After serving as a thorn in Pitt wrestling’s side over the past couple years, Ohio State wrestler Luke Pletcher is switching roles, crossing the mat to join head coach Keith Gavin’s staff as a volunteer assistant coach.
“We couldn’t be more excited about Luke joining our staff,” Gavin said in a statement. “He is obviously a very skilled and accomplished wrestler, but on top of that, I have always respected him for his approach to the sport, the way he competes and his character.”
Pletcher will join the Panthers following his graduation from Ohio State this spring, but he won’t need much of an introduction to the team. Pitt’s wrestlers became well-acquainted with Pletcher during his dominant career, falling to the Buckeye on several occasions.
Pletcher, the nation’s No. 1 wrestler at 141 pounds, helped Ohio State defeat Pitt 23-12 at a dual meet back in November. He thoroughly bested redshirt freshman Cole Matthews in a 23-9 victory.
The previous spring, Pletcher defeated the Panthers’ Micky Phillippi 3-1 in the 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
That would prove to be Pletcher’s last time participating in the NCAA Championships, as his senior season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was still the nation’s best 141-pounder when the season ended, with a 26-1 record, and will leave the Buckeyes with a 108-21 all-time record. He also earned All-American status twice, in 2018 and 2019.
Joining the Panthers will be a homecoming of sorts for Pletcher, who grew up wrestling at Greater Latrobe High School — less than an hour away from Pitt’s campus.
“Luke is from western Pennsylvania and is a great overall fit for us. He will have an immediate impact here,” Gavin said.
In addition to acting as a volunteer assistant, Pletcher will continue to further his own wrestling career, joining the Pittsburgh Wrestling Club Training Center while preparing for Olympic and world competitions.
“I’m really excited to join the team and start working with the guys,” Pletcher said. “Getting a chance to come back home to chase my Olympic dreams and help the guys on the team attain their goals was something that I couldn’t pass up.”