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Pitt Finishes 2nd with 3 Champions, 7 NCAA Qualifiers at ACC Championship



PITTSBURGH — Three Pitt wrestlers are ACC champions and the Panthers finished in second place in the 2020 ACC Wrestling Championship.

Pitt finished 2nd place as a team behind NC State 81-77. UNC placed third with 67.5, UVA fourth with 60.5, Virginia Tech fifth with 52, and Duke sixth with two.

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Pitt went 3-1 with four wrestlers in the finals, with Micky Phillippi and Demetrius Thomas earning their second straight titles, Jake Wentzel claiming his first, and Taleb Rahmani notching his second consecutive runner-up finish.

Those four wrestlers have also qualified for the NCAA Tournament, in addition to Cole Matthews, Gregg Harvey, and Nino Bonaccorsi. Pitt qualified five in 2019.

Phillippi won 8-5 over Jaime Hernandez of UNC. He gave up a takedown, but was in complete control of the entire match.

Pitt’s Micky Phillippi Wins Second Straight ACC Title

Rahmani fell to Hayden Hidlay of NC State for the seventh time in his career, this time to the tune of a 13-4 major decision.

Wentzel had already avenged one regular season loss on Sunday after defeating Kennedy Monday in the semifinals, and he earned the marquee win of his career Sunday night by taking out three-time All-American David McFadden of Virginia Tech with a third period ride out.

Pitt’s Jake Wentzel Beats Three-Time All American David McFadden to Win ACC Title

Thomas capped off the night with his second ACC title in as many seasons with a 5-4 decision over Deonte Wilson of NC State.

Pitt’s Demetrius Thomas Defends ACC Heavyweight Championship


Pitt went 4-1 in the third place matches.

Louis Newell dropped his third match this season to Joey Prata of Virginia Tech, 5-2. He will not get an at-large bid, and his freshman season is over.

Qualifying for his first NCAA Championships, Cole Matthews beat Brian Courtney 3-1 in overtime. That was Cole’s third victory this year over the former Pennsylvania high school state champ.

Gregg Harvey got back to form with a 7-4 decision over Cody Hughes of Va Tech. Harvey also punched his first ticket to NCAAs.

At 184 pounds, Nino Bonaccorsi dominated his match, 14-4 over Michael Battista of UVA. He qualified for NCAAs for the second straight year.

Lastly, Kellan Stout likely ended his season on a high note in a back-and-forth match with Tyrie Houghton of NC State. Stout won 10-8 in overtime and will need to rely on an at-large bid to get to Minneapolis.


Head coach Keith Gavin on his team’s performance midway through the tournament:

“Up and down as far as results. We were counting on some of those ones that we lost, but they’re wrestling well. Everyone is giving a full effort and the attitude is good. We got some that maybe, we were not supposed to get,” clearly referring to Taleb’s and Jake’s upsets in the semis.

One of the stories so far is the sub-par officiating. Cole Matthews’ semifinals with No. 1 seed Tariq Wilson of NC State was Exhibit A. “That was pretty tight; it looked like a pin. … There were 19 points in that match and four stall calls. It’s very hard to score 19 points and have that many stalls. It’s a little bit to do with – or maybe a lot to do with – our rules being messed up. That out-of-bounds stuff is getting out of hand. When there’re good guys like that you gotta let them wrestle. They’re good enough to figure it out.”

Pitt had six wrestlers compete in the consolation semifinals, going 5-1.

Louis Newell avenged a regular season loss by beating Joey Melendez of UNC after locking a 6 point near cradle early in the first. He will wrestle for third, and the last automatic spot at 125.

Cole Matthews received a forfeit.

Dallas Bulsak ended his tournament, going 0-2 after losing to AJ Leitten of NC State, 5-2.

After a disappointing first round loss, Gregg Harvey, the No. 1 seed, punched his first ticket to NCAAs with a 8-3 decision over Vic Marcelli of UVA.

Nino Bonaccorsi dominated his consolation semifinal opponent, as expected. He beat Joseph Mazzara (UNC) 10-4.

At 197, Kellan Stout got back in the win column with a major decision over Stanley Smeltzer of Virginia Tech.

All four of the victors wrestle for third at 5 p.m.


Bonaccorsi’s semifinal with Trent Hidlay also featured some egregious out-of-bounds stalling calls as well. But Gavin doesn’t necessarily blames the refs. “They have it tough. These rules are ridiculous.”

At 133 pounds, Phillippi defeated Louie Hayes of Virginia 1-0 to advance to the championship round and qualify for the NCAA Tournament. It will be No 1. vs. No. 2 in the final, as Phillippi will wrestle second-seeded Jamie Hernandez of North Carolina in the final.

Rahmani punched his ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in his Pitt career with a win over North Carolina’s Austin Headlee at 157 pounds. After his 6-4 decision, Rahmani will face NC State’s Hayden Hidlay in the final.

Wentzel earned a 3-2 decision over North Carolina’s Kennedy Monday, the No. 1 seed at 165 pounds, to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and advance to the finals, where he’ll face No. 3 seed, Virginia Tech’s David McFadden.

At heavyweight, Thomas advanced to the final in dominant fashion, earning a major decision over Virginia Tech’s John Borst in the semifinals, 10-1. In the process, Thomas became the fourth Pitt wrestler to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. He’ll wrestle No. 2 seed Deonte Wilson of NC State in the final.

Cole Matthews lost, 10-9 to Tariq Wilson at 141 pounds despite a furious third-period effort that saw Wilson on his back, but Matthews could not capitalize for the pin. He’ll advance directly to the consolation final, where a win will secure him an NCAA berth.

No. 1 seed Gregg Harvey was upset by Clay Lautt of North Carolina at 174 pounds, losing 5-4 in double overtime. Harvey will need a win in the consolation semifinals against Vic Marcelli of Virginia to automatically qualify for NCAAs.

Overtime did not go Pitt’s way at 184 pounds, either where Nino Bonaccorsi was defeated by NC State’s Trent Hindlay, 3-2 in the tiebreaker.

Pitt’s Kellan Stout was upset by Brandon Whitman of North Carolina at 197 pounds in a 4-0 decision. With just one NCAA qualifier in the weight class, Stout, one of Pitt’s three seniors, will be forced to hope for an at-large tournament bid.


Pitt is in second place after the first round of the 2020 ACC wrestling championships.

The Panthers trail Virginia by one point, nine to eight. Virginia Tech has six, North Carolina five, NC State 3.5 and Duke two.

For Pitt, No. 5 125-pounder Louis Newell lost to No. 4 Joey Prata of Virginia Tech in a 6-4 decision.

No. 4 Cole Matthews defeated Virginia’s Brian Courtney at 141 pounds in a 7-6 decision.

No. 5 Dallas Bulsak was pinned by No. 5 Denton Spencer of Virginia at 149 pounds.

Third-ranked 157-pounder Taleb Rahmani pinned Duke’s Eric Carter at 3:23 to advance to the semifinals.

Jake Wentzel, ranked No. 4 at 165 pounds, defeated Duke’s Ben Anderson 8-1.

At 184 pounds, Nino Bonaccorsi pinned Duke’s Kai Blake in 1:30 as the No. 3 seed advanced to the semis.

Pitt wrestlers Micky Phillippi (133 pounds), Gregg Harvey (174 pounds), Kellan Stout (197 pounds) and Demetrius Thomas (285 pounds) all received byes.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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