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No. 18 Pitt Defeats North Carolina, 21-11, to Take Sole Possession of First Place in the ACC



PITTSBURGH — No. 18 Pitt faced off against North Carolina Friday night at the Petersen Events Center in a battle of two undefeated ACC squads. Solid wrestling from Pitt gave them the 21-11 victory in the duel and puts them alone on top of the conference.

The Panthers (9-2 overall, 3-0 ACC) win their fourth straight duel with this victory. The win for the Panthers also ends a seven match losing streak to the Tar Heels (6-7 overall, 2-1 ACC) that started in 2016.

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Panthers head coach Keith Gavin said that it was a great win against a tough opponent in the Tar Heels. He liked his team’s effort and that he hopes to see his team build on this effort.

“I think we’re coming together at the right time,” Gavin said. “It’s a tough conference where you don’t know what can happen so. It’s a good time to be wrestling well and I feel like we’re doing that.”

No. 2 redshirt senior Nino Bonaccorsi (11-0) started Pitt off in the match at 197 pounds and thoroughly dispatched UNC redshirt junior Max Shaw (11-7) in a 7-2 decision. This makes it two straight seasons he defeated Shaw, as he won a 7-1 decision against him in 2022.

No. 5 first-year Dayton Pitzer (7-1) continued the Panthers’ great start in the heavyweight class. He wrestled well and earned a 6-0 decision over Tar Heels senior Brandon Whitman (9-13) to put the Panthers up 6-0.

Pitt No. 33 redshirt senior Colton Camacho (13-7) fought hard with UNC No. 19 graduate Jack Wagner (19-5) at 125 pounds. Camacho led for most of the match, but Wagner managed to tie it up at 8-8 to force it into sudden victory, where Wagner won the match on a takedown, 10-8.

No. 6 redshirt senior Micky Phillippi (10-1) got the Panthers back on track at 133 pounds, winning an 8-2 decision over Tar Heels redshirt first-year Jace Palmer (12-10).

Pitt No. 3 redshirt senior Cole Matthews (14-1) and UNC No. 13 redshirt first-year Lachlan McNeil (18-5) battled in the biggest match of the night at 141 pounds. Matthews used a takedown and an escape to win a 3-2 decision over McNeil and to keep the momentum with Pitt.

Panthers No. 29 Tyler Badgett (15-8) won his first ACC duel of the season against Tar Heels first-year Jayden Scott (14-6) at 149 pounds. He held Scott down for most of the second period to earn riding time and an escape in the third period for a 2-0 decision.

Pitt first-year Jared Keslar (11-3) stood no chance against North Carolina No. 3 graduate Austin O’Connor (14-0) at 157 pounds. O’Connor used multiple takedowns to win a 24-8 technical fall, cutting the Pitt lead to seven at 15-8.

No. 23 redshirt senior Holden Heller (10-4) easily handled Tar Heels redshirt senior Joey Mazzara (13-8) in a 12-5 decision at 165 pounds to help the Panthers get closer to victory.

Pitt redshirt first-year Luca Augustine (11-7) faced a tough challenge in UNC No. 8 graduate Clay Lautt (18-5) at 174 pounds. Neither managed to score any points besides each making an escape and so they headed to sudden victory. They again failed to score, meaning they headed to tiebreakers.

Augustine got an easy escape to start off and held off attacks from Lautt to earn the upset in a 2-1 decision and essentially clinched the duel victory for the Panthers.

Augustine said that he looked for the offense from Lautt the whole time and that he will need to work on his game when he likely faces off against Lautt in the ACC Championships in March

“In the beginning, I felt the hand fight,” Augustine said on his match with Lautt. “I felt strong in the hand fight, I felt good. Then, as time kind of went on, he’s kind of loosened up a little bit, I felt a little bit of his shots coming on. I didn’t really have a comfortable shot, wasn’t really comfortable in my offense yet, so I couldn’t really find too many shots there, if any at all. I did have that quick escape, which helped and that’s the main reason I won that match there.”

Panthers No. 18 redshirt junior Reece Heller (15-4) finished the match with a battle against Tar Heels No. 13 junior Gavin Kane (19-4) at 184 pounds. Both wrestlers competed well, but Kane used two takedowns, an escape plus riding time to win a 6-3 decision.

Pitt finishes this weekend off with a match against No. 3 Iowa State Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at Fitzgerald Field House.

Augustine believes that his teammates are wrestling at their best right now and just need to keep the momentum going the rest of the year.

“We’re wrestling really good right now,” Augustine said. “We’re wrestling with a lot of confidence and I love the fight. I think we just need to keep this energy going. We had some tough losses at the beginning of the season, but we bounced right back and we just need to keep this energy up and we can beat anybody.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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1 year ago

Great job keep up the great work guys.Continue to improve each match only comes from hard work and extra effort

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