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Panthers Beats Duke Convincingly in ACC Opener at Fitzgerald Field House



The No. 12 University of Pittsburgh wrestling team took down Duke Saturday morning at Fitzgerald Field House in Pittsburgh. In the 31-12 win, Pitt came out on top in seven of the 10 individual matches. The Panthers improve to (3-0, 1-0 ACC), while Duke falls to (0-1, 0-1 ACC). This is the first of five straight weekends of Atlantic Coast Conference action for the Panthers.

Pitt couldn’t have asked for much better of a start to the dual against a conference foe. Not only did freshman Colton Camacho pick up his first dual win (in a non-exhibition scenario) thanks to his five first-period points, but also the Panthers’ two-time ACC champ, No. 5 Micky Phillippi got his first fall of the season against Duke’s Parker Decker at the 2:27 mark of the first period. Phillippi was leading 3-2 at the time of the fall.

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“He (Colton) is developing,” Pitt head coach Keith Gavin said in a phone call following the match. “It takes some time for that development to turn into some wins, but he’s doing some little things well. He’s being more aggressive with his hands, getting underhooks, and just being more aggressive about where he wants to be. We think Colton is gonna be alright. It’s a tough weight in the ACC so he’s going to have some tough matches (coming up).”

The 9-0 lead would behoove Pitt as the Panthers dropped the next three matches at 141,149, and 157 respectively.

At 141, senior and Harrisburg, Pa. native Jake Cherry got the nod for usual starter, 2020 NCAA qualifier, Cole Matthews. Cherry fought valiantly, but was unable to escape in the final seconds to get the W. Cherry fell narrowly, 4-3.

At 149, Duke’s lone ranked grappler to compete in the meet, No. 19 (Trrackwrestling) Josh Finesilver, eared a dominant 9-5 win over Pitt’s Luke Kemerer. The former Hempfield wrestler turned Pitt middle-weight was able to get a quick takedown over the Blue Devil star, but faltered after that. Kemerer bounced back with an 8-0 major decision in exhibition play after the main dual.

At 157, Antonio Petrucelli, a freshman out of Pottstown, Pa. filled in for fellow freshman Tyler Badgett, who had gotten starts at Navy and against Lehigh last Saturday. Petrucelli fell to Duke’s Brandon LaRue via fall. The Pitt rookie was trailing 4-1 when the match ended. LaRue proved too much to handle in the top position, racking up more than two minutes of riding time before earning the fall.

At the midway point, Pitt was trailing 12-9, but that didn’t last long. Duke handed No. 6 Jake Wentzel a forfeit victory at 165 to give Pitt back the lead. Pitt refused to relinquish this lead for the remainder of the dual.

As has been the case all season, Pitt dominated the upper-weights to help secure the third straight win (and first ACC win) for the Panthers.

“We have a lot of older guys (in the back half of the lineup),” Pitt senior captain Gregg Harvey said via phone after the match. “We carry a lot of that weight on our shoulders to go out there and make sure we get the job done. And, we want to set an example for our teammates as well.”

Redshirt freshman Jared McGill remained unbeaten on the season after he added a 4-0  decision to his season record. His season record now mirrors his dual meet match score from today.

In the 184-pound bout, team captain Gregg Harvey followed McGill’s lead by adding a convincing 10-0 bonus-point victory to his stat sheet, further extending the Pitt margin.

At 197, the Panthers highest rated wrestler, No. 5 Nino Bonaccori (Phillippi also ranks No. 5 nationally) officially won the dual over the Blue Devils with a strong 9-1 major decision over Duke’s Kaden Russell.  Bonaccori was able to ride the Duke’s redshirt junior for nearly four minutes.

Pitt’s Jake Slinger added some insurance team points will a 21-3 tech fall to bring the dual to a close. Pitt got the dual meet win by a score of 31-12.

Next up, Pitt will travel to Raleigh, NC Friday Jan. 22, for a dual against reigning ACC champ NC State. The Wolfpack sit at No. 4 in the latest NWCA Coaches Poll.


125 | Colton Camacho (Pitt) dec. Logan Agin (Duke)., 6-4 (Pitt leads, 3-0)
133 | Micky Phillippi (Pitt) Fall. Parker Decker (Duke), 10-5 (Pitt leads 9-0)
141 |. Patrick Rowland (Duke) dec. Jake Cherry (Pitt), 4-3 (Pitt leads 9-3)
149 | Josh Finesilver (Duke) dec. Luke Kemerer (Pitt), 9-5 (Pitt leads, 9-6)
157 |. Brandon LaRue Fall. Antonio Petrucelli (Duke), 4-1 (Duke leads 12-9)
165 | Jake Wentzel forfeit victory (Pitt leads 15-12)
174 | Jared McGill (Pitt) dec. Conor Becker (Duke), 4-0 (Pitt leads, 18-12)
184 | Gregg Harvey (Pitt) maj. dec. Luke Chakonis (Duke), 10-0 (Pitt leads, 22-12)
197 | Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) maj. dec. fall Kaden Russell (Duke), 9-1 (Pitt leads, 26-12)
HWT | Jake Slinger (Pitt) tech. fall Brayden Ray (Duke), 21-3 (Pitt wins, 31-12)

Additional Results:

149 | Luke Kemerer (Pitt) maj. dec. Ty Mills (Duke), 8-0
184 | Jack Wimmer (Duke) dec. Nicholas Meglino (Pitt), 3-2
197 | Austin Cooley (Pitt) dec. Vincent Baker (Duke), 9-6
HWT | Cole Rickert (Pitt) maj. dec. Max Fausnaugh (Duke), 14-3
HWT | Jake Slinger (Pitt) dec. Jonah Niesenbaum (Duke), 6-1

*All team ranking information is via the NWCA Coaches Poll and FloWrestling rankings, both released Jan. 12.


Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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