Wrestling: Pitt wins third-straight Eastern Wrestling League title

Dustin Gabler | February 19, 2012    

The victory lights — seen rarely for Pitt fans during football season — glowed from the top… The victory lights — seen rarely for Pitt fans during football season — glowed from the top of the Cathedral of Learning for the wrestling team this weekend.

The No. 9 Pitt wrestling team won its third straight Eastern Wrestling League championship with its win over No. 20 Edinboro on Friday.

The 26-10 victory also marked the Panthers’ 18th straight dual victory.

“Winning a third EWL title is a great feeling,” Pitt’s Tyler Nauman said. “I never thought I would say my college wrestling team won three straight conference titles. It means a great deal to me and shows me I helped bring that to Pitt.”

His teammate, sophomore Shelton Mack, said he’s faced high expectations for himself and the team since he arrived at Pitt.

“Winning the EWL again means a lot to everyone,” Mack said. “It was our goal since the beginning of the season. It’s great to see things falling into place.”

Pitt’s No. 16 Anthony Zanetta bounced back from a loss in his last match to start the Panthers out strong at 125 pounds against Edinboro’s Kory Mines. Zanetta’s 9-0 major decision put four points on the team score.

Zanetta’s loss last week marked his first in a dual meet, and he used the loss to propel himself to work harder.

“I used that loss as motivation and to realize I have to raise my intensity level up when I wrestle,” Zanetta said.

No. 24 Mack kept the momentum rolling for the Panthers at 133 pounds with an upset over Edinboro’s seventh-ranked A.J. Schopp. Mack scored a first period takedown that he held on to for the win.

Mack said he knew that his match could be a key point for the Panthers, and it propelled the team on to the win.

“It meant a lot to start the match like that for the team,” Mack said. “It helped to get the team fired up and motivated us to get the job done.”

At 141 pounds, Pitt freshman Travis Shaffer lost to No. 18 Mitchell Port 4-2 at 141 pounds, putting Edinboro on the board to make the score 7-3.

In the next five weight classes, Pitt showed its dominance in the middle classes over the Fighting Scots.

At 149 pounds, No. 15 Nauman turned in the second upset victory of the night for the Panthers with a 7-4 win over No. 6 Dave Habat. The two wrestlers have met four times this season with each athlete winning once.

Nauman drew on some of his previous experiences with Habat, but said he was looking to wrestle his own match.

“I felt if I looked into my other matches too much then you don’t wrestle your match,” Nauman said. “I wanted to wrestle my match and not worry so much about what he does.”

A senior, Nauman wrestled his last match at the Fitzgerald Field House on Friday. His senior class only lost at home once during its four years. The team said it used the crowd as fuel for another home victory.

“The crowd definitely played a factor,” said Nauman. “Senior night, last match here and we wanted it. I think that showed in our performance tonight.”

Donnie Tasser beat Casey Fuller 6-0 at 157 pounds, then Tyler Wilps cruised to a 14-4 victory over Jesse Swink at 165 pounds. Wilps tallied six takedowns in a dominating performance for the sophomore.

At 174 pounds, No. 20 Ethan Headlee pinned Chris Hrunka at 1:51. The senior’s pin was his 30th fall of his career and made the score at 23-3 — officially a victory for Pitt. His 30th fall moved him to sixth place on the career pins list.

Pitt’s No. 32 Andy Vaughan got the last win of the night at 184 pounds over No. 28 Vic Avery 9-3.

At 197 pounds, No. 5 Matt Wilps faced a challenge in Edinboro’s top-ranked Chris Honeycutt. Honeycutt — powered by an early takedown — beat Wilps 11-5.

No. 23 Ernest James dominated Pitt’s Joel Yahner 10-1 at 285 pounds for a major decision for the Fighting Scots. James’ victory brought the final score to 26-10.

Head coach Rande Stottlemyer said he was proud of the team effort by his Panthers.

“This was a total team effort,” Stottlemyer said. “I don’t think you could have scripted it any better.”

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