The No. 15 Pitt wrestling team fell 23-12 against ACC foe, No. 14, North Carolina, Friday night in Pittsburgh. On Pitt’s Senior Night, the dual meet saw the Panthers win four of 10 individual bouts. With the loss, Pitt drops to 3-3, 1-3 ACC while North Carolina improves to 3-2, 2-2 ACC on the year.
Pitt honored several graduating Panthers – Cole Aaron, Dallas Bulsak, Jake Cherry, Anthony Colello, Will Kaldes and Tommy O’Brien – prior to the season’s final home match, while other seniors plan to return and utilize the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the pandemic.
The dual meet’s featured matchup at 165 pounds did not disappoint in a battle of redshirt seniors: Pitt’s No. 9 Jake Wentzel and 11 Kennedy Monday of UNC.
In the match’s first period, Wentzel jumped out to a 2-0 lead with over 90 seconds of ride time to end period number one.
In the bout’s second period, that’s when things got interesting and offensively-charged. The ACC foes engaged in an action-packed full two minutes of continuous scrambling, most of which saw Pitt’s reigning ACC Champ fighting to stay off his back during the final 90 seconds of the period. Wentzel survived the second period, nursing a narrow 7-6 match lead with a period to go.
In the third period, Wentzel added a critical takedown and a ride time point to secure the 10-6 decision. This is Wentzel’s second win in a row over Monday, with the last win, a a 3-2 decision in the 2020 ACC semifinals, en route to Wentzel’s ACC title in Pittsburgh last March.
“It wasn’t ideal,” Wentzel said of his second period performance after the match. “Nobody plans on going to their back and having to fight for a minute and 30 seconds. At the end of the day you can either make an excuse or make something happen, and I chose to make something happen. Just staying tough, that’s the Pittsburgh, blue collar mentality we have in this program.”
At 197 pounds, No. 6 Nino Bonaccorsi, who is the reigning ACC Wrestler of the Week, kept the momentum from his upset win over No. 2 Jay Aiello last week on the road in Charlottesville, Virginia. In doing so, Bonaccorsi delivered a very workman-like performance, spoiling the homecoming of Tar Heels 197-pounder and former Thomas Jefferson standout, Max Shaw. Bonaccorsi dominated Shaw, winning 9-3, in a match the featured numerous blood time stoppages for the UNC upper-weight.
197 | Very solid win by Nino! 👏
— Pitt Wrestling (@Pitt_WRES) February 6, 2021
At 125, for the second consecutive match, redshirt freshman Colton Camacho came out on the winning end of a tightly-contested match. Tied 0-0 heading to the third period, Camacho recorded an escape to start the third. Then, Camacho earned an additional point via a stall call against UNC’s Will Guida. The match end by that same 2-0 score in favor of the Pitt Panther.
“Colton (Camacho) is coming along,” Pitt head coach Keith Gavin said of his young lightweight after the match. “He’s wrestled with a lot of composure and showed some grit out there. That’s a big step forward for him. We are happy with the way he has been competing lately.”
At 133, No. 5 Micky Phillippi didn’t get to face the expected UNC starter, No. 11 Jamie Hernandez, who Phillippi bested 8-5 in the 2020 ACC Championships last year. UNC’s Joe Heilmann fought hard, but couldn’t upstage Pitt’s highest-rated wrestler. Phillippi got the W via a 4-1 decision. The victory extends the Derry, Pennsylvania native’s personal winning-streak to 19 straight.
In the first matchup of two ranked wrestlers, No. 17 Cole Matthews fell to reigning 2020 141-pound ACC champ, Zach Sherman. Sherman held a slender 2-0 to start the the final frame. After tweaking his knee early in the second period, Matthews gutted out the third, but came up short, falling to covert on two third-period Gator Rolls. Matthews fell 4-1.
At both 149 and 157, UNC extended the dual meet lead after the nation’s No. 1 149-pounder, Austin O’Connor, recorded a fall at the 4:15 mark of the match. At 157, redshirt UNC senior followed suit with a 17-0 technical fall of his own to extend the match lead to 14-6 at the midway point of the match. Pitt would never recover.
Close losses at 174, 184, and heavyweight for the Panthers widened the UNC margin of victory to the eventual final score of 23-12 in favor of the visitors.
Pitt will finish out the regular season on Feb. 14 when the Panthers travel to Blacksburg, Virginia to take on the No. 8 Virginia Tech Hokies (7-0, 3-0 ACC). Wrestling will begin a 6 p.m. The dual and extra individual matches will air on ACC Network Extra.
No. 14 North Carolina 23, No. 15 Pitt 12
125 | Colton Camacho (Pitt) dec. Will Guide (UNC), 2-0 (Pitt leads, 3-0)
133 | Micky Phillippi (Pitt) dec. Joe Heilmann (UNC), 4-1 (Pitt leads, 6-0)
141 | Zach Sherman (UNC) dec. Cole Matthews (Pitt), 4-1 (Pitt leads, 6-3)
149 | Austin O’Connor (UNC) pins Luke Kemerer (Pitt), 4:15 (UNC leads, 9-6)
157 | Josh McClure (UNC) tech. fall Tyler Badgett (Pitt), 17-0 6:28 (UNC leads, 14-6)
165 | Jake Wentzel (Pitt) dec. Kennedy Monday (UNC), 10-6 (UNC leads, 14-9)
174 | Clay Lautt (UNC) dec. Jared McGill (Pitt), 6-2 (UNC leads, 17-9)
184 | Devin Kane (UNC) dec. Gregg Harvey (Pitt), 6-3 (UNC leads, 20-9)
197 | Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) dec. Max Shaw (UNC), 9-3 (UNC leads, 20-12)
285 | Brandon Whitman (UNC) dec. Jake Slinger (Pitt), 3-1 (UNC wins, 23-12)
141 | Connor Alexander (UNC) dec. Jake Cherry (Pitt), 2-1
149 | Nick Lirette (UNC) dec. Mick Burnett (Pitt), 5-3
157 | Sonny Santiago (UNC) dec. Dallas Bulsak (Pitt), 3-1 (SV1)
165 | Sawyer Davidson (UNC) dec. Hunter Kernan (Pitt), 7-6
174 | Clay Lautt (UNC) dec. Tommy O’Brien (Pitt), 10-3
184 | Devin Kane (UNC) pins James Lledo (Pitt), 1:46
197 | Austin Cooley (Pitt) dec. Mark Chaid (UNC), 9-5