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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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An attendee speaks during the “Be a Good Neighbor” Town Hall in the William Pitt Union on Thursday evening.
Panel discusses renters’ rights, red flags to look out for
By Marissa Kelley, Staff Writer • 12:08 am

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An attendee speaks during the “Be a Good Neighbor” Town Hall in the William Pitt Union on Thursday evening.
Panel discusses renters’ rights, red flags to look out for
By Marissa Kelley, Staff Writer • 12:08 am

Preview | Pitt wrestling looks to fill big shoes in 2023-2024

A+Pitt+wrestler+takes+off+their+headgear+during+the+Blue-Gold+Dual+at+the+Fitzgerald+Field+House+on+Monday%2C+Oct.+30.
Amaya Lobato | Assistant Visual Editor
A Pitt wrestler takes off their headgear during the Blue-Gold Dual at the Fitzgerald Field House on Monday, Oct. 30.

Last season, Pitt wrestling reached new heights, winning a share of the ACC regular season title and boasting an NCAA Champion in Nino Bonaccorsi at 197 pounds. With all the hype surrounding last year’s performance, the Panthers enter the 2023-2024 campaign with high expectations. 

But after losing Bonaccorsi, as well as several other key starters in the offseason, the Panthers will find difficulty continuing last season’s success this year. Pitt needs some wrestlers — specifically a few first-years — to step up to fill in the gaps. 

Fans already got a glimpse of the new-look Panthers last weekend, as the program competed in the Clarion Open on Sunday. The Panthers impressed at the Open, finishing third as a team and boasting two individual championships. 

Despite the Panthers’ strong opening performance, questions still linger as to how the program will fare in the rest of the regular season, specifically in dual matches. The Panthers are currently ranked No. 15 in the nation in dual matches, according to InterMat. Still, the Panthers will need to perform well in dual matches if they hope to defend their regular season ACC crown. 

One of the biggest questions surrounding the roster this season is who will step up to replace Bonaccorsi. The former NCAA Champion was a major contributor for the Panthers during his six seasons with the program — both as a leader and as a reliable winner at the 197-pound weight class. 

At 197 pounds, the Panthers have already found Bonaccorsi’s replacement in redshirt first-year Mac Stout. The Mount Lebanon native had a breakout performance at the Clarion Open, winning five matches en route to a tournament title. Stout — who has four years of eligibility remaining — will prove vital for the Panthers in this and future seasons. 

While Bonaccorsi’s replacement at 197 pounds is already set, the Panthers still need to find a new leader to step up to fill the void left by his departure. A likely candidate for the role is redshirt senior 141-pounder Cole Matthews. The redshirt senior is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation, according to InterMat. Matthews provides veteran leadership to a young Panthers program. 

Another potential leader for the Panthers this season is junior Reece Heller. The junior — who competes at the 184-pound weight class — recently found success at the Clarion Open, winning his division in dominant fashion. Heller is currently ranked No. 14 in the nation in his weight class, according to InterMat. 

The Panthers will need these wrestlers to step up and lead the program as it embarks on one of its toughest regular seasons in recent years. The Panthers kick off their dual schedule on Nov. 12 at the Navy Duals in Annapolis, Maryland. 

From there, Pitt’s schedule gets even tougher, as it faces off against a string of four highly-touted opponents. The Panthers will first take on No. 22 Lehigh on the road on Nov. 19.

Pitt will then compete against three Big Ten programs in a row — Maryland, No. 24 Illinois and No. 7 Ohio State.

To kick off 2024, the Panthers face another, even harder string of opponents in early January. This includes No. 12 Oklahoma State on Jan. 12, No. 10 Iowa State on Jan. 14 and No. 11 Arizona State on Jan. 21. 

But the Panthers will need this experience against tough non-conference opponents if they want to compete in a very top-heavy ACC this season. Pitt’s first ACC opponent is arguably its hardest, as the Panthers will compete against No. 6 NC State on Jan. 26 in the Fitzgerald Field House. 

The Panthers will then take on another ACC title contender in No. 3 Virginia Tech on Feb. 16, which is also in the Fitzgerald Field House. Pitt does benefit from facing its two hardest opponents at home, but the Panthers are still heavy underdogs coming into both matchups. 

Pitt wraps up its conference schedule on March 10 at the ACC Championships in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Then, the Panthers will hope to boast another national champion to their history as they travel to Kansas City, Missouri on March 21-23 for the NCAA Championships. 

With a relatively young roster, the Panthers are an interesting team to watch in 2023-2024. If the first-years pan out and perform like they did in the Clarion Open, then the team could repeat much of its success from last year.

But the ACC is highly competitive this year. Both NC State and Virginia Tech are loaded with talent this season and will compete for an NCAA Championship in March. Nevertheless, upsets happen, and Pitt has a history of taking down some highly ranked teams. 

Still, the Panthers are not the same team they were last year. Pitt will likely fall to both ACC title favorites and finish third in the conference. Matthews could make a run at the NCAA Championships, but his weight class is loaded with talent. 

While this year may not live up to the successes of last year, the Panthers will still have a lot to look forward to in the near future. Boasting a young, yet talented roster, Pitt will continue to grow as a team and boast several national title hopefuls in the near future. 

 

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor