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The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
Chris Matthews: Inspiring language learners at home and abroad
By Anna Kuntz, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024
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Takeaways | Pitt wrestling loses more momentum with loss to Oklahoma State

Redshirt+first-year+Vinnie+Santaniello+competes+during+Friday+nights+wrestling+meet+at+the+Fitzgerald+Field+House.+
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
Redshirt first-year Vinnie Santaniello competes during Friday night’s wrestling meet at the Fitzgerald Field House.

No. 15 Pitt wrestling (7-4, ACC 0-0) put itself on the map this season following a 21-13 beat down of No. 5 Ohio State on Dec. 10. The young Pitt program was in the midst of a four-match win streak and looked capable of taking on the nation’s best.

But it appears the Panthers’ momentum has all but disappeared, as the team is now 1-3 since its big match against the Buckeyes. 

Pitt faced another poor performance this weekend, as No. 5 Oklahoma State walloped the Panthers 31-6 at the Fitzgerald Field House on Friday. The Panthers were also supposed to travel to face off against No. 4 Iowa State on Sunday, but the match was canceled.

The Panthers may have missed out on another chance to prove themselves in Iowa this weekend, but their blowout loss to Oklahoma State shows that the team is not yet ready to take down elite-level programs. Pitt only managed to win two matches against the Cowboys despite having a record-setting crowd come out to cheer it on. 

But looking at the results of the match, it’s clear the Panthers were outmatched from the start. Out of the 10 matches wrestled on Friday, the Panthers were only favored in the rankings in three of these bouts. Oklahoma State is a historically elite program and proved too much to handle for the youthful Panthers.

Redshirt first-year Vinnie Santaniello competes during Friday night’s wrestling meet at the Fitzgerald Field House. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

Still, there were a few matches that should have played out much differently for Pitt. Arguably the biggest example of this came at the 141-pound bout, as redshirt first-year No. 8 Tagen Jamison of Oklahoma State dominated Pitt redshirt senior Cole Matthews 8-2. Matthews — a program veteran and former All-American — failed to earn a single takedown against the much younger Jamison. 

The Panthers faced another upset in their next match at 149 pounds, as No. 26 redshirt first-year Finn Solomon of Pitt fell to senior Sammy Alvarez by a major decision. The Oklahoma State senior had not wrestled a single match for the Cowboys prior to his bout against Solomon. 

In the last and arguably most important match of the night, the Panthers failed to make a dent in the Cowboys’ already insurmountable lead, as No. 9 redshirt first-year Dayton Pitzer fell to No. 11 redshirt junior Konner Doucet of Oklahoma State 3-0. Pitzer kept the match tied throughout the first two periods, but Doucet earned a hard-fought reversal to take the match. 

While the Cowboys completely controlled Pitt for the entire match, there are a few bright spots to takeaway for the Panthers. For one, the Panthers managed to limit the Cowboys from picking up extra points, as Oklahoma State earned just one pin and no technical falls throughout the match. 

The Panthers also had two wrestlers step up and earn big wins against ranked opponents on Friday. At 174 pounds, Pitt redshirt sophomore Luca Augustine picked up a narrow 2-1 overtime win over No. 28 first-year Brayden Thompson. Augustine is just one young Panther who has proven himself as a future star this season. The redshirt sophomore is now 9-2 on the season and is currently ranked No. 15 in the nation.

Pitt earned its best win of the night just two matches after Augustine’s close victory, as No. 15 redshirt first-year Mac Stout defeated No. 12

Redshirt first-year Mac Stout is declared the winner during Friday night’s wrestling meet at the Fitzgerald Field House. (Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor)

senior Luke Surber 5-2. Stout, like Augustine, is another young Panther to watch. The redshirt first-year began his 2023-24 campaign with a dominant first-place performance at the Clarion Open in November and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down since. 

But Pitt’s bright spots from Friday’s matchup do not change the fact that it is too young and lacks the star power to compete with the nation’s best. This issue will continue to plague the program moving forward as it embarks on its quest for a conference title in a loaded ACC this season. 

The Panthers’ next two matchups will prove especially difficult. Pitt will first face off against No. 22 Arizona State on Jan. 21 before their most anticipated match of the season against conference foe No. 8 NC State on Jan. 26. While the Panthers’ match against the Sun Devils is undoubtedly winnable, their match against the Wolfpack will likely prove too much to handle. 

Moving forward, the Panthers need to continue to fight for points like they did against the Cowboys. But more importantly, the young Panthers team needs a veteran presence, like Matthews, to take the reins and pick up big wins. 

About the Contributor
Brian Sherry, Sports Editor