There were no NCAA Championships this year, in case you needed a painful reminder. The athletes, parents, coaches, fans, and media were robbed of a chance to watch the best collegiate wrestlers on the biggest stage. Historical records will forever be tainted with 330 athletes missing a chance to claim All American status, and a few in particular losing an opportunity for all-time greatness. Recognizing this travesty – the depth of which will not be fully realized for years to come – the National Wrestling Coaches Association announced 1st, 2nd, and Honorable Mention All Americans for this season, in an attempt to acknowledge the athletes’ accomplishments throughout the year, and at least somewhat ease the sting of college wrestling’s pinnacle event being cancelled.
Based on seeds at the forgone Championships, thus also including regular season results, the naming of All Americans was straight forward: the top 8 seeds garnered 1st Team selection, 9-12 2nd Team, and 13-16 3rd Team.
Micky Phillippi and Demetrius were Pitt’s 1st Team honorees, with Jake Wentzel and Nino Bonaccorsi earning 2nd Team recognition.
Micky entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed at 133 with a 25-1 record and an ACC title. Similarly Meech also won the ACC crown this year, and was the No. 7 seed at heavyweight with a 21-3 mark.
Jake Wentzel made considerable noise at ACCs, knocking off both Kennedy Monday and David McFadden to win his first individual conference title. He was the No. 11 seed at 165 with an 18-7 record. Nino placed 3rd at ACCs in a very tough bracket, and was slated to enter NCAAs with 23 wins to just five losses as the No. 10 seed at 184.
Mike Moyer, the Executive Director of the NWCA offered his appreciation of the wrestlers:
“During difficult times there are always people who rise to the occasion and I’m proud of the action that the NWCA Division I Leadership Group took in providing direction for honoring the 2020 Division I All-American team. It’s important that these athletes’ efforts and successes during the season are recognized. Congratulations to each of this year’s honorees and National Qualifiers.”
Pitt Wrestlers Rack Up Rewards
In addition to their All American honors, Micky and Jake were also named to the All ACC Wrestling Academic Team for the second time in their careers.
From Pitt Athletics:
Phillippi is a Rhetoric and Communication major with a 3.30 cumulative GPA and received a 3.58 GPA for the fall 2019 semester. In addition to the All-ACC Academic Team, Phillippi has also been named to the ACC Honor Roll twice in his career… Wentzel is an Accounting major with a 3.54 cumulative GPA and received a 3.38 GPA for the fall 2019 semester. Wentzel has been named to the ACC Honor Roll three times in his career and was named to the All-ACC Academic team in 2018.
Minimum academic requirements for selection to the All-ACC Academic Team are a 3.0 grade point average for the previous semester and a 3.0 cumulative average during one’s academic career. Athletic achievements during the most recent season are also considered in selecting the All-ACC Academic Team. Five All-ACC Academic Team members – Hidlay, North Carolina’s Clay Lautt, Pitt’s Phillippi and Wentzel, and Virginia’s Jay Aiello – are conference champions in their respective weight classes.
ACC Wrestling Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Hayden Hidlay, NC State
2019-20 All-ACC Academic Wrestling Team
- Ben Anderson, Duke, R-So.; Psychology
- Vincent Baker, Duke, Fr.; Undeclared
- Mason Eaglin, Duke, R-Fr..; English
- Jonah Niesnbaum, Duke, Fr.; Undeclared
- Clay Lautt, North Carolina, R-So.; Economics & Environmental Studies
- Joseph Melendez, North Carolina, R-Fr.; Business Administration
- Daniel Bullard, NC State, R-Jr.; Business Administration
- Hayden Hidlay, NC State, R-Jr.; Business Administration
- Trent Hidlay, NC State, R-Fr.; Business Administration
- Tryie Houghton, NC State, So.; Mechanical Engineering
- A.J. Leitten, NC State, R-So.; Sport Management
- Jarrett Trombley, NC State; R-Fr.; Biological Sciences
- Micky Phillippi, Pitt; R-So.; Communication: Rhet & Comm
- Jake Wentzel, Pitt, R-Jr.; Accounting
- Jay Aiello, Virginia, R-Jr..; Economics
- Michael Battista, Virginia, Jr.; Biology
- Louie Hayes, Virginia, R-Jr.; Media Studies
- Justin McCoy, Virginia, R-Fr.; Undeclared
- Stan Smeltzer, Virginia Tech, R-So.; Aerospace Engineering
Panthers’ Choice Award Winners
The gravy train for Pitt wrestling awards and recognition started this week with the 2020 Panthers’ Choice Awards.
First and foremost, as Alan Saunders wrote on Wednesday:
Pitt wide receiver Maurice Ffrench, heavyweight wrestler Demetrius Thomas and volleyball middle blocker Layne Van Buskirk and outside hitter Stephanie Williams will be permanently added to the school’s Victory Walk outside the Cathedral of Learning, the athletic department announced on Wednesday.
Thomas and Williams were named winners of the Blue-Gold Award as the Pitt student-athlete who “best represents the student-athlete “ideal” based on academic scholarship, athletic achievement, leadership qualities and citizenship.”
As keeping with the pattern, Micky and Jake also earned outstanding achievements. Micky was name the Male Athlete of the Year, while Jake took home the James Conner Comeback Player of the Year award.
Nino Bonaccorsi got in on the action as well, receiving the Gold Standard Teammate of the Year award.
All of this recognition, combined with Luke Pletcher’s addition to the coaching staff, and Tyler Badgett and Ryan Michael’s commitment, and you could say it’s been a productive two weeks for the Panthers.