Forys powers Panthers to 2nd-place finish in Keystone Classic


Dom Forys was one of two Panthers to record a win during Friday's match against Lehigh. | Matt Hawley, Staff Photographer

By Steve Rotstein | Sports Editor

Pitt junior wrestler Dom Forys took home the 133-pound title at the 2016 Keystone Classic Sunday, his third straight championship at the annual open tournament in Philadelphia.

Forys’ tournament win highlighted a successful day overall for the Panthers, who finished in second place out of 12 schools at the competition with 121.5 team points. The Penn State Nittany Lions — last year’s NCAA champions — easily took home the team title in their first year in the Classic, winning eight out of 10 weight classes and finishing with 245 team points.

Pitt sophomore L.J. Bentley ended a four-match losing skid to start the season at 125 pounds, picking up an 11-2 major decision over Rider’s Zach Valcarce in the round of 16. He then dropped a hard-fought 5-4 decision to Drexel’s Zack Fuentes, knocking him into the consolation bracket.

Bentley battled back to win four straight matches, capped off by a 3-2 decision over Fuentes to secure third place.

Forys enjoyed a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed at 133 pounds, then cruised his way to the finals by pinning Drexel’s Anthony Canfora in the quarterfinals and taking out Appalachian State’s Colby Smith with a 17-9 major decision in the semis. He defeated another Drexel wrestler, Kevin Devoy, by an 8-3 decision to claim the 133-pound title.

Pitt’s Robert Lee won three straight decisions at 141 pounds over Darren Ostrander of Virginia Military Institute, Patrick Munn of Penn and A.J. Jaffe of Harvard to advance to the semifinals. There, he dropped a 6-4 decision to the eventual champion, Eastern Michigan’s Kyle Springer.

Lee bounced back with a first-period pin over Irvin Enriquez of Appalachian State, but found himself on the receiving end of a first-period fall by Rider’s Evan Fidelibus and settled for fourth place.

Panthers 149-pounder Mikey Racciato advanced to the round of 16 via a first-round bye as the No. 4 seed, then took a 14-6 major decision over Appalachian State’s Miller Clark followed by a 6-4 decision over Eastern Michigan’s Nick Barber.

There, Racciato ran into the “Zain Train,” Penn State’s No. 1 ranked defending national champion, Zain Retherford. Racciato put up a fight early on, but Retherford pinned him late in the second period on his way to the tournament title. Racciato responded with a pair of wins in the consolation bracket to take home third place.

A pair of Panthers excelled at 157 pounds, as unseeded redshirt freshman Taleb Rahmani and true freshman Jake Wentzel finished in the top five Sunday.

Rahmani took home third place for Pitt in his first action of the 2016-2017 season, recovering from a second-round loss to No. 2 seed Maaziah Bethea of Penn to win seven matches in a row in the consolation bracket. He finished his day with a second-period pin over Eastern Michigan’s J.J. Wolfe to claim third place.

Wentzel, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, won his first three matches by a combined score of 42-0, but dropped a 19-4 technical fall to Penn State’s Jason Nolf in the semifinals and finished in fifth place.

Panthers 165-pounder TeShan Campbell entered the tournament with an undefeated record as the No. 2 seed, and Campbell flashed his dominance early on.

Campbell rolled to the semifinals with back-to-back 16-0 technical falls, then knocked off Appalachian State’s Forrest Przybysz with a 7-4 decision. He then dropped a 9-5 decision to Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph in the finals to finish as the runner-up.

Pitt failed to place any wrestlers in the top six at 174, 184, 197 or 285 pounds, but did enough to hold off Eastern Michigan for second place in the final team standings.

The Panthers will take two weeks off before traveling to Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Dec. 4, for a non-conference showdown with the No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys –– the most successful program in NCAA history. The match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

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