By early January 2020, the eventual ACC runner-up Pitt wrestling team had already completed six dual meets (winning five of them), one open tournament at Michigan State, and a holiday tournament in the Southern Scuffle.
January 2021 has officially rolled around, and with that, a talented squad of Pitt grapplers, ranked No. 15 in the latest InterMat rankings, was ready to take the mat for their season opener in Annapolis, Maryland against first-year head coach Cary Kolat and his Navy Midshipmen.
An inexperienced Mids lineup took an early lead, but hit a wall at the midway point of the dual, and the more experienced Panthers took over to record a 22-14 victory in their first dual meet of the new season.
The 11-point Pitt come-from-behind victory was made possible by five consecutive wins to end the dual, including back-to-back technical falls by Nino Bonaccorsi at 197 pounds and Jake Slinger at heavyweight.
Pitt dropped four of the first five bouts of the dual, including a 16-1 technical fall at 157 pounds in what was a battle of two true freshmen. During the 157-pound bout, Navy’s Andrew Cerniglia was able to register multiple four-point near falls against Pitt newcomer Tyler Badget to bring their match to a close early in the second period.
No. 14 Cole Matthews also dropped a one-point match in sudden victory decision to No. 13 Cody Trybus at 141 pounds in what was the first of two ranked-versus-ranked bouts of the night.
After five bouts, Navy was out to what looked like a virtually insurmountable 14-3 team lead at the halfway point of the dual meet. Pitt’s lone win to that point came at 133 pounds where defending ACC champion and No. 4 Micky Phillippi earned a strong 8-3 decision over Jacob Allen.
The 165-pound bout probably the most anticipated, a top-10 matchup between Pitt’s Jake Wentzel and Navy’s Tanner Skidgel. Wentzel secured the upset victory by way of a 5-2 decision that came down to the wire.
Wentzel’s tightly-contested win was the shot in the arm that the Panthers needed. From there, Pitt rattled off four straight wins.
First, redshirt freshman Jared McGill narrowly edged Navy’s Dean Caravela 3-2, having to fend off multiple offensive attacks in the final 30 seconds to preserve the decision.
No. 18 184-pounder Gregg Harvey kept the winning streak going with a dominant 12-7 decision that wasn’t as close as the score.
The Panthers took their first lead, 17-14, after No. 5 Nino Bonaccorsi added five points to the Pitt team score after registering a 24-point technical fall.
Pitt ended the meet in style, as heavyweight Jake Slinger delivered a technical fall of his own without surrendering a single point to Navy’s Riley Smith. Slinger’s 16-0 decision gave Pitt a 22-14 dual meet victory, their first dual meet win of the season.
For Cary Kolat, the Midshipmen drop to 0-1 on the year – this the first loss of his career at the Naval Academy.
The Panthers will be back in action Saturday, Jan. 9 for their home opener at the Fitzgerald Field House when they host Lehigh at 5 p.m.
125: Logan Treaster (Navy) dec. Colton Camacho (Pitt), 5-1 – Navy 3, Pitt 0
133: No. 4 Micky Phillippi (Pitt) dec. Jacob Allen (Navy), 8-3 – Navy 3, Pitt 3
141: No. 13 Cody Trybus (Navy). dec. SV #14 Cole Mathews (Pitt), 6-4, – Navy 6, Pitt 3
149: No. 19 Casey Cobb (Navy) dec. Luke Kemerer (Pitt), 5-4 – Navy 9, Pitt 3
157: Andrew Cerniglia (Navy) TF (2nd period) Tyler Badget (Pitt), 16-1 – Navy 14, Pitt 3
165: No. 10 Jake Wentzel (Pitt) dec. No. 7 Tanner Skidgel (Navy), 5-2 – Navy 14, Pitt 6
174: Jared McGill (Pitt) dec. Dean Caravela (Navy), 3-2 – Navy 14, Pitt 12
184: No. 18 Gregg Harvey (Pitt). dec. Shane Finney (Navy), 12-7 – Navy 14, Pitt 12
197: No. 5 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) TF (3rd period) Malcolm Wiley (Navy), 24-9 – Navy 14, Pitt 17
285: Jake Slinger (Pitt) TF (3rd period) Riley Smith (Navy), 16-0 – Navy 14, Pitt 22
*All team ranking information is via InterMat rankings released Dec. 29.
*All individual ranking information is via InterMat rankings released Dec. 29.
An additional mat was used during and after the dual to give numerous student-athletes on both teams the opportunity to log additional matches. Pitt’s starters faced Navy’s reserves and vice versa following the dual as well. The results (shown below) did not factor into the dual meet scoring.
125 | Colton Camacho (Pitt) dec. Grant Treaster (Navy), 5-0
133 | Micky Phillippi (Pitt) tech. fall Luke Lucerne (Navy), 23-8, 6:39
133 | Ryan Michaels (Pitt) dec. Jacob Allen (Navy), 9-5
133 | Luke Lucerne (Navy) dec. Ryan Michaels (Pitt), 3-1
141 | Cole Matthews (Pitt) dec. Tyler Hunt (Navy), 9-4
149 | Casey Cobb (Navy) dec. Mick Burnett (Pitt), 5-1
157 | Tyler Badgett (Pitt) dec. Val Park (Navy), 4-2 SV1
157 | Andrew Cerniglia (Navy) tech. fall Dallas Bulsak (Pitt), 17-1, 2:38
157 | Val Park (Navy) fall Dallas Bulsak (Pitt), 5:45
165 | Jake Wentzel (Pitt) maj. dec. Henry Hague (Navy), 10-0
174 | Jared McGill (Pitt) pins Ethan Stern (Navy), 3:13
174 | Tommy O’Brien (Pitt) maj. dec. Ethan Stern (Navy), 15-3
174 | Dean Caravela (Navy) dec. Tommy O’Brien (Pitt), 5-4
184 | Gregg Harvey (Pitt) maj. dec. Gary Eakin (Navy), 13-4
184 | Nicholas Meglino (Pitt) maj. dec. Gary Eakin (Navy), 14-4
184 | Shane Finney (Navy) pins Nicholas Meglino (Pitt), 6:25
197 | Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) pins Paul Warner (Navy), 1:44
197 | James Lledo (Pitt) pins Paul Warner (Navy), 0:40
197 | James Lledo (Pitt) pins Malcolm Wiley (Navy), 0:58
285 | Jake Slinger (Pitt) pins Christian Bryant (Navy), 1:37