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ACC Wrestling Championship Brackets Reveal Four No. 1 Pitt Wrestlers

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Pitt wrestling holden Heller

The ACC released their Wrestling Championships Brackets Tuesday, revealing who will wrestle who this upcoming Sunday, March 5 at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.

The Panthers finished the regular season with a duel record of 10-4 overall and 4-1 in the ACC. Their ACC record won them a share of the regular season title for the first time under head coach Keith Gavin and the first since the Panthers won it outright in 2013-14.

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Pitt sends 10 wrestlers to the ACC Championships in hopes of winning their first ever ACC Tournament Title.

Four Panthers in redshirt seniors, Micky Phillippi at 133 pounds, Cole Matthews at 141 pounds, Holden Heller at 165 pounds and Nino Bonaccorsi at 197 pounds received No. 1 seeds. Matthews, Holden Heller and Bonaccorsi won all five matches in ACC play, while Phillippi only lost once.

Redshirt first-year Luca Augustine received a No. 3 bid for winning three of his five matches this season at 174 pounds. Redshirt junior Colton Camacho at 125 pounds, redshirt sophomore Tyler Badgett at 149 pounds, and seniors in Dazjon Casto at 157 pounds and Jake Slinger in the heavyweight class all received No. 4 seeds. Redshirt junior Reece Heller received a No. 5 seed, the lowest for any Panther.

The NCAA last week also released their allocations for automatic qualifiers for each weight class for the ACC. 125 pounds has two qualifiers, 133, 149, 157, 165, 174 and 285 pounds have three qualifiers each, 141 and 197 pounds have four qualifiers each and 184 pounds has five automatic qualifiers.

This means that the seeding for different brackets has a different significance for each wrestler. Reece Heller is a No. 5 seed, all he has to do is not finish in last place and he will move on to the NCAA Championships. Augustine, who is a No. 3 seed, needs at least a third place finish to make it to the NCAA Championships.

Bonaccorsi, Matthews, Phillippi are definite locks to contend for ACC titles and to make it to the NCAA Championships. Holden Heller should also join them with a favorable seed and his dominance against those in his weight class this season.

Camacho has the hardest draw of any Pitt wrestler with only two automatic qualifiers at 125 pounds, as he needs to defeat No. 1 NC State redshirt junior Jarrett Trombley, who will be in his home arena, in the semifinals.  Camacho lost to Trombley in an 11-8 decision on Feb. 10.

Slinger has a decent shot to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships. He takes on No. 5 UNC senior Brandon Whitman in the first round and if he wins, faces off against No. 1 Duke senior Jonah Niesenbaum. Slinger wrestled Niesenbaum on Feb. 18, losing in a 5-3 decision.

Badgett will likely need to win a third place match to make it to the NCAA Championships. If Badgett wins his first round matchup, he takes on No. 1 Virginia Tech first-year Caleb Henson, who defeated him in a 14-2 major decision on Jan. 27. A rematch with No. 3 Virginia graduate Jarod Verkleeren, who he lost a close 5-3 decision to on Jan. 20, should decide if his season goes forward or not.

Casto faces the greatest odds to make a final spot, as he faces off against No. 1 North Carolina graduate Austin O’Connor in the semifinals if he makes it there. Casto did upset O’Connor at the 2022 NCAA Championships, but hasn’t shown this season the dominance he has in past years. If there’s a time for Casto to show his strengths as a wrestler, his first and last ACC Championships is the place to do it.

The ACC Wrestling Championships begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 5. Semifinals start at 1 p.m. and then consolations are at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. The ACC Network will televise the finals at 7 p.m.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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