The No. 23 Pitt wrestling team got back on the winning track Sunday afternoon with a 23-15 dual meet victory at the Fitzgerald Field House over the rival West Virginia Mountaineers.
The Panthers (4-2) rebounded from a shutout loss against the No. 1 Oklahoma State Cowboys last Sunday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to keep the now 0-4 Mountaineers winless. It was the 62nd meeting between the longtime rivals with Pitt leading the all-time series 36-24-2.
Panthers sophomore 125-pounder LJ Bentley got things started with his first dual meet victory of the season against WVU’s Devin Brown. Bentley rolled to a 12-3 major decision to improve his overall record to 6-6 on the year.
The Mountaineers came back with a pair wins at 133- and 141-pound levels to take a 6-4 lead. Cory Stainbrook won a 7-3 decision over Pitt junior Ben Ross, who bumped up from 125 pounds to fill in for No. 8 Dom Forys at 133. Joe Wheeling then defeated Panthers sophomore Robert Lee, 3-2, at 141 pounds.
Lee falls to 4-5 on the year, while Ross’s record drops to 2-4.
Pitt then responded with four straight wins to take control of the meet, starting with senior Mikey Racciato’s 11-8 win over Christian Monserrat at 149 pounds. Redshirt freshman Taleb Rahmani then continued his breakout season for the Panthers with a first-period fall over WVU’s Dayton Garrett in just 55 seconds.
Racciato moves to 6-5 for the season, while Rahmani improved his record to 10-2.
TeShan Campbell, the No. 11 165-pounder in the country, kept Pitt’s momentum going with a 4-1 decision over Ryan Lopez to improve to 8-2. True freshman Austin Bell then followed with a 9-0 major decision over Ty Millward at 174 pounds to give the Panthers a 20-6 lead.
The Mountaineers won back-to-back matches at 184 and 197 pounds to cut the lead to 20-15, giving themselves a chance going into the final match. Parker VonEgidy won a 10-7 decision over Pitt sophomore Cameron Jacobson at 184, then Jacob Smith pinned Panthers sophomore Jacob Parker two minutes into the first period at 197.
Having drawn within five points, WVU needed a fall or technical fall in the heavyweight finale to complete the comeback. But Pitt senior John Rizzo battled to a 2-1 overtime victory over Brandon Ngati to clinch the 23-15 victory for the Panthers.
Pitt will now have about two and a half weeks off until returning to action at the Midlands Championships Dec. 29-30 in Evanston, Illinois.