Pitt capitalized on two programs’ downfall on Wednesday. First, after Cary Kolat announced he was leaving Campbell for Navy, WPIAL native and PIAA runner-up Ryan Michaels decided to reopen his recruitment. A few weeks later, the Elizabeth Forward senior settled on Pitt, and is sure to add some toughness to their lightweight depth.
Next, a shock wave that sent the wrestling community reeling, Old Dominion cancelling their program, just paid off in a big way for the Panthers. As discussed in PSN’s live chat, Pitt had a huge hole at 157 moving forward with the departure of Taleb Rahmani. That hole just got filled, as former ODU commit Tyler Badgett of Rancho Bernardo, California announced he will be attending Pitt.
I am excited to announce that I will be continuing my athletic and academic career at The University of Pittsburgh. Thank you for everyone supporting me throughout these crazy times. #H2P #pinzburgh @Pitt_WRES pic.twitter.com/zFgXOKpx8y
— Tyler Badgett (@TylerBadgett3) April 16, 2020
He will be one of very few Pitt wrestlers to come from the west coast in program history. Former SID Chris Byland pointed out a few including Josh Birt from Spokane, WA. Pitt’s current roster features 20 athletes from PA, and one each from MA, OH, NY, and NJ. There are obvious, well documented reasons to recruit heavily from PA, but diversifying your field certainly can’t hurt.
Badgett wrestled 152 his senior season and is ranked No. 8 in the country by FloWrestling. He is a two-time state runner-up, an impressive feat as California only has one division. He posted solid results at Fargo and Super 32 as well. He could conceivably be Pitt’s starting 157 pounder next year.
Michaels is another lightweight. He competed at 120 pounds in his 2020 senior campaign. As a third place finisher as a junior, Michaels looked to end his career as a state champ, but came up just short with a 7-4 loss to Sheldon Seymour in the finals.
“I chose Pitt because of the coaches. They have been able to turn the program around. They were all great wrestlers and I think I can win a national championship there.”
Michaels will likely be a 125 in college, and depending on how things shake out, would have the potential to start, perhaps after a redshirt.
Although Pitt does have impressive depth already at this end of the lineup, depending on weight class shifting and possible transfers, a spot could open for Michaels. Next year looks to be Colton Camacho or Louis Newell at 125 and Micky Phillippi at 133. Bryce Brennan will be an incoming freshman with Gary Steen and Brock McMillen the year behind. There are a lot of moving parts, and nothing is certain – well, except that Pitt has a lot of options at the lightweights.