Pitt senior and team captain Jake Wentzel has been named the first Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestler of the Week of the 2021 season for the first time in his collegiate career. The South Park, Pa. native also took home National College Wrestler of the Week honors awarded by The Open Mat and the Office Depot/Supra Student-Athlete of the Week.
With the Panthers trailing 14-3 in Sunday’s season opener at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Maryland, the 10th-ranked Wentzel defeated Navy’s No. 7-ranked senior Tanner Skidgel, winning by 5-2 decision while earning nearly two minutes of riding time. The victory was the first of five straight by the 14th-ranked Panthers in the upper weight classes as they rallied to complete an 11-point come-from-behind team victory Pitt won by a final score of 22-14.
“Jake found a way tonight, even when it didn’t look like it was going to go his way,” Pitt head coach Keith Gavin said of Wentzel after the match. “The upper weights did a really nice job. We know we can count on the likes of Wentzel, Harvey and Bonaccorsi, but it was great to see McGill and Slinger win as well.”
Congrats, Jake Wentzel 👏👏
• Wrestler of the Week
• National Wrestler of the Week
— Pitt Wrestling (@Pitt_WRES) January 5, 2021
Following the dual, Wentzel improved to 2-0 on the season with a 10-0 major decision over Navy’s Henry Hague as the Panthers and Midshipmen completed a variety of additional individual matches.
Wentzel, the defending ACC champion at 165 pounds and a 2020 NWCA All-American, entered 2021 ranked in the Top 10 by several media outlets. FloWrestling noted him as the No. 7 wrestler nationally in his weight class, while InterMat put him at No. 10 in the preseason rankings.
The Panthers will host No. 17 Lehigh on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Field House. The match will not be open to the general public due to Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 mitigation regulations, but it will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra via the WatchESPN app.