PITTSBURGH — The Pitt Panthers showed out for their first dual meet of the season at the Fitzgerald Field House on Monday.
The Big 10’s Maryland Terrapins tried to keep up but they were continuously shut down in a 26-7 win for the Panthers.
Pitt, coming off its first loss of the season against Lehigh just one day earlier, had quite a show for fans, who weren’t able to watch the team in person last season due to COVID-19.
Nino Bonaccorsi said having fans back in the stands helped the team bounce back from the loss.
“It’s a lot nicer than having the cardboard cut outs,” Bonaccorsi said. “It felt good getting back in there.”
Pitt wasted no time doing just that. At 125, Gage Curry started the night off with a technical fall against Maryland’s Zach Spence. From there, three of the 10 matches went into overtime, with Pitt coming out on top every time. 141 pounder Cole Matthews had one of those matches.
Matthews had a tough time offensively against Maryland’s Danny Bertoni.
“I was trying to get to my front headlock and every time I did my right elbow was just a little too deep, kept dragging me out,” he said.
For all three periods, Matthews showed his skills defensively. Bertoni nearly scored a takedown in the third period, which may have cost the match Matthews. Maryland’s coach even challenged referees when they did not give Bertoni points for the takedown. After review, referees kept their call and it sent the match into overtime.
Within 13 seconds, Matthews took the win.
“I ended up finding my front head lock and got that takedown,” Matthews said. “Matches like this come and go. I just need to go to the next one and try to get better.”
The Terrapins struggled to get on the board at all. The team score stayed at 0 until Dom Solis defeated Pitt’s Hunter Kernan at 174. Several of Maryland’s lightweight wrestlers gave up points and warnings for stalling.
Pitt on the other hand, came to play. Coach Keith Gavin was happy with the bounce-back from Sundays match-up.
“That’s always important to bounce back and have a good performance,” Gavin said. “We wrestled well.”
There’s always room for improvement. Many of the Panthers struggled offensively. Something Gavin says they will need to work on before their next match.
“Some of those matches were maybe a lot closer than they needed to be,” Gavin said. “We’ve got to score more points.”
MATCH BY MATCH
125 (24) Gage Curry vs Zach Spence
Curry started off aggressive with a takedown right off the whistle. After letting Spence have a point, Curry seemed to lose a bit of steam. He got a second take down in the second and then hit Spence with a bow and arrow, racking up four nearfall points back-to-back-to-back. An extra point for riding time and Curry took the match 17-2.
133 (5) Micky Phillippi vs King Sandoval
Micky Phillippi did not have an easy match to start. He fought for a take down in the first, racked up an escape 10 seconds into the second and took another after Sandoval had an illegal hold. While staying heavy on top, Phillippi won the match 5-0.
141 (17) Cole Matthews vs. Danny Bertoni
Cole Matthews was aggressive defensively, but struggled to rack up points. Each wrestler had a point for an escape. Things got interesting in the third period when Danny Bertoni went for the take down but referees would not give him 2. Maryland’s coach challenged the call but the refs stuck to their decision. The call sent the match into sudden victory. Matthews threw a headlock in 13 seconds and won the match 3-1.
149 Luke Kemerer vs. Will Berkowitz
Luke Kemerer started the match with a takedown, showing good control on top. Berkowitz was called for stalling on bottom, where he remained for most of the match, giving Kemerer very little to work with. Kemerer ended up winning 8-2.
157 (33) Elijah Cleary vs. Lucas Cordio
First period saw hand fighting and a strong push for a takedown by Elijah Cleary with just 10 seconds left in the period, which he failed to get points for. In the second period, Cordio earned an escape but failed to score an addition points on his feet. Cleary tied things up in the third with an escape of his own, he too failed to score on his feet, sending the match into sudden victory. Cordio attempted a take down in OT, Cleary countered and took 2 with 1:13 left in sudden victory. Cordio won 3-1.
165 (4) Jake Wentzel vs. (33) John Martin Best
In the only ranked match of the night, Jake Wentzel was at a loss for much of the first two periods. Best had a strong left undertook that had Wentzel reaching for points. In the second period, Wentzel took bottom and earned a point getting to his feet. Best may have controlled the match on his feet but it was game over when Best picked bottom in the third. Wentzel stayed heavy, hitting Best with a hard cross face that had him grunting in pain before throwing a bow and arrow. Even with the control, Wentzel struggled to earn any back points. Remaining on top for the entire third period earned Wentzel a win with a score of 2-0.
174 (33) Hunter Kernan vs. Dom Solis
Hunter Kernan fought on his feet for the first period, but gave up 2 to Dom Solis with just five seconds left in the period. Kernan earned an escape in the second but lacked reattack. Kernan lost the match in the third. Solis took bottom, got the escape, a takedown and nearfall points. Kernan lost 2-11.
184 James Lledo vs. Kyle Cochron
Kyle Cochron took the match early scoring a takedown in the first period. James Lledo was focused on getting a reversal after choosing bottom in the second, but with Cochron’s strong figure 4 on his right leg, Lledo failed to score any. Cochron took bottom in the third, escaped and won the match 0-3.
197 (2) Nino Bonaccorsi vs. Jaron Smith
Nino Bonaccorsi took control of the match early, racking up 2 take downs and 2 nearfall points in the first period. Bringing the score 6-1. By the second period, Bonaccorsi, worked top with an arm bar but struggled to rack up additional nearfall points. Smith escaped bringing the score 6-2. Bonaccorsi chose bottom in the third but ended up on top. With riding time, Bonaccorsi won the match 10-3.
285 Jake Slinger vs (32) Zach Schrader
The match started off slow with nothing but hand fighting through the first period. Slinger earned an escape point in the second. Schrader tied things up with his own escape point in the third, sending the match into sudden victory. Schrader took a shot and Slinger stayed neutral, eventually, earning 2 points himself. After the call, the referees watched the video and took the 2 points away, sending the heavyweights back into the circle. At this point, Slinger was ready to be done. Within seconds, he got the takedown and won the final match of the night, 3-1.
The wrestlers have some time to work on their offense. Their next match is scheduled at Ohio State on December 12.