Wrestling: Pitt off to 11-1-1 start, including 2-0 in EWL play

By Evan Burgos

Pitt wrestling opened its Eastern Wrestling League schedule this past weekend with two… Pitt wrestling opened its Eastern Wrestling League schedule this past weekend with two convincing road victories. The Panthers, ranked 18th in the nation, first dispatched Lock Haven on Friday 28-9 and then Bloomsburg on Sunday 23-12. The Panthers responded well to a demanding weekend of traveling. After a night match Friday at Lock Haven, the squad had just one day to travel about five hours to Bloomsburg, go through weigh-ins and workout before Sunday afternoon’s matchup. “It can be a demanding weekend,” coach Rande Stottlemyer said. “The guys did a really good job.” The victories pushed the Panthers to 11-1-1 on the season and 2-0 in EWL play. Six Pitt wrestlers went undefeated on the weekend. Anthony Zanetta swept decisions in the 125-pound weight class, David Sullivan won both bouts at 174 pounds, Zac Thomusseit only yielded three points in his two matches at the 184 division and Matt Wilps at 197 and Ryan Tomei at 285 took all bouts for the heavyweights. Sophomore Tyler Nauman was perhaps the most impressive on the weekend, dominating the 141-pound class. At Lock Haven, Nauman recorded the only fall of the day, pinning Nikkien Fauntleroy in 4:29. The pin was Nauman’s eighth this season and the 26th of his career. Nauman followed up his performance Friday with another impressive outing Sunday, downing Bloomsburg’s Frank Hickman 8-0 for a major decision. Lock Haven The Panthers won the first match of the evening behind Zanetta, who took the decision 13-3, but fell behind when they lost three of the next four bouts. Jimmy Conroy fell to John Trumbetti at 133 with a decision of 9-3, Eric Albright lost in three overtime rounds to Brock Parker 3-2 and Donnie Tasser lost another close match 4-3 to Seth Creasy at 149 pounds. With Nauman’s fall at 141, the Panthers found themselves down 3-2 with five bouts to go. They would not look back. Pitt swept the remaining matches, including major decisions by senior Sullivan at 174 pounds, sophomore Wilps at 197 and Tomei, a junior, at 285. Bloomsburg Freshman Zanetta again set the tone for the Panthers, who took the first three matches of the day, including Nauman’s 8-0 major decision. Pitt, however, lost the next three bouts at the 149, 157 and 165 weight classes to three ranked Bloomsburg wrestlers. The Panthers got back on track with a 2-0 victory by Sullivan at 174 and didn’t lose another match the rest of the afternoon. “Bloomsburg we thought would be a bigger challenge,” Stottlemyer said. “But the guys brought a pretty good effort and stepped up to the challenge. To always get a good start out of Zanetta, that helps a lot. It sets a nice pace.” Tomei provided an emphatic finish to the day, with a 14-5 drubbing of Zac Walsh. Tomei earned a major decision for the bout that included five takedowns and a near fall for the bonus-point win. “The guys really stepped up,” Stottlemyer said. “They wrestled hard.” The Panthers next turn their attention to matches at Cleveland State on Thursday and at home Saturday against the University of Pennsylvania. Stottlemyer counts EWL matches as doubly important and expects challenges from both opponents. Stottlemyer expects his group to continue to improve as the season wears on and hopes for the team to peak at the right time. “We hope we’re saving our best for last because we’re getting better,” the coach said. “We wrestled better on Sunday than we did on Friday. We’re anxious and looking forward to it.” “The guys have done a good job and they’ve bought into the process of working their tail off year round. It’s paid dividends for us.”