No. 24 Pitt Faces Massive Challenge to Prove Themselves Against ACC Rival No. 7 Virginia Tech
No. 24 Pitt travels to Blacksburg, Va. to take on ACC Rival No. 7 Virginia Tech Friday night at 7 p.m. The match is one of the best in a great night of wrestling across the country, as No. 1 Penn State faces off against No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Michigan hosts No. 6 Ohio State.
The Panthers come into this matchup 7-2 overall and 1-0 in ACC play after dismantling Virginia last week. The Hokies are 7-2 overall and 1-0 in the ACC as well. They have won their past four matches, including a close 16-14 victory over the then ranked No. 5 NC State Wolfpack last week.
Pitt has a real chance of rising to the top of the ACC if they win this match Friday night. The probable matchups look like this:
Weight Class-Pitt wrestler vs. Virginia Tech wrestler. The rankings go Intermat/Coaches Poll
125-NR/No. 30 Redshirt Junior Colton Camacho vs. NR/NR Redshirt First-Year Cooper Flynn
133-No. 7/No. 6 Redshirt Senior Micky Philippi vs. No.5/No. 4 Redshirt Junior Sam Latona
141-No. 3/No. 2 Redshirt Senior Cole Matthews vs. No. 12/No. 10 First-Year Tom Crook
149-No. 29/No. 28 Redshirt Sophomore Tyler Badgett vs. No. 9/No. 7 First-Year Caleb Henson
157-No. 33/NR Senior Dazjon Casto vs. No. 5/NR Senior Bryce Andonian
165-No. 23/No. 29 Redshirt Senior Holden Heller vs. No. 25/No. 20 Redshirt Sophomore Connor Brady
174-NR/NR Redshirt First-Year Luca Augustine vs. No. 3/No. 3 Redshirt Senior Mekhi Lewis
184-No. 19/No. 15 Redshirt Junior Reece Heller vs. No. 7/No. 5 Redshirt First-Year Hunter Bolen
197-No. 2/No. 1 Redshirt Senior Nino Bonaccorsi vs. No. 22/No. 22 Redshirt Sophomore Andy Smith
Heavweight-No. 5/NR First-Year Dayton Pitzer vs. No. 23/No. 19 Redshirt Sophomore Hunter Catka
The probables feature fantastic matchups, as all but two matchups feature two ranked wrestlers.
The one most people will be looking at is Philippi (8-1) vs. Latona at 133 pounds, as it is the only top ten matchup of the night.
The heavyweight battle features Panthers fan favorite Pitzer (5-1) against Catka. Pitzer wrestled incredibly at the Midlands Championships at the end of December, finishing in second place and quickly earning praise from Panthers fans. Panthers head coach Keith Gavin is planning to redshirt him, but he can wrestle the next three weekends and still stay on that redshirt. Pitzer will wrestle in place of senior Mike Slinger (8-6).
Camacho (12-6) faces off against Flynn to start off the match at 125 pounds. Virginia Tech started No. 27 redshirt first-year Eddie Ventresca most of this season, but with three losses in his last four matches, head coach Tony Robie is likely going to start Flynn.
Casto (5-5) has won his last two matches after a rough start to the 2022-23 season. He comes up against a tough opponent in Andonian, who recently came back from injury and won a major decision against the No. 7 Eddie Scott of NC State.
Matthews (12-1) looks to stay near the top of the rankings with a win over a great foe in Crook. Bonaccorsi, who is also fighting for that top spot comes up against a good opponent in Smith, who took down then No. 6 Isaac Trumble of NC State in a 3-2 decision last weekend.
The Heller brothers both come up against worthy opponents. Reece Heller (14-3) will look to rebound after a difficult loss to then ranked No. 20 Neil Antrassian of Virginia in a 7-3 decision, as he takes on a great opponent in Bolen. Holden Heller (8-4) takes on a worthy foe in Brady, with both wrestlers looking to earn points for their respective team.
Badgett (14-7) will have to work hard to avoid a second straight defeat, after losing to then ranked No. 30 Jarod Verkleeren of Virginia last Friday, as he takes on a top ten wrestler in Henson.
Augustine (10-6) is a surprise at 174 pounds this year for his solid wrestling, winning his past three matches. He faces the best wrestler on the Hokies in Lewis and will have to wrestle the best he has done this season to earn a victory.
It is a tough task, but Gavin said that his team has the ability to take on anyone, even a great opponent in Virginia Tech.
“Our guys are capable,” Gavin said. “I think that we have to have everybody wrestle to their best. There’s not a whole lot of margin of error for us, but if everyone wrestles to their best, we can beat anybody. It’s a very exciting opportunity for the guys and the whole time. They all have their own individual goals, but it’s cool to do something as a team as well.”