Pitt wrestling is still about two months away from their first duel, but the individual wrestlers are already receiving preseason plaudits, with Intermat ranking nine of them.
The Panthers finished with an overall record of 10-4, and 4-1 in the ACC, earring a share of the conference title last season. Six wrestlers made it to the NCAA Championships, where Nino Bonaccorsi finished with a perfect season, winning the National Title at 197 pounds. Head coach Keith Gavin heads into his seventh season at the helm, with the promise of more National Champions in the future.
Redshirt senior Colton Camacho comes in at No. 32 in the first Intermat rankings at 125 pounds. Camacho finished 18-9 overall, 3-2 in ACC duels and third at the ACC Championships. With only two automatic qualifiers at his weight class, Camacho did not make it to the NCAA Championships, but he’ll have a great chance this season to do so.
No. 4 Eddie Ventresca of Virginia Tech and No. 12 Jakob Camacho, no relation, of NC State, rank higher than Camacho at 125 pounds. ‘
Redshirt first-year Vinnie Santaniello comes into his first season wrestling for Pitt at 133 pounds and Intermat thought highly enough of him to place him at No. 33. Santaniello also has a brother on the team, Anthony Santaniello, who decommitted from Oklahoma and joined Pitt in the spring.
Santaniello didn’t wrestle at all last season and has some great competition in the conference with No. 4 Sam Latona of Virginia Tech and reigning ACC Champion No. 5 Kai Orine of NC State, who he’ll take on this season.
Redshirt senior Cole Matthews starts his final season as a Panther at No. 8 at 141 pounds. Matthews only had one loss in the regular season last year, but had a disappointing NCAA Championships, going 2-2 and failing to place. He is one of the best wrestlers in the country, particularly when it comes to his defense, but if he wants to finish out on top, he’ll need to become a better attacker.
No. 4 Lachlan McNeil of North Carolina, who Matthews defeated in a 3-2 decision, No. 10 Ryan Jack of NC State, who Matthews defeated twice in the regular season and the ACC Title match, as well as No. 23 Jack Gioffre of Virginia round out the 141 pound weight class for the conference.
Redshirt first-year Jared Keslar comes into his first full season at 157 pounds at No. 28. Keslar finished with an 11-4 overall record and 1-2 record for Pitt in 2022-23, wrestling twice in big time duel matches against then No. 1 Austin O’Connor of UNC, who finished undefeated and won the National Title, and then No. 27 Jacob Kraiser of Iowa State in back-to-back days.
He’ll have some great competition in his weight class, with No. 5 Ed Scott of NC State and No. 6 Bryce Andonian of Virginia Tech to take on in ACC play.
Redshirt senior Holden Heller comes in at No. 13 at 165 pounds after a solid first season at Pitt in 2022-23, finishing 16-8 overall, 5-0 in the ACC duels and an appearance at the NCAA Championships. This season will serve as his sixth collegiately and one last chance to have a great finish. He is the highest ranked ACC wrestler in his class, with No. 18 Connor Brady of Virginia Tech, who Holden Heller defeated in a 2-0 decision, and No. 25 Nick Hamilton of Virginia joining him.
Redshirt sophomore Luca Augustine made his first appearance at the NCAA Championships in his first full season competing with the program in 2022-23. He finished 15-11 and third at the ACC Championships and has established himself in the starting lineup for the next three seasons, coming in at No. 24 at 174 pounds.
He’ll have some of the best wrestlers in the country to compete against in his weight class in the ACC. This includes No. 3 Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech, No. 9 Justin McCoy of Virginia and No. 22 Alex Faison of NC State.
Redshirt senior Reece Heller, brother of Holden Heller, received a No. 12 ranking from Intermat in the 184-pound weight class. He made it to the NCAA Championships for the first time last season and finished with a 19-10 record. Reece Heller will face No. 8 Gavin Kane of UNC, who he lost to last season, along with No. 23 Sam Fisher of Virginia Tech, No. 28 Dylan Fishback of Virginia Tech and No. 29 Hadyn Danals of Virginia in ACC duels.
Redshirt first-year Mac Stout starts the 2023-24 season as the No. 18 wrestler at 197 pounds. He’ll have a big task taking over Bonaccorsi’s weight class and also living up to his brother, Kellen Stout, who had great success at Pitt from 2017-20. Stout finished with a 8-4 overall record and 4-2 for Pitt last season.
He’ll have to face off against No. 5 Trent Hidlay of NC State, No. 16 Andy Smith of Virginia Tech and No. 19 Max Shaw of North Carolina in conference competition.
Fan favorite in redshirt first-year Dayton Pitzer is the No. 9 ranked Intermat wrestler in the heavyweight class. Pitzer had a great run at the Midlands Championships last season, finishing as runner-up, while seeing action in some ACC matchups before Gavin redshirted him.
Pitzer has a chance to be a National Title contender every season his entire career, especially with a year of experience and a 7-3 record. He’ll take on No. 8 Owen Trephan of NC State, who Pitzer lost to 3-1 in sudden victory, and No. 16 Hunter Catka of Virginia Tech, who Pitzer defeated in a 5-3 decision, in the ACC duels this season.
No schedule is out for Pitt wrestling yet, but they are set to face NC State, Virginia Tech and Virginia at home and North Carolina and Duke on the road for ACC duels. They also will compete in the Collegiate Duels in Nashville, Tenn. from Dec. 18-19 that features some great opponents.