Wrestling: Pitt sweeps weekend against top-15 opponents

By Mike Furlong

Last weekend, the Pitt wrestling team lost two matches to ranked opponents three days apart…. Last weekend, the Pitt wrestling team lost two matches to ranked opponents three days apart. This weekend, the Panthers made up for their losses within a few hours.

On Sunday, the No. 20 Pitt team took victories over No. 16 Nebraska and No. 11 Ohio State in a three-hour span, evening its record at 2-2.

In the first match, the Panthers took down Nebraska 22-10.

“The victory really was a team victory, a real team effort,” assistant coach Jason Peters said. “So far this season we’ve had a lot of that. The guys have been working hard and wrestling well as a whole.”

In the first match, senior Adam Counterman had the tall order of taking on returning national champion Jordan Burroughs in the 165-pound weight class. Counterman fell by major decision (25-10) to Burroughs.

At 174-pounds, redshirt junior Ethan Headlee picked up the win 4-0, and junior Zac Thomusseit picked up another victory by a score of 6-2 at 197-pounds.

“Zac is one of our toughest guys,” redshirt senior heavyweight Ryan Tomei said. “He always looks good for us, picking up big wins.”

Tomei picked up a 4-1 decision over Tucker Lane, who was ranked No. 7 nationally in that weight class.

“Tomei is always an important guy to have wrestle for us,” Peters said. “Tomei beat the No. 7 ranked guy out there. And he’s been wrestling hard for us.”

At 133-pounds, freshman Shelton Mack picked up his first dual-meet victory with a 6-4 win.

“Shelton always goes out and works hard in his matches,” Tomei said. “For a guy going out there as a really small 133-pounder, he wrestles as tough as a guy much bigger.”

At 141 pounds, freshman Mike Tully lost a tough 2-1 match. Tully is filling in for returning All-American Tyler Nauman, who has been out since the Clarion Open with an injury.

“Mike [Tully] has really been doing a better job,” Peters said. “It’s been a challenge having him in the lineup, but he’s definitely showing improvement. We’ll obviously be excited to get Nauman back in the lineup, but until then it’s good to see Tully get better and wrestle hard.”

In the second match of the day Pitt went up early, 18-0, and had to hold on tight to maintain the 18-17 victory over Ohio State.

The match also started at 165 pounds with Counterman, who won a 12-7 decision over Jared Kusar. Counterman’s match went to overtime where he won with a series of takedowns in the ride-out portion.

“Counterman got us started with a big win in overtime,” Peters said. “He had a good day for us, against Nebraska he went up against a returning national champion and came out against Ohio State and picked up a big win for us.”

Headlee followed up at 174-pounds with a win over Nick Heflin. Headlee was able to record near-fall points in the second period before pinning Heflin at the 4:36 mark.

“Headlee has done a good job for us,” Peters said. “We need those bonus points in matches like this and with his fall he gave us those and that made the difference.”

Freshman Max Thomusseit notched an 8-2 victory over Peter Capone at 184-pounds. Then, Zac Thomusseit won at 197-pounds with a 5-0 decision over Cody Magrum, who was ranked No. 14 in the nation.

At heavyweight, Tomei continued the streak with a 4-0 shutout over Jonathan Hiles.

After the heavyweight match the Panthers had to fight off strong Ohio State comebacks in the next five matches. Ohio State was the victor in all five matches, but the Panthers were able to hold on for the victory.

In all four of Pitt’s matches this season, the Panthers faced a ranked opponent — something that Peters said is a great way to gear up for the season.

“We decided to schedule this way to get the guys ready for the conference season,” Peters said. “They’re doing a great job, wrestling these teams really hard. You know our main goal is to get them ready for the NCAAs, and when we get there we’ll be seeing the same guys we’ve been wrestling so far this season.”

It doesn’t look to get any easier for the Panthers. Next weekend the team travels to the Journeyman Northeast Duals in Albany, N.Y., with matches against Penn and Virginia, both teams with perennial success.