Weekend sports: wrestling opens season, cross country wraps up, with wins

By Trent Leonard | Staff Writer

Pitt’s revenue teams may not have fared so well this weekend, but other teams made up for it with quality showings.

The cross country season wrapped up with top performances from the men’s and women’s teams, while Pitt wrestlers impressed in their season debut. Women’s volleyball collected two more wins to maintain its No. 1 spot in the ACC standings.


The women’s volleyball team finished its last homestand of the season with a shutout victory over Wake Forest Friday and a 3-1 win over Duke Sunday. With the wins, the Panthers (21-6 overall, 14-2 ACC) sit atop the ACC standings, tied with Louisville and NC State.

The Panthers dominated Wake Forest (12-16 overall, 4-12 ACC) in straight sets, outscoring their opponent 28-26, 25-22 and 25-22.

Sophomore Nika Markovic — Pitt’s season leader in kills — led the attack with 17 kills, while junior setter Kamalani Akeo facilitated the offense with 41 assists. First-year Kayla Lund was the only Panther to finish with double digits in two areas, collecting 10 digs and 11 kills.

Pitt also defeated Duke (16-11 overall, 8-8 ACC) in the team’s final home game to extend their win streak to five games. Pitt jumped out to a two-set lead but conceded the third, 27-25.

In the fourth set, the Panthers closed the game in a commanding fashion, outscoring the Blue Devils 25-17. Markovic and Lund, along with sophomore Layne Van Buskirk and redshirt sophomore Stephanie Williams, all chipped in double digit kills for the Panthers. Redshirt junior Angela Seman anchored the defense with 22 digs.

The Panthers will look to continue their ACC dominance when they travel to South Carolina to face the Clemson Tigers Friday.

Cross Country

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Lehigh University Friday to compete at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals for their final meet of the season. The women placed fifth — their best finish at a regional in school history — while the men’s team finished 10th, marking their best finish since 2006.

In the women’s 6k race, the Panthers battled with 27 other teams in the region — including Penn State, Villanova and Princeton. Their historic fifth-place finish was bolstered by junior Gillian Schriever, who came in 16th, and sophomore Miranda Salvo, who finished 24th. Both earned All-Mid-Atlantic Region honors for their top 25 placements.

Also aiding in the women’s effort were sophomore Sam Shields, 37th place, and the trio of senior Amy Kelly, senior Kelly Hayes, and junior Makenzie Zeh, placing 42nd through 44th, respectively.

On the men’s side, the team’s 10th place finish came among 25 other opponents in the 10K race. Senior Ryan Hughes led the Panthers with an 11th-place finish, while senior Aaron Lauer finished 22nd. Both performances earned All-Region honors. The only other Panther to finish in the top 50 was sophomore Nick Wolk, at 44th.


Pitt’s wrestling team kicked off its season at the Eastern Michigan Open on Saturday. The Panthers were competitive across the board, with four wrestlers finishing as individual champions.

The Panthers dominated the light classes, producing winners at three of the low-weight levels. Redshirt freshman Micky Phillippi, junior Robert Lee and redshirt sophomore Taleb Rahmani each won in their weight classes.

Redshirt senior Ryan Solomon made sure Pitt competed at the heavyweight level too, as he emerged as the champion of the 285-pound bracket. Redshirt sophomore Kellan Stout and redshirt freshman Gregg Harvey chipped in third-place finishes in the 197- and 184-pound classes, respectively.

The Panthers head west for their next competition, a dual meet at CSU Bakersfield Friday, beginning at 7 p.m.

Men’s Basketball

It took the Panthers more than 10 minutes into the second half to score a field goal, a disastrous drought that was too much to overcome as the Pitt men’s basketball team dropped its season opener to Navy.

Pitt fell to the Navy Midshipmen 71-62 Friday night in the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Maryland — Navy’s first win against an ACC opponent since 1971 and Pitt’s first opener loss since 1996. The Panthers shot 32 percent in the second half and underperformed at the foul line, shooting 53.3 percent. The shooting woes proved too difficult to overcome.

Read the full recap here.

Women’s Basketball

The Pitt women’s basketball team battled back from an early deficit to open its season with a 66-58 win against Youngstown Friday night.

The Panthers (1-0) and the Penguins (0-1) both had relatively lackluster performances at the Petersen Events Center. Both teams made a little over a third of their field goal attempts and no more than a quarter of their 3-pointer attempts.

Read the full recap here.


Despite a four-touchdown performance from junior Panther running back Darrin Hall, the North Carolina Tar Heels outlasted the Pitt football team at Heinz Field.

In a nationally televised back-and-forth game under the lights, the Panthers (4-6 overall, 2-4 ACC) couldn’t keep up with two fourth-quarter touchdowns from the North Carolina Tar Heels (2-8 overall, 1-6 ACC) en route to a 34-31 loss.

“Nobody wants to lose, just the way we are losing,” junior defensive back Jordan Whitehead said. “We left a lot of plays out there.”

Read the full recap here.

Leave a comment.