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Pitt’s Cole Matthews Moves to Semis, Earns All-America Honors



Update (4:47 PM)

Three wrestlers for Pitt advanced in the consolation bracket as Matthews moved on to the semifinals. Micky Phillipi, Jake Wentzel and Nino Bonaccorsi all moved into the round of 12 for their respective weight classes.

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Phillipi started things off with a 4-2 decision over Rutgers’ Joe Olivieri. Things were tied 0-0 after the first when Phillipi took the first lead after an escape to make it 1-0. A pair of takedowns made the score 3-2 before Phillipi came away with the 4-2 decision.

It was his second match against Richie Koehler of Rider that set Phillipi apart from the rest. Again, a scoreless first allowed Phillipi to take a 1-0 lead in the second with an escape. However, Koehler quickly jumped to a 7-4 lead that made things difficult for Phillipi. Consecutive takedowns in the final minute of the match allowed Phillipi to tie things up at 8-8 before coming away with the 9-8 decision after an escape to end it. The win moves Phillipi on to the round of 12.

The only loss for Pitt in the afternoon came when Virginia’s Jake Keating defeated Cleary in the second round of the consolation bracket. Cleary got an early takedown, but two escapes allowed Keating to knot the score up at 2-2. Despite Cleary coming close to scoring on several occasions, a stalling point awarded to Keating was the difference maker as he pulled away with the 3-2 win and Cleary’s Pitt wrestling career came to an end.

All Wentzel needed in his first match against Binghamton’s Brian Cassella was a takedown in the first as he came away with the 2-0 victory. His next match, he really didn’t need much more but he put up more anyway as he stomped Arizona State’s Anthony Valencia by a 13-2 major decision. Things were close after the first with a 2-1 score, but six consecutive points in the second put things out of reach for Valencia.

Bonaccorsi was the last Pitt wrestler of the afternoon and he started his day off with a close 3-2 decision over ND State’s Owen Pentz. After a scoreless first, Bonaccorsi fell behind in the second when Pentz got an escape, but a takedown gave Bonaccorsi a 2-1 lead. A penalty point gave him a 3-1 lead and sealed the victory for Bonaccorsi.

He then went to face Michigan’s Patrick Burki. He started things off with a takedown of Burki to give himself a 2-0 lead. Burki escaped in the second to make it 2-1, but had a tough time getting Bonaccorsi. An escape to start the third was his third and final point that netted him the 3-1 decision.


No. 6-seed Cole Matthews won a 7-5 decision over No. 3-seed Sebastian Rivera in the 2022 NCAA Wrestling Championship at Little Ceasars Arena in Detroit on Friday to advance to the 141-pound semifinals and become the 83rd All-American in Pitt’s program.

A redshirt junior, Matthews became an All-American for the first time in his career. A three-time NCAA qualifier, Matthews missed out when the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, he lost against No. 1 seed Jaydin Eierman in the second round.

Rivera took an early lead with a take down, but Matthews quickly escaped, then got a takedown to retake the lead at 3. Rivera quickly followed that up by escaping to tie things up after two periods. Matthew regained the lead in the third period, when Rivera let him up from the bottom position and then Matthews sealed the win with a takedown with a little over 30 seconds left to make it 6-3. The two wrestlers each got a few more points with the final being 7-5.

Matthews moves on to the semifinals where he will face No. 15 Kizhan Clarke, a fellow ACC wrestler from North Carolina. Matthews defeated Clarke in the dual meet between the squads on Feb. 4, 3-2. It was Clarke’s first loss of the season. Clarke was seeded second in the ACC Tournament, but was upset before getting to face Matthews in the finals, which the Pitt wrestler won.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 Nick Lee of Penn State looks to defend his title against No. 4 Real Woods of Stanford.

Four other Pitt wrestlers are in action Friday morning in the consolation portion of the bracket, including 2021 All-Americans Nino Bonaccorsi and Jake Wentzel. This story will be updated with their results.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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