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No. 17 Pitt Falls to Maryland in Home Opener, 18-16



PITTSBURGH — No. 17 Pitt took on Maryland Friday night at Fitzgerald Field House in the home opener of the 2022-23 season. A few unfortunate duel losses doomed Pitt, who fell in a close match, 18-16.

The Panthers (1-1) loss against the Terrapins (4-0) is the first home opening loss since Clarion in 2017. It is also the third straight loss to a Big Ten team, as the Panthers lost to the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes last season.

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“Yeah it was disappointing,” Panthers head coach Keith Gavin said. “Overall, across the ten weight classes, you’d like to see a little more offense output.”

Pitt’s Redshirt junior Colton Camacho (5-2) took an early lead against Maryland No. 26 redshirt first-year Braxton Brown (4-0) in the 125 pound weight class. He used a takedown and a reversal to take a 4-1 lead in the second period. Brown then swung the momentum with a big pin on Camacho and won the duel on a fall to put his team up 6-0.

Gavin told Camacho that he wrestled a good match until Brown pinned him and to not let his confidence get down because of it.

Pitt bounced back with two straight victories to tie the match at 6-6. Redshirt senior No. 8 Micky Phillippi (2-0) used two takedowns and an escape to beat redshirt first-year Jackson Cockrell (1-3) in the 133 pound weight class. Then redshirt senior No. 1 Cole Matthews (2-0) won a close match, 5-1 against first-year No. 33 Kai Miller (5-1) in the 141 pound weight class.

“I’m happy with how I wrestled,” Matthews said. “I feel like I could’ve got on the offense more, but that comes with time. It’s early in the season. I believe I should beat that guy by more. I wrestled well. I felt good.”

Maryland retook the lead, 9-6, after No. 24 redshirt first-year Ethen Miller (8-1) defeated Pitt redshirt sophomore Tyler Badgett (5-2), 9-4 in the 149 pound weight class.

The Panthers looked to tie the match up with senior No. 11 Dazjon Casto (1-1) taking on redshirt junior Michael North (6-1). Casto took a 7-1 lead off two takedowns, a near fall and an escape in the second period. North managed to tie up the duel with a takedown, reversal, a stall warning and a stop warning on Casto. Casto got an escape and used riding time to tie the match at 8, but North beat him in overtime with a takedown to get the upset and give the Terrapins a 12-6 lead.

“….That 157 [duel] was a big one too,” Gavin said. “You can’t let that happen. He melted down after strong first period. He’s gotta manage his weight better and gotta be ready to manage his energy a bit better.”

Pitt redshirt junior No. 14 Holden Heller (2-0) defeated Maryland redshirt junior Lucas Cordio (4-3), 12-4 in the 165 pound weight class to get the match within two points, 12-10.

Panthers redshirt first-year Luca Augustine (1-1) faced a big test in Terrapins sophomore No. 32 Dominic Solis (4-0) in the 174 pound weight class. There were two instances where Augustine appeared to get a takedown, right before the end of the first period and near the end of the third period. Both times, Terrapins head coach, Alex Clemsen challenged and won them, keeping the match at 1-1 heading into overtime.


Solis got a takedown on Augustine to win the duel and put the Terrapins up, 15-10.

Gavin praised Augustine for his performance in the duel and said that he was unlucky to not take the victory over the missed takedown calls.

“He got the takedown on the second one, but the referee called it too soon,” Gavin said. “So he screwed up the call, but if he just lets it go, the takedown’s inevitable. But when you challenge, they look at the point when he called it and when he called it, Luca wasn’t all the way around him yet. The thing is, Luca wrestled well, but stuff like that happens sometimes.”

Pitt then retook the lead off two straight wins. Redshirt sophomore No. 24 Reece Heller (5-1) defeated sophomore Chase Mielnik (1-4) 9-3 to get Pitt within two, 15-13.

Redshirt senior No. 9 Nino Bonaccorsi (2-0) took down redshirt first-year No. 13 Jaxon Smith (5-2) in the highest ranked match of the night, 8-2. The win for Bonaccorsi is the 100th of his career and gave Pitt a 16-15 lead.

The Panthers needed a big duel from senior Jake Slinger (3-3) in the heavyweight class against Terrapins No. 28 graduate Jaron Smith (4-0). Despite solid wrestling from Slinger in the early parts of the first period, Jaron Smith took the lead and stayed in control the rest of the duel. Jaron Smith then won the duel 6-1 and helped the Terrapins to their fourth straight duel victory to open the season.

Pitt faces off against No. 13 Lehigh in a big in-state rivalry match Saturday night at home at 7 p.m.

“We’re ready for Lehigh tomorrow,” Matthews said. “We’re upset about the Maryland loss, but it’s still early and out-of-conference. Couple things that shouldn’t happen happened, like in the 125 and 157 [duel matches]. You switch those around and it’s looking pretty good. Can’t hang our heads on this.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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