dual score was 18-18. Each time had one six-point win and five total wins. The third criteria is total match points in non-six point victories. Pitt had the edge 39-34, which made the final team score 19-18 in the visitor’s favor.
“It was a hard fought win today,” said head coach Keith Gavin. “It wasn’t perfect and definitely didn’t go the way we thought it would, but we just kept wrestling and found a way to win against a tough team. Taleb [Rahmani] and Meech [Thomas] stepped up big for us today.” This was the second win over a top-10 opponent in the Gavin era, with the first being Pitt’s 18-16 win over No. 8 North Carolina State last season.
In addition to the team victory, there were a few important individual results as well. Micky Phillippi notched his third straight win over a ranked opponent, cementing himself in the upper tier at 133. This time he beat No. 19 Nick Farro with a shutout performance.
Taleb Rahmani pinned No. 10 Josh Humphreys, but perhaps even more importantly, was winning at the time of the fall late in the third period.
And of course – as has become a staple in exciting Pitt dual victories – the heavyweight got the clutch win.
In this edition of Pitt big men getting the job done, Demetrius Thomas put a beating on No. 6 Jordan Wood. Meech used a variety of takedowns including his patented blast double, and except for giving up one, was in complete control for seven minutes. Wood is the highest ranked wrestler Meech has beaten in his D1 career, and this win bodes well for the post-season.
This phenomenon of Pitt winning duals on an unexpected, or at least unpredictable heavyweight win, is approaching an unparalleled, almost implausible quantity. From Ryan Tomei, Zac Thomusseit, Matt Wilps, PJ Tasser, Ryan Solomon, and now Meech, there’s just something special about closing out a dual in the Blue and Gold singlet.
Pitt dropped 3 of 4 to lead-off, including suffering a pin at 125, and an upset at 141 with No. 15 Cole Matthews losing to unranked Ryan Pomrinca. Matthews was winning 4-1 after two takedowns in the first, but Pomrinca worked his way back to force overtime, eventually winning 10-8.
Louis Newell got pinned by No. 12 Brandon Paetzell to start things off. This put Pitt in what looked like a deep hole, but as we would find out, Taleb’s pin would counter-balance Paetzell’s, crucial for Pitt in both the total score and criteria.
Luke Kemerer dropped his bout at 149 to Jimmy Hoffman 6-1.
It’s a Team Effort
As Pitt alumnus Alex Murray pointed out, the rest of the team had Cole’s back. Taleb’s pin, Jake Wentzel’s dominating win, Gregg Harvey keeping it close to No. 2 Jordan Kutler, and Nino Bonaccorsi beating a very solid Chris Weiler put Pitt back in a position to win.
After Kellan Stout dropped a close decision in a rematch from the 2015 PIAA AAA State Finals to Jake Jakobsen (which Kellan won 1-0), the team score was 18-15. At that point Pitt was winning 29-28 in match points, so any win by Meech would seal the deal.
He left no doubt.
Pitt and Lehigh are locked in a never ending battle to recruit Pennsylvania. Obviously one match doesn’t change much, but it’s better to win than lose. You never know who’s on the fence, and a little recency bias working in your favor can’t be a bad thing.
Speaking of historic rivalries, Pitt’s next competition is December 5th against the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Coliseum.