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Pitt Prepares for ACC Wrestling Championships on Sunday



Pitt has spent these past two weeks working hard and preparing for the ACC Wrestling Championships on 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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For their preparation, Pitt has kept their usual routine for the most part, as Gavin likes to simplify things instead of complicate them this late in the season. They had some hard practices and lifts last week and then have slowed down this week to wrestle to feel good and stay healthy.

Redshirt first-year Luca Augustine finished with an overall 13-8 duel record and 3-2 in the ACC at 174 pounds, leading Intermat to rank him at No. 33. His most notable win of the year came against then ranked No. 8 North Carolina graduate Clay Lautt 2-1 on tiebreakers on Feb. 3.

Augustine said that he got off to a slow start to the 2022-23 season, but picked it up around Midlands Championships at the end of December. Still, he said that he has a lot to prove this weekend and going forward in his career.

“I think looking back, I want to try to pick up the pace more,” Augustine said. “Just keep up my attack rate more, just create more action and go out guns blazing.”

He currently holds the No. 3 seed going into the ACC Championships. Since Duke doesn’t have a wrestler at that weight, Augustine earns a bye in the First Round and moves on to the Semifinals. There, he faces off against No. 2 NC State redshirt junior Alex Faison. Faison defeated Augustine at Reynolds Coliseum in a close 3-1 sudden victory decision on Feb. 10.

“That was a tough one, I know I could’ve wrestled better,” Augustine said on their first matchup. “Just gonna go out, clear my mind and not stress about it. Just wrestle to have fun because I enjoy it.”

Redshirt junior Colton Camacho finished with a respectable 15-8 overall record and 3-2 in the ACC at 125 pounds. Still, he finished with the No. 4 seed after losing to No. 3 UNC graduate Jack Wagner 10-8 in sudden victory and to No. 1 NC State redshirt junior Jarrett Trombley in an 11-8 decision.

He takes on No. 5 Virginia fifth year Patrick McCormick, who he won a 14-1 major decision against on Jan. 20. He said that he feels confident going into Sunday and that the team should feel the same way with how they’ve wrestled so far this season.

“Just a few technique tweaks and watching out for what they’re going to do,” Camacho said. “Just push my pace, push my style onto them and make them really feel my pressure. Just overwhelm them with my pace and I don’t think they can hang. Just giving up easy points, that’s where it hurt me. As long as I stay in the pace, stay in good position and really just be stingy. I think I can score a lot more than what people think I can on those things.”

Augustine and Camacho face tough circumstances at the ACC Championships on Sunday, if they want to progress to the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Okla. March 16-18.

The NCAA released their distribution of automatic qualifiers last week and they gave the ACC three spots at 174 pounds and only two spots at 125 pounds.

Camacho will face Trombley in the Semifinals if he defeats McCormick, which will be a must win match if he wants to qualify for the NCAA Championships. He said that despite what might look like a difficult challenge, he is confident of his abilities and is proud of his efforts this season, regardless of how it ends.

“Maybe like a little bit added pressure, but I don’t really view it like that,” Camacho said. “Since the beginning of the year, I had visions of winning ACCs no matter what. Just having these close matches gives me more confidence and I’m not really stressed that I can definitely achieve that without a problem. If I wrestle how I should and how I usually do, I can definitely get that automatic bid. Even if I get third, as long as I leave it all out on the line, I’ll be proud of myself.”

Pitt, despite having success as a program for its 10 years in the ACC, has never won the conference Championships as a team. Media members have picked Pitt to finish third out of the six teams at the Championships, behind NC State at No. 1 and Virginia Tech at No. 2.

Gavin is looking forward to his squad competing at the ACC Championships. He has put trust in his wrestlers to work on what is needed and to mentally prepare for their competition once it comes.

“It’s going to be tight, with a lot of these teams,” Gavin said. “You never know what could happen at this tournament. There’s only six teams, so if someone gets upset or something like that, it could go a long way in the team score. The first round is big. We have a lot of big First Round matches that we have to flip the result from earlier in the year. But if we do that, we could win.”

Camacho noticed that the chemistry he and his fellow Panthers have now didn’t exist at the beginning of the year. He witnessed it grow over time, through the ups and downs and of the season, and saw it start to develop after the loss to West Virginia on Jan. 8. Since that time, the team has gotten closer, which Camacho believes will propel them to wrestle at their best at ACC Championships.

“We’re wrestling really good as a team,” Camacho said. “I feel like if every guy does their own job and takes care of business then we could really take this team title home and surprise a lot of people.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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