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Pitt Wrestling

Pitt Finishes Third at ACC Wrestling Championships



RALEIGH, N.C. — Pitt finished in third place at the 2023 Wrestling Championships at Reynolds Coliseum Sunday. Two Pitt wrestlers won a title, one finished in second, three won third place matches and six wrestlers earned automatic qualifying spots in their weight classes.

The Panthers finished with a total of 60.0 points at the Wrestling Championships. NC State won the Championships with 101.5 points and Virginia Tech finished in second place with 78.0 points. Behind Pitt came North Carolina in fourth place with 37.0 points, Virginia in fifth place with 35.0 points and Duke in last place with 14.0 points. This is the second straight year the Panthers have finished in third place at the ACC Championships.

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Pittsburgh Wrestling Club

197 Pounds

No. 1 Pitt redshirt senior Nino Bonaccorsi (16-0) earned a First Round bye and wrestled against No. 4 Virginia graduate Michael Battista in the Semifinals.

He controlled the match and defeated Battista in a 12-3 major decision to move onto the Final for the fourth time and earning himself his fifth straight appearance at the NCAA Championships.

Bonaccorsi faced off against No. 3 NC State sophomore Isaac Trumble in the Final. Bonaccorsi scored two points off an escape and a locked hands violation, which he used to win a 2-1 decision over Trumble.

The victory serves as Bonaccorsi’s third straight ACC title, the longest streak for a Pitt wrestler in the conference. It is also the second victory for Bonaccorsi over Trumble this season and the second straight time he has defeated him for an ACC title.

Bonaccorsi said after the match that he felt great winning another title in such a competitive conference like the ACC. He also congratulated Trumble on his tenacity as a wrestler and how Trumble has challenged him to improve as wrestler going forward to compete at NCAA Championships.

“He’s a tough kid,” Bonaccorsi said. “Really respect him a lot. He’s a tough competitor. Game plan was just to score points. Just go out there and score points. That’s my game plan for everyone. Just try to score as many point as possible. Obviously, tonight was not super high scoring. Stuff I definitely have to working to get my ties and my shots more a little bit. With such a tough guy like him it’s great to have such close matches. They all get me ready for the end of the season. Really grateful for him as an opponent.”

141 Pounds

No. 1 redshirt senior Cole Matthews (19-1) earned a First Round bye and wrestled No. 4 Virginia Tech first-year Tom Crook in the Semifinals. He used two takedowns and an escape to defeat Crook in a 6-3 decision and move on to the Final.

Matthews battled with No. 2 sophomore Ryan Jack in the Final for the second straight season. Matthews built up riding time in the second period and won the Final in a 2-1 decision because of it, while also fending off shots from Jack throughout.

The win is the second straight ACC title for Matthews and second consecutive defeating Jack. He is now 4-0 against Jack in the past two season as well.

“We both like to roll around so, it can get a little scary when you start wrestling a guy like Ryan [Jack] does,” Matthews said on his opponent. “I try to keep my composure. Keep my hands down and be ready for whatever attack he brings.”

133 Pounds 

No. 1 Pitt redshirt senior Micky Phillippi (13-3) earned a First Round bye and faced off against No. 5 Virginia sophomore Marlon Yarbrough in the Semifinals.

Phillippi defeated Yarbrough in a 5-2 decision off two takedowns and an escape to move onto the Final. With the win, Phillippi became the second Panther to clinch an automatic qualifier spot at the NCAA Championships, making it his fifth time doing so.

Phillippi and No. 3 NC State redshirt sophomore Kai Orine battled in the Final closely throughout and only scored one point after three periods, forcing overtime. Orine defeated Phillippi with a brilliant takedown for a 3-1 sudden victory, giving him the ACC Title.

The loss for Phillippi makes it three straight years he finished as a runner up and also makes him a five-time consecutive finalist at 133 pounds, as he won titles in 2019 and 2020. The loss is also the second this season for Phillippi against Orine, as he lost 3-1 on tiebreakers on Feb. 10.

125 Pounds 

No. 4 redshirt junior Colton Camacho (18-9) won a 11-2 major decision over No. 5 Virginia fifth year Patrick McCormick in the First Round.

He needed to win his matchup with No. 1 NC State redshirt junior Jarrett Trombley in the ACC Semifinals to earn a spot in the finals. Camacho kept it close with Trombley early on, but Trombley broke the deadlock at 3-3 in the second period with a reversal and four back points, en route to a 9-5 decision.

The loss meant that he also missed out on a NCAA automatic qualifier spot, as the NCAA only allotted two for the conference at his weight class.

Despite missing out on the finals and an automatic bid, Camacho forged on and kept on wrestling.

He easily handled No. 6 Duke first-year Ethan Grimminger in the Consolation Semifinals, winning a 17-3 major decision.

Camacho then faced No. 3 North Carolina graduate Jack Wagner in the Third Place match. Both wrestlers found themselves deadlocked at 1-1 in the third period, until Camacho made an important takedown. Wagner got an escape late and threatened to score, but Camacho held on for the Third Place victory in a 3-2 decision.

165 Pounds

No. 1 redshirt senior Holden Heller (14-6) earned a First Round bye and wrestled No. 4 Virginia Tech redshirt sophomore Connor Brady in the Semifinals.

Holden Heller had trouble dealing with Brady the entire match and lost a in a 7-5 decision. That loss was the first for Holden Heller in the ACC this season.

Moving on to the Consolation semifinals, Holden Heller defeated No. 6 Duke redshirt senior Gabe Dinette in a close 5-4 decision.

Holden Heller then faced off against No. 3 NC State first-year Matthew Singleton in the Third Place Match. Holden Heller started out with an 8-1 lead after the first period, thanks to two takedowns and four back points.

Singleton came back with two back points and then four more back points to cut the lead to just 8-7 after two periods. Holden Heller managed to stay with it and got one more takedown in the third period to win Third Place on a 10-7 decision.

Winning Third Place for Holden Heller meant he earned an automatic NCAA qualifier spot.

174 Pounds 

No. 3 Pitt redshirt first-year Luca Augustine earned a First Round bye after Duke did not put anyone at 174 pounds.

He wrestled No. 2 NC State redshirt junior Alex Faison in the Semifinals. Like in their first matchup, Faison took a close win, in a 3-2 decision over Augustine. A Faison takedown of Augustine in the second period proved to be the difference in the match in the end.

Augustine defeated No. 4 UNC redshirt senior Michael Goldfeder in a 4-0 decision in the Consolation Semifinals. He then beat No. 5 Virginia fifth year Victor Marcelli in the Third Place match in a 3-1 decision with a takedown and an escape, clinching the last automatic qualifier spot for the NCAA Championships.

Pitt head coach Keith Gavin spoke on Augustine’s development throughout the season. He said that he expected him to do as well as he has done this season and also to grow at the NCAA Championships next week.

“Luca’s [Augustine] gonna work really hard. It’s going to be a really bad draw for somebody because he’s going to bring it. Long-term speaking it’s good for his development to get there [NCAAs] as a freshman. That’s what we expect of him to be there right now.”

184 Pounds 

No. 5 Pitt redshirt junior Reece Heller won a 12-3 major decision over No. 4 Virginia graduate Neil Antrassian in the First Round. Reece Heller got revenge on Antrassian, who he lost to in a 7-3 decision on Jan. 20. 

Reece Heller didn’t progress to the Final, as he stood no chance against No. 1 NC State redshirt junior Trent Hidlay, losing in a 23-5 technical fall decision in the Semifinals.

He then majored No. 6 Duke junior Jack Wimmer, 12-0 in the Consolation Semifinals. This put him in the Third Place Match and also officially earned him one of the five automatic qualifying spots at his weight class for the NCAA Championships.

Wrestling against No. 2 Virginia Tech first-year Hunter Bolen in the Third Place match, he fell behind 4-2 after two periods. Reece Heller then escaped and got a takedown to take a late 5-4 lead. Bolen managed to counter this, with a reversal just before the buzzer to win Third Place, 7-5.

Heavyweight (285)

No. 4 Pitt senior Mike Slinger (9-9) earned a 3-1 sudden victory over No. 5 UNC senior Brandon Whitman in the First Round, for his first victory since Jan. 20. 

Slinger moved on to the Semifinals to take on No. 1 Duke senior Jonah Niesenbaum. Both wrestlers kept it close, but a Niesenbaum takedown proved the difference, as he defeated Slinger, 3-2 for the second time in three weekends.

No. 6 Virginia senior Ethan Weatherspoon made three takedowns en route to a 7-4 decision over Slinger in the Consolation Semifinals. This loss ended Slinger’s season, as there are only three automatic qualifier spots in his weight class, and his career at Pitt.

149 Pounds 

No. 4 Pitt redshirt sophomore Tyler Badgett (16-12) started the day with a disappointing loss No. 5 North Carolina graduate Zach Sherman in a  7-2 decision in the First Round.

Badgett wrestled No. 3 Virginia graduate Jarod Verkleeren in the Consolations Semifinals. He lost a close, 3-2 decision to Verkeleeren, ending his day.

He missed his opportunity to earn an automatic qualifier spot for NCAA Championships, as there are only three for his weight class.

157 Pounds 

No. 4 senior Dazjon Casto also had a day to forget on the match at the ACC Championships. He lost a 5-4 decision after riding time to No. 5 Virginia graduate Jake Keating in the First Round. Keating got revenge on Casto, after Casto defeated him in a 14-8 decision on Jan. 20. 

Casto then kept it close with No. 3 NC State sophomore Ed Scott in the Consolation Semifinals, compared to his 19-3 technical fall loss against him on Feb. 10.   . Scott stayed on the defensive and held Casto scoreless, and ended up winning a 4-0 decision.

The loss ended Casto’s day and also his chance at an automatic NCAA qualifier spot, as there are only three at his weight class, therefore, ending his Pitt career with a career 6-9 record in 2022-23.

Pitt will bring at least six wrestlers to the NCAA Wrestling Championships to Tulsa, Okla. March 16-18, with a few having a chance to win an individual National Title since Gavin did it at Pitt at 174 pounds in 2008.

Here are the Panthers who earned automatic qualifying spots on Sunday.

133: Redshirt senior Micky Phillippi

141: Redshirt senior Cole Matthews

165: Redshirt senior Holden Heler

174: Redshirt first-year Luca Augustine

184: Redshirt junior Reece Heller

197: Redshirt senior Nino Bonaccorsi.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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