Wrestling: Tomei earns milestone win in Pitt victory over Bloomsburg

By Mike Furlong

Earning 100 victories is not an easy task for any person in collegiate wrestling. Yet Pitt… Earning 100 victories is not an easy task for any person in collegiate wrestling. Yet Pitt currently has two such accomplished wrestlers on its roster.

When senior Ryan Tomei had his hand raised for the 100th time as a Panther after a win over Bloomsburg Sunday, it marked the second time this January that a Pitt wrestler has achieved that milestone — redshirt junior Tyler Nauman reached his 100th win a few weeks back.

“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Pitt head coach Rande Stottlemyer said. “Especially for the situation that [Tomei] was in — he doesn’t start wrestling until his senior year [in high school]. He’s a remarkable story in a lot of ways. I just wish he had more time. He’s doing the best he can, and he’s doing a pretty good job of it.”

Thanks in part to Tomei’s personal career milestone, the Panthers (9-6, 2-0 EWL) dismantled the Bloomsburg Huskies (11-5, 0-3 EWL) by a score of 22-8 at home in the Fitzgerald Field House.

The Panthers jumped out early with sophomore Anthony Zanetta pulling in a 6-4 overtime victory over Bloomsburg freshman Sean Boylan.

Zanetta was able to fight back hard against Boylan, using two penalty points awarded for Boylan locking hands and for an illegal use of hands to the face. Zanetta capped off the bout with a sweep-single takedown for the win.

“I always try to get the match started off the right way,” Zanetta said. “Not so much for myself, but for the team. The energy level for the fans and for the other guys, it all plays into being the starting guy. I like the role. It’s a little bit of pressure on me and a little pressure never hurt anyone.”

Stottlemyer said Zanetta establishes a rhythm for the other Panthers on the team.

“That first guy, he’s always got to set the tone for us,” Stottlemyer said. “Zanetta is a go-go-go guy. He’s always got energy and you always want momentum coming from that first match.”

At one point during the match, Huskies head coach John Stutzman argued calls with the referee over the hands-to-the-face and locking-hands penalties which cost Bloomsburg a team point.

Pitt freshman Shelton Mack followed up at 133 pounds with another 6-4 victory. Mack was able to win the bout without the use of extra time. Heading into the third period, Mack was down by a score of 4-1 to fellow freshman Nick Wilcox. Mack used a bear hug toss to take Wilcox to his back, scoring five points with the throw.

With the Panthers leading 6-0, Nauman picked apart freshman Derek Shingara with a series of takedowns on the way to a 15-4 major-decision victory.

At 157 pounds, redshirt sophomore Donnie Tasser dropped a close match to No. 26 Frank Hickman by a score of 7-6. Tasser, now ranked No. 33 by the Coaches’ Panel poll, lost the match on riding time, after Hickman rode on top for more than one minute.

Entering the 165-pound match, the Panthers still held control with a score of 13-2. Redshirt junior Ethan Headlee came out on top of a mostly defensive match with No. 32 Josh Veltre. The victory was Headlee’s team-leading 22nd of the season.

Headlee, wrestling in his 12th match at 165 pounds this season after wrestling the rest of the season at 174 pounds, has amassed a 9-3 record since dropping weight classes.

“It began really as an experiment,” assistant coach Jason Peters said earlier in the week about Headlee’s change of weight class. “Ethan started losing a little weight, and it really kind of solidified itself. He started having some success at 165 [pounds] and we kept him there. In the past Ethan has had the most success at that weight so it was really all about getting him back to his most successful spot.”

The Panthers held onto a firm lead of 16-5 entering the 184-pound match. Freshman Max Thomusseit scored a 3-1 decision over Nate Graham. Thomusseit required overtime to score the winning single-leg takedown over Graham.

At 197 pounds, senior Phil Sorrentino dropped a tough decision to redshirt freshman Richard Perry by a score of 7-4. Sorrentino, who has been filling in at 197 pounds since Zac Thomusseit was injured, wrestled another tough match, despite being listed on the roster as a 165-pounder.

Then Tomei took the mat with a career record of 99-32. He dominated the bout with junior Zac Walsh securing a 5-1 decision. Tomei’s 100th win as a Panther brought the Fitzgerald Field House crowd to its feet to applaud the heavyweight on his accomplishment.

Next up for the Panthers is the wrestling installment of the Backyard Brawl, with a matchup Friday night at home against West Virginia. The match is being promoted as “Fill the Fitz” for the rivalry.

“Anytime you wrestle West Virginia, it’s going to be fun,” Zanetta said. “It’s going to be a great crowd and a great time. You get pumped up for those types of matches, I think that’s when everyone wrestles their best.”

Editor’s note: Donnie Tasser is a Pitt News staff writer.