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Solomon grabs heavy win for Panthers in Pitt Duals

By Logan Hitchcock / Staff Writer

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Despite moving up a weight class, head coach Jason Peters asked Ryan Solomon twice on Sunday to win a match for the Pitt wrestling team. And, both times, he delivered.

The redshirt freshman, forced to wrestle often larger opponents, won twice against North Carolina and Duke to clinch team wins in both matches.

“It was great. It was a lot of fun,” Solomon said.

Bookend victories in each of the first two matches by Dom Forys at 125 pounds and Solomon at 285 pounds helped propel the No. 9 Pitt Panthers (7-2, 2-0 ACC) to an undefeated Sunday at the Pitt Duals.

The host Panthers picked up dual victories over ACC foes North Carolina (3-3, 0-1 ACC) and Duke by scores of 21-15 and 20-15, respectively, before handily defeating Drexel 27-12 in their final match of the day.

Forys kick-started Pitt early in the first match of the day when he pinned North Carolina redshirt freshman Cody Karns in just more than four minutes. The win gave the Panthers an early 6-0 advantage in team points and gave Forys his first of three decisive victories of the day.

“Getting a pin gets you hyped and gets the positive energy flowing,” Forys said.

The freshman added that he takes the mat first every match because he “can get the team on a roll.”

Following a decision at 133 pounds, Pitt was forced to forfeit the 141-pound weight class due to no wrestlers being available at the weight. As a result, the Panthers trailed North Carolina 9-6 before consecutive victories by sophomore Mikey Racciato and redshirt freshman Cody Wiercioch regained the lead for Pitt, 12-9.

Two matches later, with the team score tied, redshirt senior No. 8 Tyler Wilps escaped early into the second tiebreaker and earned a 2-1 victory over North Carolina redshirt junior John Staudenmayer. Redshirt senior No. 2 Max Thomusseit followed that up at 184 pounds in his first action on the mat since his second-place finish at the Southern Scuffle earlier in the month.

Pitt held off any chance of a tiebreaking situation by North Carolina when Solomon, normally slotted for 197 pounds, wrestled up a weight class and sealed Pitt’s victory with a takedown in overtime to give him a win over UNC senior Frank Abbondanza at 285 pounds. The match was Solomon’s first dual action of his career and subsequently resulted in his first career dual win.

“Coach Peters told me he was going to need me,” Solomon said. “I told myself I needed to wrestle how I know how to wrestle.”

The next dual match — against Duke (5-3, 1-1 ACC) — began in a similar fashion for Pitt, as Forys again started the team’s scoring with a major decision at 125 pounds over Duke freshman Thayer Atkins.

Racciato then added a major decision over Duke’s No. 18 Marcus Cain at 149 pounds, giving Pitt an 11-6 lead.

After back-to-back losing decisions at 157 and 165, Pitt faced a one-point deficit. The deficit didn’t last long, as Wilps and Thomusseit secured their second victories of the day, giving Pitt a 17-12 lead. The lead slipped to just two points when redshirt junior Nick Bonaccorsi fell to Duke’s No. 5 Conner Hartmann at 197 pounds.

For the second time in as many matches, Solomon was sent out at 285 to secure a team victory. In a hard-fought match, Solomon, possessing plenty of size, battled Duke redshirt junior Brendan Walsh. Solomon prevailed in an exciting match that ended with an escape in a tiebreak situation, securing a Pitt victory.

The victory gave Solomon a perfect dual record thus far in his career.

Solomon’s win started momentum for Pitt, which defeated its next opponent, Drexel (4-5, 1-0 EIWA), without issue 27-12. The Panthers won the last five bouts of the match, including victories by Wilps and Thomusseit, giving them each their third win and an undefeated afternoon of wrestling.

Thomusseit, who increased his win total to 17 on the year, wasn’t exactly satisfied with his performance on the day.

“It was OK,” he said. “Maybe a C+ at best. There is always room for improvement, but a C’s passing.”

Wilps, Forys and Solomon joined Thomusseit as the only Panthers to record multiple wins without a loss on the day. Despite being down a man, the Panthers as a team moved to 7-2 overall, and a perfect 2-0 in ACC action.

“It takes a team to win, and I think you saw that today,” Peters said. “Finding three wins with nine guys per match is pretty good.”

Pitt will have the week to prepare before traveling to Stillwater, Okla., to face No. 8 Oklahoma State next Sunday.

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Solomon grabs heavy win for Panthers in Pitt Duals