In the last home dual of the season, fans filled the Fitzgerald Field House to cheer on the Panthers and their five graduating seniors one final time. University of Pittsburgh’s match-up against No. 4 North Carolina State University was one that could have gone either way. Several matches were against ranked wrestlers. Unfortunately for Pitt, NC State came out on top more often than not.
Head Coach Keith Gavin said the team prepared for this match the same way they prepare for others but NC State came out the better team. “I was hoping to win more but I wasn’t surprised,” Gavin said. Many of the Pitt wrestlers struggled to finish shots and lost matches by close margins as a result.
One of the matches came at 125, Pitt’s No. 30 Gage Curry faced off with NC State’s No. 14 Jake Camacho. The match was tied 4-4 heading into the second period. Camacho was able to score throughout the second period but Curry was fighting against the clock to earn points. Curry scored off the top of the third period but Camacho then took him down and earned back points to win.
At 157, Pitt’s No. 19 Elijah Cleary hit the mat ready to score points with a takedown off the top. NC State’s No. 11 Ed Scott was quick to escape and earn a takedown of his own and while Cleary worked to earn additional points, Scott controlled the match in the last two periods.
Pitt was able to recoup some points in big matches at 133 and 165.
At 133, Pitt’s No. 9 Micky Phillippi had a fairly even match up with NC State’s No. 14 Kai Orine. The match was tied up until the last 15 seconds when Phillippi kicked it in and was able to score a takedown to earn three for the Panthers.
At 165, Pitt’s No. 16 senior Jake Wentzel had to fight for a win when the match went into overtime with NC State’s No. 22 Thomas Bullard. After the match, Wentzel said Bullard had beat him four times since high school adding, “This one was personal.” During the match, referees had called Wentzel for stalling twice. Calls coaches didn’t quite agree with but applauded Wentzel’s performance. “He did a great job of keeping his composure,” said Gavin. “There were some questionable calls in that match, I’m not sure what was going on but he really controlled that match and I liked the way he did it.” After two minutes of sudden victory, where wrestlers stayed tied, Wentzel was able to win in the first tie-breaker. “I looked up in the crowd and I knew I wasn’t giving that up just because I was tired,” Wentzel said. “I was going to do everything I could do to get this one done.”
Pitt takes on Duke next Friday in North Carolina. The team has some time to work on finishing shots before the big tournament. The Panthers head to University of Virginia the first week of March for the ACC tournament. “They better be ready for it,” Gavin said with a smile. “Cause it’s not moving.”
PITT PANTHERS VS. NO. 4 NC STATE BULLDOGS
NO. 30 GAGE CURRY VS. NO 14 JAKE CAMACHO
NC State’s Jake Camacho scored a takedown with a minute left in the first period. Pitt’s Gage Curry was able to earn an escape point seconds later. Camacho then shot again and earned another 2 before Curry escaped and then returned the takedown, tying the score 4-4 at the end of the first period. Camacho chose bottom in the second period. Camacho was able to earn an escape point and then take Curry down. Curry attempted to regain a point towards the end of the period but was unable to do so. The score at the end of two was 4-7. Curry chose down in the third and escaped. Camacho used the time on his feet to earn another takedown and put Curry on his back to earn nearfall points. Curry then earned another escape and a stalling call to end the match with a final score with riding time of Curry 6, Camacho 15.
NO. 9 MICKY PHILLIPPI VS. NO. 14 KAI ORINE
Pitt’s Micky Phillippi had a tough time finding points in the first period. The match remained scoreless going into the match with NC State’s Kai Orine. Phillippi took bottom in the second and fought for a point on the edge of the mat to earn the first point. With a score of 1-0 going into the 3rd period, Orine chose bottom and escaped to tie up the score. Phillippi then took Orine down with 15 seconds left in the match to win with a score of 4-1 with riding time.
NO. 8 COLE MATTHEWS VS. NO. 24 RYAN JACK
Pitt’s Cole Matthews is known for turning defensive into offensive. NC State’s Ryan Jack did not take the offensive and the first period remained scoreless with nothing but hand-fighting. Jack chose down in the second and earned an escape point to get on the board first. While neutral, Jack earned a stalling call and the score remained 0-1 going into the third. Matthews chose bottom for the start of the third and quickly tied up the score with an escape. With less than 15 seconds in the third period, Jack attempted a takedown and Matthews was able to counter it to score 2. Final score Matthews 3, Jack 1.
DAN MANCINI VS. NO. 3 TARIQ WILSON
NC State’s Tariq Wilson got on the board early with a takedown off the top of the first period before Mancini scored a point for an escape. Mancini was called for stalling toward the end of the period where the score remained 1-2. Wilson chose bottom to start the second period. Mancini was then called for an illegal hold while trying to keep Wilson on the mat, which gave Wilson a point. Still on bottom, Wilson was able to escape for an additional point for a score of 1-4 at the end of the second. Mancini chose bottom to start the third and earned an additional escape. While in neutral, Wilson earned an additional takedown and then let Mancini up. Mancini attempted to earn back lost points with a takedown that ended in the two banging heads and blood time was called. No points were earned as a result. After blood time ended, Mancini attempted another takedown but the final buzzer went off before points were awarded. Final score, Mancini 3, Wilson 6.
NO. 19 ELIJAH CLEARY VS. 11 ED SCOTT
Pitt’s Elijah Cleary was after a win and had a takedown right at the start of the match. Scott was able to earn an escape point right after. Scott then returned the takedown and Cleary was unable to escape to tie the score. With a score of 2-3 going into the second, Scott chose down and earned an escape. Cleary was then called for fleeing the mat which earned Scott a point to bring the score 2-5 going into the final period. Cleary chose neutral to start the third and attempted a takedown but was unable to finish. Scott was then called for stalling before attempting a takedown himself which ended in a stalemate. Final score, Cleary 2, Scott 6 with riding time.
NO. 16 JAKE WENTZEL VS. NO. 22 THOMAS BULLARD
Pitt’s Jake Wentzel earned a stall warning 30 seconds into the match after being pushed out by NC State’s Thomas Bullard. Wentzel then turned around to earn a takedown and refused to allow Bullard to earn an escape point. With a score of 2-0 going into the second, Bullard chose bottom. Bullard reversed and put Wentzel on his back but failed to earn any nearfall points. Wentzel then was called for stalling again which gave Bullard a point to bring the score to 2-3 going into the third. Wentzel chose bottom to start the third and escaped to tie up the score. The matched ended up in overtime where Bullard attempted to score but ended up in a front headlock. Wentzel was not able to do anything with the position and it was called as a stalemate. Bullard chose down and was not able to score any points. Wentzel then chose down in the final period of overtime and was able to score an escape point to win the match 4-3.
HUNTER KERNAN VS. NO. 4 HAYDEN HIDLAY
NC State’s Hayden Hidlay got on the board early with a takedown and then turned Pitt’s Hunter Kernan to earn four nearfall points. Hidlay then readjusted and turned Kernan again to earn an additional four nearfall points. And then readjusted and turned Kernan for a third time to earn four more nearfall points. The match ended with a technical fall and a final score of Kernan 0 and Hidlay 18.
GREGG HARVEY VS. NO. 3 TRENT HIDLAY
NC State’s Trent Hidlay took Pitt’s Gregg Harvey down right at the first whistle. Harvey was able to escape and Hidlay took took Harvey down again and turned him to earn four nearfall points. Harvey escaped and Hidlay took him down again. Harvey then escaped and was called for stalling. With a score of 3-10 going into the second period, Hidlay started on bottom and earned an escape point. While in neutral, Hidlay took Harvey down again. Harvey escaped and was taken down again for a score of 4-15 going into the third. Harvey chose bottom to start the period. Harvey was able to earn an additional escape point off the top of the period before Hidlay took him down again. Harvey escaped and was called for stalling to give Hidlay an additional point. Hidlay then took Harvey down again, Harvey escaped and was taken down again. Hidlay won by technical fall 22-5.
NO. 6 NINO BONACCORSI VS. NO. 16 ISAAC TRUMBLE
Pitt’s Nino Bonaccorsi attemped a takedown in the first period which ended in a stalemate with NC State’s Isaac Trumble. With a score of 0-0 going into the second period, Bonaccorsi chose to start the period on bottom. Trumble kept his legs hooked under Bonaccorsi’s body for much of the period and Bonaccorsi was unable to score any points. Bonaccorsi looked to have reversed at the end of the period, referees did not award any points and Pitt challenged the call but the call stood. With no points going into the third period, Bonaccorsi allowed Trumble a point after he chose bottom. Bonaccorsi continued taking shots, ending in stalemates and Trumble was given a stall warning. Final score, Bonaccorsi 0, Trumble 1.
JAKE SLINGER VS. NO. 26 TYRIE HOUGHTON
Pitt’s Jake Slinger kicked off the match with a takedown to start. NC State’s Tyrie Houghton then reversed to tie up the score. Houghton chose bottom to start the second. Houghton was able to earn an escape point with a minute left in the period. In the neutral position, Houghton was able to score a takedown to bring the score to 2-5 heading into the final period. Slinger chose bottom to start the third period and earned an escape. Houghton then earned two additional takedowns and Slinger just one escape to end the match with a score of Slinger 4, Houghton 9.
Final score: PITT 9, NC STATE 26