The Pitt Panthers wrestlers have arrived at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri, which means that the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships are is officially here. With that, 10 national titles and 80 All-American distinctions will be up for the taking.
— Pitt Wrestling (@Pitt_WRES) March 16, 2021
Pitt fourth-year head coach Keith Gavin hopes that Micky Phillippi (No. 5 seed 133), Cole Matthews (No. 16 seed 141), Jake Wentzel (No. 3 seed 165), Gregg Harvey (No. 30 seed 184), and Nino Bonaccorsi (No. 6 seed 197) will be a part of those 80 All-Americans.
“My expectations are for the guys to have multiple Americans,” Gavin said. “And hopefully they go as deep as they can.”
Excluding last year, when the NWCA awarded All-American honors without having a national tournament, Tyler Wilps was the last Pitt grappler to stand on the podium at NCAAs as an All-American. Wilps did so it 2015 when he was a NCAA runner-up at 174 pounds, falling to then-No. 2 Matt Brown (Penn State), 5-4.
Brackets can be found here.
Schedule of Events
March 18-20 are sure to be a fantastic few days of high-caliber wrestling inside Enterprise Center. Here are five things to watch for:
- Expect a participant field rich with talent from Keystone State. In total, a tournament-high 49 entrants hail from Pennsylvania and many from the WPIAL In particular. With that, some old PIAA rivalries are expected to resurface on the college mat at some point during these three days of nonstop wrestling. There are slated to be 17 WPIAL wrestlers at this event. Only five states (IL, OH, CA, and NJ) were able to put more than a total of 17 competitors in the big dace, according to FloWrestling.
- Judging by the pre-seeds, three of the five Pitt student-athletes enter the event in All-America position, including 133-pounder Micky Phillippi. It’s interesting to note that Phillippi, the No. 5 seed, has a fare amount of history with the top four seeded wrestlers at the weight. The Derry, Pennsylvania native is just one of two losses on the NCAA resume of top-seeded Daton Fix (Oklahoma State). Additionally, the Pitt lightweight suffered a setback to the then-No.10-seeded Roman Bravo-Young in the consolations of the 2019 national tournament, falling 5-4. As for Phillippi’s history with Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech), their most recent matchup came earlier this season at the ACC Championship, where the VT product came out on top. The pair also meet at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 2015. In Hershey, Phillippi, then a junior, won a 1-0 match to claim the PIAA Class-2A 132 pound title over the Boiling Springs senior, Myers.
- Wentzel too will will have to contend with some familiar foes, not only are five of the six ACC 165-pounders make it to St. Louis, but No. 10 Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State) and No. 17 Thomas Bullard (NC State) have proven problematic for the South Park Pennsylvania native previously. Wittlake ,a potential bracket buster at 165, is on Wentzel’s side of the bracket while Bullard is on the opposite side. Wentzel is 0-2 against Wittlake and 0-3 against Bullard over his career. Both Wittlank and Bullard could upset some people this weekend.
- For Bonaccorsi, this is his first NCAAs at his new weight class, 197 pounds. For those familiar with District 7 wrestling, the 197 pound bracket may seem like a WPIAL homecoming. While Bonaccorsi won’t have the opportunity to avenge his lone loss on the season, NC State’s Isaac Trumble, he is likely on a collision course for a third matchup with Jay Aiello. who Bonaccorsi is 2-0 when facing Aiello this year. It is also likely that Bonaccorsi will see multiple Big 12 wrestlers this weekend, arguably the conference’s deepest weight.
- Should Pitt be able to crown three individual All-Americans at their respective weight this weekend in St. Louis, it will be a truly special occasion. The last time a trio Panthers were within the top-8 at their respective weights was in 1998.