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Weekend Sports: Wrestling racks up three wins

Junior+Demetrius+Thomas%2C+pictured+here+against+North+Carolina+on+Feb.+2%2C+won+his+match+against+Deonte+Wilson+of+NC+State+and+helped+Pitt+wrestling+break+their+3-match+losing+streak.+
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Weekend Sports: Wrestling racks up three wins

Junior Demetrius Thomas, pictured here against North Carolina on Feb. 2, won his match against Deonte Wilson of NC State and helped Pitt wrestling break their 3-match losing streak.

Junior Demetrius Thomas, pictured here against North Carolina on Feb. 2, won his match against Deonte Wilson of NC State and helped Pitt wrestling break their 3-match losing streak.

Bader Abdulmajeed | Staff Photographer

Junior Demetrius Thomas, pictured here against North Carolina on Feb. 2, won his match against Deonte Wilson of NC State and helped Pitt wrestling break their 3-match losing streak.

Bader Abdulmajeed | Staff Photographer

Bader Abdulmajeed | Staff Photographer

Junior Demetrius Thomas, pictured here against North Carolina on Feb. 2, won his match against Deonte Wilson of NC State and helped Pitt wrestling break their 3-match losing streak.

By Griffin Floyd, Staff Writer

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After a hiatus from the win column, Pitt’s wrestling team redeemed itself over the weekend with an impressive three-win showing on the road, including a thrilling upset over a ranked opponent. Pitt athletics didn’t fare well elsewhere, notching losses in tennis, softball and gymnastics.

Wrestling

After a disheartening three-match losing streak, Pitt’s No. 16 wrestling team rebounded nicely by sweeping a three-match road trip over the weekend, highlighted by an upset win over a ranked NC State team.

Pitt started the gauntlet on Saturday with a doubleheader against Gardner Webb and Davidson, dominating by margins of 38-4 and 31-6, respectively. Against Gardner Webb, first-year Nino Bonaccorsi opened with a 6-0 victory in the 184-pound class and Pitt never looked back from there, leading the entire way and losing just one of 10 decisions.

It was more of the same versus Davidson, with Pitt winning eight of 10 decisions en route to a comfortable team win. Sophomore Jake Cherry and senior Robert Lee were especially dominant, recording 10-2 and 10-1 wins at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively.

Facing off against the No. 8 NC State Wolfpack Sunday, the Panthers recorded a gutsy 18-16 ACC victory, winning the final four matches for a comeback victory.

Bonaccorsi, ranked No. 13 nationally at 184 pounds, pulled off a tremendous upset over No. 3 Nick Reenan, shutting him out 7-0 while the Panthers were in do-or-die mode. Fittingly, it was heavyweight Demetrius Thomas who put the match on ice for the Panthers, a week after losing in sudden death overtime in the deciding match against UNC. Thomas handily dispatched his opponent in a 17-5 major decision to ensure the crucial win for Pitt.

The Panthers are now 11-3 on the season and picked up their first conference win against the Wolfpack. Their next match comes Feb. 15 against the Duke Blue Devils at the Fitzgerald Field House.

Track

The men’s and women’s track teams split into two this weekend, sending the distance-running tandem of junior Nick Wolk, junior Sam Shields and graduate student Kelly Hayes to Washington University’s Husky Classic for the 5,000m run. But with inclement weather out west, the 5,000m competition was cancelled, leaving the trio without a race for the weekend.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team traveled to Kent State for the Doug Raymond National Qualifier on Saturday. First-year sprinter Eddita Pessima led the Panthers with a blazing second place finish in the 60m hurdles — her time of 8.44 seconds was the fifth fastest in school history. Junior Aysha Muhammad finished just behind her in 8.53 seconds, missing the podium at fourth place.

With the conclusion of the regular season, Pitt now looks to the ACC Championships, which begin Feb. 21.

Softball

The women’s softball team had a loaded slate in its first action in 2019, traveling to Charleston, South Carolina, for the three-day Cougar Classic. It was a rough session overall, with Pitt going 1-4 in its five games.

The Panthers opened versus Purdue on Friday, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to send the game into extra innings after a scoreless seventh. Things fell apart in the eighth, however, with the Boilermakers tagging on seven runs to secure a 13-9 win. Later that day, Pitt fell 10-4 to the hometown College of Charleston.

Pitt then played the Central Michigan Chippewas on Saturday, losing 11-6 in a shaky defensive game — six of the Chippewas’ 11 runs were unearned. Sophomore right fielder Hunter Levesque was Pitt’s biggest bright spot, reaching base in all three of her plate appearances with two hits and a walk.

In Saturday’s second game against the Wichita State Shockers, first-year pitcher Brittany Knight pitched a complete game, allowing just two runs to earn Pitt’s first victory of the season, 4-2. Levesque again starred with an RBI double and a drawn walk with the bases loaded.

Pitt rematched the Shockers the next day, and the result was quite different. Wichita State held Pitt to two runs this time around, beating the Panthers 7-2. Sophomore catcher Brie Horrell provided the only offense of the day with a two-run homer in the first inning.

Pitt moves to 1-4 in its first five games under new head coach Jodi Hermanek, and will look to improve upon that record in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge next weekend.

Gymnastics

Pitt’s gymnastics team suffered a tough road loss against the NC State Wolfpack, 196.400-194.825.

The Panthers had a season-best performance on floor, powered by a season-high 9.825 for both sophomore Jordan Ceccarini and junior Alecia Petrikis, who scored a matching season high on vault. Senior Charli Spivey rounded out the trio with a career-best 9.875 on floor, but the Panthers’ dominance in one area didn’t translate to the rest of the meet, as the Wolfpack scored season highs in all four events.

The Panthers are now 5-5 with a 1-3 mark in EAGL play, and will take part in a crucial quad meet against West Virginia, Cornell and Utah State in Morgantown Sunday, Feb. 17.

Tennis

The tennis team suffered its first shutout loss of the season over the weekend, a 7-0 sweep on the road against the 8-0 conference rival Louisville Cardinals.

The third-seed doubles pair of senior Clara Lucas and sophomore Camila Moreno had the best outing, playing their opponents to a tight 5-4 loss. In singles, sophomore Claudia Bartolome was Pitt’s best performer, losing in three sets by scores of 2-6, 6-3 and 7-10. Her middle set was the only singles victory by any of Pitt’s players.

The team is now 3-4 on the season and 0-2 in ACC play, and will take on the Bowling Green Falcons at home Saturday, Feb.16.

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Weekend Sports: Wrestling racks up three wins