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No. 16 Pitt Falls to No. 4 Virginia Tech in Regular Season Finale



The No. 16 Pitt wrestling team fell, 27-12, against ACC dual meet champion, No. 4 Virginia Tech on Friday night in Blacksburg. Pitt’s final regular season and conference dual of this COVID-19-shortened campaign saw the Panthers win three of 10 individual bouts. With the loss, Pitt drops to 3-4, 1-4 ACC while Virginia Tech improves to a perfect 9-0, 5-0 ACC on the year.

The starting 10 for both teams looked different on Friday. Only four bouts showcased the traditional starters for both squads: 157, 165, 174, and 184. Virginia Tech won convincingly in three of those four, including 157, 174, and 184. Pitt announced before the meet that two wrestlers were unavailable for the meet because of COVID-19 protocols.

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“We had some different guys in the lineup, but that’s just been the year (that we are in),” Pitt head coach Keith Gavin said. “We knew there was a good chance we’d have a dual meet like that (this year), and tonight we did.”

“Overall, we need to be more offensive, Gavin continued. “(There were) some good results tonight with (Jake) Wentzel, and Nino (Bonaccorsi) looked good. Cole Matthews I’m proud of because he’s fighting through some stuff.”

At 165 pounds, the featured match of the dual did not disappoint. While the match didn’t go the distance, No. 6 Jake Wentzel looked absolutely dominant against No. 1 Mekhi Lewis. Wentzel got the win, 3-0, after two periods of action. An apparent left shoulder injury to Lewis ended the match early. Wentzel had over two minutes of riding time when the match was called.

In the first period, after Wentzel was in deep on a single-leg, Lewis got defensive, hooping around on his free leg for over a minute before Wentzel finally secured the takedown. Wentzel ended the period in the top position with a slim 2-0 lead.

In the second. Wentzel authored a debilitatingly physical, but clean ride for a minute and 36 seconds before injury time was called for the VT middleweight. Due to the injury, Wentzel was able to choose his position on the restart. He chose bottom and escaped to take a 3-0 into the third. However, the match was called. Wentzel won by that same 3-0 score.

“Jake looked great tonight,” Gavin said. “The match started similar to the last time they wrestled [in 2019] with Jake in on a single leg for a long time, but he finished tonight. And once he gets on top, it’s really tough for the other guy to score. It was an unfortunate ending, but we felt the match was under control at that point.

With the win, the South Park, Pennsylvania native, Wentzel, not only avenges a 2019 loss to Lewis, but also brings a 29-match winning-streak to a close for the Hokies’ phenom. This streak was currently the longest active winning-streak in the NCAA.

At 141, No. 16 Matthews was able to end a string of three consecutive losses with a strong showing, 8-4, over former VT starter Collin Gerardi. After a second period that as filled with some fantastic scrambles, Matthews found himself nursing a narrow lead, 2-1, into the final frame. Matthews found his offense in third, scoring two takedowns, an escape, and a riding time point to earn the four-point win.

In the final bout of the dual, No. 5 Bonaccorsi, ended things on a high note for the visiting Panthers, securing a 8-1 decision to bring the dual to a close, 27-9, in favor of Virginia Tech. The win allowed Bonaccorsi to improve to 7-1 on the year.

Also of note, at 149, true freshman Mick Burnett made his collegiate debut for Pitt against No. 13 Bryce Andonian. Burnett kept it to a one-point margin after three minutes, but Andonian pulled away as the match progressed. Andonian earned a 10-1 major decision.

The results were as follows:

No. 4 Virginia Tech 27, No. 16 Pitt 12

285 | Hunter Catka (VT) dec. Austin Cooley (Pitt), 4-0 (VT leads, 3-0)

125 | Sam Latona (VT) maj. dec. Colton Camacho (Pitt), 12-3 (VT leads, 7-0)

133 | Joey Prata (VT) dec. Louis Newell (Pitt), 3-1 (VT leads, 10-0)

141 | Cole Matthews (Pitt) dec. Collin Gerardi (VT), 8-4 (VT leads, 10-3)

149 | Bryce Andonian (VT) maj. dec. Mick Burnett (Pitt), 10-1 (VT leads, 14-3)

157 | Connor Brady (VT) maj. dec. Tyler Badgett (Pitt), 12-1 (VT leads, 18-3)

165 | Jake Wentzel (Pitt) injury default Mekhi Lewis (VT), 5:00 (VT leads, 18-9)

174 | Dakota Howard (VT) tech. fall Jared McGill (Pitt), 21-6 (VT leads, 23-9)

184 | Hunter Bolen (VT) maj. dec. Gregg Harvey (Pitt), 12-4 (VT leads, 27-9)

197 | Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) dec. Andy Smith (VT), 8-1 (VT wins, 27-12)

Additional Matches

141 | Sam Hillegas (VT) maj. dec. Ryan Michaels (Pitt), 14-3

157 | Clayton Ulrey (VT) maj. dec. Antonio Petrucelli (Pitt), 18-6

174 | Kolton Clark (VT) win by forfeit over Dane Csencsits (Pitt), 1:33

197 | Austin Cooley (Pitt) dec. Stan Smeltzer (VT), 10-4

285 | Hunter Catka (VT) maj. dec. Jake Slinger (Pitt), 12-4

Looking ahead, Pitt will have a little more than two weeks free from competition before they travel back to Raleigh, North Carolina for the 2021 ACC Championships, hosted by No. 7 NC State, Feb. 28th. Then, the Panthers will head to St. Louis, Missouri for the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship, March 18-20.

*All team ranking information is via the NWCA Coaches Poll rankings released Feb. 9. All individual ranking information is via FloWrestling rankings released Feb. 8.


Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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3 years ago

I am curious why Cooley got the start over slinger, though he did do better against Catka…Also what is Cooley weighing in at? is he 197 or Hwt? Lastly is Ryan Michaels really that heavy? I remember him in high school and he didn’t seem like a big kid, haha….Thanks for the coverage.

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