Backyard wrestling: West Virginia tops Pitt in latest Backyard Brawl

The West Virginia wrestling team traveled only 77 miles from Morgantown to Pittsburgh to add on to a disappointing season for the Pitt wrestling team.

After falling to the No. 15 Michigan Wolverines earlier in the weekend, the Panthers (8-8, 2-3 ACC) closed out their dual season with a 24-14 loss to the rival West Virginia Mountaineers (9-9) in the “Backyard Brawl” at the Fitzgerald Field House on Sunday.

Beginning at 149 pounds, Pitt sophomore No. 20 Mikey Racciato quickly got the Panthers on the board, dominating West Virginia’s Roman Perryman and earning a 13-4 major decision.

At 157, the “Brawl” came to life as Pitt sent out redshirt junior Ronnie Garbinsky to take on West Virginia’s Brutus Scheffel. A highly contested 1-0 match became the subject of much debate when Pitt head coach Jason Peters asked for a review during a third period takedown by Scheffel.

A lengthy review went back and forth between the Pitt and West Virginia crowds and ended with the official awarding one point to Garbinsky due to a holding violation by Scheffel, making the score 3-2 in favor of Scheffel.

“The crowd definitely got involved in the end,” Garbinsky said. “I heard them chanting, and it definitely helps. It takes your mind off being tired.”

With a little extra motivation from the crowd, Garbinsky escaped from Scheffel’s grasp during the final moments of the third, forcing an overtime period. 

After keeping Scheffel down during the entirety of the first overtime period, Garbinksy started the second period on bottom and escaped only seven seconds in. However, due to a clock malfunction, the buzzer stopped action after the escape, sending the crowd into another frenzy.

 Garbinsky recovered and held Scheffel at bay during the final 23 seconds of the second overtime period and earned himself a victory.

On Pitt’s Senior Day, redshirt senior No. 8 Tyler Wilps quickly reminded the Panthers of his dominance over the course of his career. Wilps easily dissected West Virginia redshirt freshman Parker VonEgidy at 174 pounds and ended his dual career with a major decision.

Despite it being his last home dual match, not much changed in terms of preparation for Wilps.

“I went out there expecting to win, as I do most matches, and I got it,” he said.

Nevertheless, he admitted that his last home dual match felt a little different.

“It hasn’t really settled in,” Wilps said. “But, at the same time, it was exciting. I had fun out there.”

Pitt redshirt senior Troy Reaghard couldn’t follow up the big win with one of his own. Reaghard had a difficult task, wrestling up two weight classes for No. 2 redshirt senior, Max Thomusseit, who was out with an injury precaution. Reaghard battled for the match’s entirety, but could not do much against a much bigger wrestler, eventually yielding a 9-2 decision.

The 11-6 score in favor of Pitt would be its last lead of the day, as West Virginia sophomore Jake Smith wasted no time in disposing of Pitt redshirt junior Nick Bonaccorsi, earning a fall early in the first period and giving West Virginia a 12-11 advantage.

After the fall, much like Reaghard, Peters also had to send out redshirt freshman Ryan Solomon to wrestle above his weight class. Solomon, who typically wrestles at 197 pounds but is asked to wrestle up on occasion, was the crowd favorite during a modified David and Goliath rematch with West Virginia’s A.J. Vizcarrondo at the 285-pound weight class.

Solomon came up just shy, losing 2-1 by virtue of a riding time advantage for Vizcarrondo.

Following Solomon’s loss, Pitt dropped the 125-pound bout by major decision, the team’s fourth consecutive loss. Pitt trailed West Virginia 19-11 with only two matches left and needed bonus points via major decision or fall during the final two to have a chance at winning the dual.

After getting a victory at 133 pounds from redshirt freshman Nick Zanetta, Pitt needed a fall from freshman Ben Ross at 141 pounds in order to secure a victory for the team.

However, West Virgina’s No. 16 Michael Morales overmatched Ross, losing by technical fall, making the final team score 24-14 in favor of the Mountaineers.

“We gave up too many bonus points throughout the day,” Peters said. “We’re missing some pieces, but we have to get better.”

The Panthers, after winning their first eight ACC matches, have lost three conference matches in a row, plus Sunday’s match against WVU. The team still will host the ACC Championships, where they look to defend their ACC regular season dual from last year. The tournament will take place at the Petersen Events Center on Sunday, March 8.

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