Bonaccorsi remains unbeaten, but No. 17 Pitt wrestling falls at No. 6 N.C. State
RALEIGH, N.C. – When Pitt heavyweight Dayton Pitzer hit the mat on a takedown from by N.C. State’s Owen Trephan, it gave the Wolfpack a sudden victory and put them ahead by eight points with just two matches left to wrestle in their dual against the visiting Panthers.
That meant Pitt would have to win its next two matches by major decisions or technical falls to have a chance at winning the dual. And that did not happen.
No. 17 Pitt fell to No. 6 N.C. State 23-9 Friday night in a packed and loud Reynolds Coliseum.
The loss for Pitt means that it is now tied atop the ACC standings with N.C. State with a 3-1 record in conference duals. Had the Panthers won in Raleigh, they would’ve clinched at least a share of the ACC crown for the first time since 2014.
With Friday’s result, any celebrations will be put on hold.
“As far as the dual goes, we lost some key bouts, some of the close ones that we knew were going to be close coming in, and you know, they won them and we didn’t,” Pitt head coach Keith Gavin said. “You don’t like losing… But I told the guys, it’s all feedback, and you got to be intentional about using it to get better.”
Pitt jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the dual by getting a win in one of the most anticipated bouts of the night, with No. 3 Cole Matthews getting a 3-2 decision over No. 4 Ryan Jack of the Wolfpack in the 141-weight class.
Matthews got a takedown in the first period and remained on top in scoring after Jack notched two escapes and Matthews got one in the third period. It’s Matthews’ second time beating Jack in his career, and improves the senior from Greenville, Pennsylvania’s record to 16-1 on the year.
Gavin pointed to Matthews’ ability to get an early takedown as a reason why he won the match, and wants to see more eager offense from his team.
“When you go out and get a first period takedown, a lot of our guys are going to be very difficult to beat,” Gavin said. “We got to get out on our offense early… Trust that you can do it in the first period, like Cole did. You get that first period takedown, now the (opponent) has to come to you.”
After sitting out duals against Iowa State and North Carolina with an injury, Dazjon Casto returned to the lineup for Pitt in the 157-pound bout, but was outmatched against No. 17 Ed Scott of the Wolfpack. Scott earned a technical fall victory in the third period with 19-3 score, bringing the crowd inside Reynolds to its feet as he tossed Casto around the mat in a dominant performance.
With Tyler Badgett’s 3-0 loss in the 149-pound bout, Holden Heller’s 4-2 victory in the 165-pound clash, Luca Augustine’s narrow 3-1 extra period defeat in the 174-pound battle, and Reece Heller’s 9-5 loss to No. 3 Trent Hidlay in the 184-class, Pitt trailed N.C. State 14-6 on the scoreboard heading into Nino Bonaccorsi’s match. The second top-10 meeting of the night pitted the nation’s No. 1 in the 197-pound class, Bonaccorsi, against No. 8 Isaac Trumble.
This was the most competitive match of the night and lasted six periods. N.C. State’s Trumble had a 1-0 lead in the third period, but he was penalized a point for an illegal move, dropping Bonaccorsi on his head as the Panther went for a shot.
From the fall, Bonaccorsi said he’s good.
“My neck is a little sore and I got a little headache,” he said. “Should be OK.”
Bonaccorsi shook off the hard drop to the mat and secured a takedown, but Trumble notched a reversal with under six seconds left to push the bout into extra periods. In the third extra period, Bonaccorsi sealed the win with an escape and a takedown to win 6-4, keeping his unbeaten mark on the season intact at 13-0.
“It was crazy. He’s obviously a very tough wrestler, so he’s hard to score points on. He’s very stingy defensively,” Bonaccorsi said. “What it came down to is just trying to stay persistent. I trust my offense, so I knew I was going to get one eventually… Just got to stay the course.”
Trumble had beaten Bonaccorsi 2-0 last season.
Bonaccorsi is enjoying his senior campaign and is thankful for the chance to wrestle after all the ups and downs of the pandemic.
“It’s been really great,” Bonaccorsi said. “I’m grateful to just be wrestling with such a special team again. Just comes down to the love of the sport. My only goal is to wrestle as hard as I can, and when I walk off the mat, that was all I had.”
Following Pitzer’s loss in the heavyweight clash, Colton Camacho lost in the 125-pound bout by a score of 11-8, and sixth-ranked Micky Phillippi was upset by N.C. State’s No. 20 Kai Orine in the 133-pound battle. It was just the second loss of the season for the seventh-year veteran.
“That last one sticks out, 133. Like, (Phillippi) started getting to that guy when he had to, but in the first period, not a whole lot happened,” Gavin said.
Pitt has one regular season dual left, hosting Duke next Saturday. And then the Panthers will be back in Raleigh for the ACC Championships on March 5.
“It’s obviously a tough loss tonight. So, I think getting our morale back, our spirits back up, heading into Duke,” Bonaccorsi said. “Just to stick to what we’ve been doing. We have a great team; we’ve made great improvements over the course of the season. It’s just another opportunity to wrestle and showcase our skills.”