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Briar Priest and Cooper Warshel Commit to Pitt Wrestling



Pitt Wrestling and Head coach Keith Gavin have added two more commits to the program: one for the Class of 2021 and one for 2022.

Cooper Warshel announced his commitment to Pitt on April 22nd, but Pittsburgh Sports Now had not covered it previously. In an article published by Eric Knopsnyder in the Tribune-Democrat, Warshel commented, “when it came to colleges, I wanted to go somewhere that would put me in the best position to be successful, wrestling-wise and business-wise. They’re just getting better and better. I want to be a part of that upward trend.”

Pitt wrestling coverage on Pittsburgh Sports Now is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Wrestling Club.
Pittsburgh Wrestling Club

Warshel went 95-36 while wrestling at Bishop McCort in high school and placed twice at the 2A PIAA Championships: eighth as a junior and sixth as a senior. He is also workout partners at Young Guns with his fellow future Panther Brock McMillen, another positive connection that swayed Warshel towards choosing Pitt. He also noted while speaking to Knopsnyder that he has only started to make big strides in the sport recently, and believes he has a high ceiling. Warshel will wrestle 149-157 pounds in college.

Photo courtesy of Pitt Athletics.

Briar Priest, a Hempfield junior is also coming to Oakland. Priest was the second of three (so far) to declare Pitt as his school of choice for the 2022 graduating class, and to date, all three are WPIAL natives. He will be joined by Connellsville’s Jared Keslar and Mt. Lebanon’s Mac Stout.

Priest has posted an impressive high school career thus far, with 98 wins through three seasons, and a state title as a junior. That’s even more impressive when you consider he didn’t even qualify for states before last year, and avenged two earlier losses to a very tough Dylan Chappell in the finals.

“I chose Pitt because of the location, offer, and the coaching staff. The coaches seem great, and I can’t wait to get to know them better and start wrestling; the kids on the team are hard working,” explained Priest. “My goal is to become an All American and complete my major. I need to work on better technique, get stronger, and get ready to compete on that level.”

He will most likely compete at 141 or 149.

Off the Mat News

Three members of the University of Pittsburgh wrestling program were honored as 2021 Scholar All-Americans, the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) announced. Nino Bonaccorsi, Micky Phillippi and Jake Wentzel each garnered the prestigious recognition after stellar years both on the mat and in the classroom for head coach Keith Gavin. For Phillippi and Wentzel, the award makes them two-time NWCA Scholar All-Americans after receiving the honor last year as well, while Bonaccorsi earned his first nod. Bonaccorsi is an English Literature major; Phillippi is double majoring in Communications and Legal Studies; Wentzel is studying accounting in the Katz Graduate School of Business. The trio each own a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) over 3.0, which made them eligible for selection to the NWCA Scholar All-America Team this year.

After winning the US Open several weeks ago at 61kg, Pitt alum Shelton Mack has been selected by USA Wrestling to represent the United States at the Pan American Championships to be held May 27-30th in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Shelton Mack with his “Stop Sign” trophy after winning the US Open. He poses with his Olympic gold medalist coach, Kendall Cross.

Lastly, a bit of negative news. This has been public for several months, but not covered on this site. Pitt’s most accomplished member of its 2021 recruiting class Gary Steen, decommitted, deciding instead to head for State College and wrestle for Cael Sanderson. This was surely a blow to the program, as Steen figured to be a top notch 125 pounder for the next 4-5 years. The class is still promising no doubt, but Steen was a headliner, and is cousins with Cole Matthews, which makes it sting even more.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Class of ' 69
Class of ' 69
2 years ago

Why can’t Pitt recruit the elite Pa wrestlers? It seems they either go to PSU or out of state.

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