Wrestling: Panthers lose to Ohio State, recover with win over Cleveland State

By Mike Furlong

The Pitt wrestling team suffered its first loss of the season on Friday, falling at home to Ohio… The Pitt wrestling team suffered its first loss of the season on Friday, falling at home to Ohio State 22-9.

The matchup between the No. 9 Panthers and the No. 6 Buckeyes marked the third time that Pitt wrestled a top-10 team in its non-conference schedule.

“I think we can beat that team,” assistant coach Jason Peters said. “They got their hand raised more times than we did tonight, but if we come out and win the tough matches … I think we come out on top. We’ve done that in the past, tonight we didn’t.”

The duals started at 165 pounds rather than the usual 125 pounds because of a random draw requested by the Ohio State coaching staff. The decision proved useful for the Buckeyes as they went on to win the first three bouts of the night, setting out to a 10-0 lead.

“You know, they were just better than us tonight.” Peters said. “They like to draw, they drew last year. We won last year at their place, and they got us this year at ours. I don’t think the draw has anything to do with it, we just need to come out and do a better job.”

At 165 pounds, redshirt freshman Tyler Wilps fell to Derek Garcia 7-5 in sudden-victory. Wilps had to battle back early in the bout due to several points scored by Garcia on diving low-single leg takedowns. Wilps tied the bout with a takedown in the third period to force overtime.

At 184 pounds, sophomore Max Thomusseit lost by major decision to No. 13 C.J. Magrum by a score of 13-5. For Thomusseit, the battle back from an early-season injury has proven difficult — he has compiled a 2-3 record since returning.

“You know he’s still coming back from injury,” older brother and heavyweight Zac Thomusseit said. “Mentally he needs to get his confidence back up because he’s just been out of it for a while. He needs to get some wins under his belt. He’s wrestling well and his conditioning is good, he just needs that confidence.”

The Panthers picked three straight wins to bring the match to an even 9-9 score beginning with a decision victory by redshirt junior Matt Wilps. Wilps, ranked No. 5 in the nation, won his bout over Andrew Campolattano with a 4-2 decision. With the bout tied at 2-2 entering the third period, Wilps decided to keep the bout on the ground and wrestled on top of Campolattano. He took the lead on a stalling call against Campolattano followed by a point awarded for riding time at the end of the bout.

Senior heavyweight Zac Thomusseit won the next bout with a 12-6 decision. Thomusseit, ranked No. 17, completely outwrestled the No. 11-ranked Peter Capone of Ohio State. Thomusseit was in position to win the bout by major decision, but a late reversal scored by Capone erased the opportunity. “I felt a lot more confident than I have,” Thomusseit said. “The guy was more of my size so I could go out and wrestle him without being outweighed by 60 pounds.”

The bout at 125 pounds in which No. 17-ranked Pitt junior Anthony Zanetta defeated No. 15 Johnni DiJulius was unusual. Zanetta came out on top with a 4-3 decision in sudden-victory, but he did not score a single offensive point in the bout. He aquired his points with an escape and two stalling calls and a penalty point in overtime called against DiJulius for an illegal hold.

Dijulius was given a stalling warning followed by two stalling calls in the second period for hanging onto Zanetta’s ankle and not attempting to return Zanetta to the mat on escape attempts.  “I knew how he was going to wrestle,” Zanetta said. “I knew it was going to be a slower-paced match. My opponent’s style kind of dictated the pace of the match. I knew not to force things and to stay in good position.”

Following the 125-pound bout, the team score was tied at 9-9 due to Ohio State losing a point after head coach Tom Ryan argued with the referee over stalling calls.

With the match tied, the Buckeyes went out and won the next four bouts to secure the 22-9 victory. They added one bonus point on a major decision win at 133 pounds by No. 3-ranked Logan Stieber.

Ohio State’s Hunter Stieber, ranked No. 6 in the nation at 141 pounds, picked up a 7-5 decision win over Pitt’s Travis Shaffer. The bout was a rematch between the two after Shaffer picked up a 7-2 win over Stieber in high school at the Dapper Dan Classic at the Fitzgerald Field House last March.

The loss to Ohio State marks the end of the Panthers’ early non-conference matchups, during which Pitt picked up wins over Lehigh, Drexel, and Michigan. The matchups included three ranked opponents.

“With a schedule like we’ve had, it shows that we’re a program on the rise,” Zac Thomusseit said. “For all of those teams to want to schedule against us means that they know we’re able to compete against them.”

Despite a loss by double-digit points at home, the Panthers said they will not be disheartened by the match.

“We really need to stay positive,” Zanetta said. “I know it’s cliche to say keep working hard and keep doing the same things. But it’s not a secret to success, you know, it’s hard work and focusing on the things you need to do.”

The Panthers began Eastern Wrestling League action on Sunday with a win away at Cleveland State. The Panthers saw the matchup as a way to bounce back from the tough loss to the Buckeyes. “You know our first EWL match is against Cleveland State, maybe not the best of the league,” Zanetta said.

“We can’t put teams like that behind us. We still need to get excited and pumped up for it. It’s just another opportunity to put this match behind us and start another winning streak.”

The 39-3 win marked Pitt’s 13th straight victory over over an Eastern Wrestling League opponent. The Panthers picked up a victory in nine of the 10 matches and recorded bonus points in eight matches.

Redshirt seniors Tyler Nauman and Ethan Headlee picked up second-period pins in their matches, while seven Panthers finished with major decisions. At 165 pounds, Tyler Wilps almost added to the list of major decisions, picking up a 12-5 victory. Zanetta and Tyler Wilps are both undefeated.

Chris Weber picked up the only win for Cleveland State at 285 pounds. He defeated Joel Yahner 3-1.

The first conference win marks the beginning of the Panthers’ attempt to earn their third consecutive EWL team title. “We always want to keep that going to win the conference championship,” Peters said. “That’s always the goal.”

The Panthers don’t have another match for two weeks, when they will compete in the Lock Haven Invitational.