The Panthers fell to 1-1 in the ACC after losing 21-12 to fourth ranked North Carolina State at home on Saturday.
Pitt won the toss and elected to start the dual at 197, figuring they could generate momentum with Kellan Stout and Demetrius Thomas leading off with wins. Head coach Keith Gavin’s intuition was right, and that’s exactly what happened.
“We picked 197 because we were confident in that match. Kellan wins, Meech wins, now we have something going. And they did. And 125 was looking good until the end.”
With Micky Phillippi eventually winning at 133, it looked possible that Pitt could start off with four consecutive wins. However, Louis Newell made a costly mistake in the third period, turning into Jakob Camacho from the bottom, and getting caught on his back. Those four nearfall points made it a major decision and squashed Pitt’s momentum.
“We wrestled better than the last time we wrestled a top team (Oklahoma State). We got after them a little more… we got out to a good start, we had some momentum going, but there were a couple close ones we needed to go in our favor and they didn’t.”
After Newell fell 11-3, Micky got Pitt back on track with a shutout win over 26th ranked Jarrett Trombley 4-0. With Pitt leading 9-4, a big rematch from the Southern Scuffle took center mat with huge implications.
Cole Matthews lost to Tariq Wilson at the Scuffle 2-1 in the second tie-breakers. Obviously an evenly matched pair, this was a tossup Pitt needed to win.
Cole got the Field House crowd rocking with a first period takedown and rideout. A Wilson escape in the second made it 2-1, but he returned the favor and took Cole down with a big double leg, followed by a tough ride out. With about 40 seconds of riding time in his favor, Cole chose down in the third, needing to escape in less than 1:40. Unfortunately he didn’t as Wilson’s tight waist was too strong, and a two-point tilt all but sealed the deal. Tack on the riding time point after a full two minutes in the third period, and Wilson won 5-2.
Gavin on the decision to put Cole down in the third:
“They wrestled in the Scuffle and he got out. It was off the takedown that he got ridden in the second so I was thinking, with a fresh start, and he had almost 40 seconds of riding time. He’s going to have to get out. The takedown game was 1-1 so it’s not like he was dominating on his feet. If he was, then it’s a different decision. He’s also young, so that’s a growth moment.”
A few years ago, Taleb Rahmani and Hayden Hidlay went to overtime. Not this time. Hidlay completely overpowered Taleb to the tune of a 17-1 technical fall. The older, but smaller Hidlay was simply on another level.
With the team score now 15-9 in favor of the Wolfpack, Pitt essentially needed to win the last three to win the dual.
That hope died in a weirdly officiated 165 pound bout between No. 10 Jake Wentzel and No. 12 Thomas Bullard.
The entire night both coaching staffs and the crowd were giving the refs an earful, and for good reason. The stalling calls were wildly inconsistent, the ref overturned two takedowns and a penalty point he originally called, and there was simply no rhyme or reason to his officiating. Like Gavin said, “you can’t really harp on it,” and it didn’t change the final outcome, but it was disappointing to see in a top 10 showdown, with ACC title implications.
Wentzel lost 3-1 in a hard fought match, which meant Pitt would have to get nine team points in the final two bouts, a highly unlikely occurrence.
Not to be discouraged, Gregg Harvey repeated his result from last year’s dual with a win over the higher ranked Daniel Bullard. In this year’s edition, No. 24 Harvey beat No. 14 Bullard 10-8 in a thriller that brought the crowd to its feet. Losing 8-7, Harvey got a last second takedown after a relentless effort, and the few second rideout to end the match just barely clicked him over a minute of riding time.
Here’s a scoring recap:
|Harvey riding time||10-8|
A clash of indivually ranked top 10 wrestlers closed out the dual as No. 3 Trent Hidlay took out No. 9 Nino Bonaccorsi 6-3. Hidlay used two identical takedowns to score his offensive points, but Nino was able to shut him down later in the match, perhaps giving him insight for their next meeting.
One note Pitt fans should be pleased with: after sitting out the Southern Scuffle to recover from some minor injuries, Kellan Stout has won three in a row.
“Kellan’s a good wrestler. You get him in the right mind frame and he can do those things.”
Kellan is an x-factor heading into the final stretch; his performance could propel Pitt to a higher finish at the ACC tournament.