Despite a string of victories from redshirt upperclassmen Tyler Wilps, Max Thomusseit and Nick Bonaccorsi, the Pitt wrestling team couldn’t climb out of an early hole against a top-ranked adversary.
A few pivotal moments did not fall in favor of the Panthers (7-3, 2-0 ACC) as they lost in Stillwater, Okla., 25-13, to No. 8 Oklahoma State University (5-2) and its slew of talented wrestlers.
In the first of what would be eight matches against ranked opponents, Pitt freshman Dom Forys, coming off a perfect day of wrestling at the Pitt Duals, couldn’t kick-start the Panthers and upset Oklahoma State’s No. 10, Eddie Kilmara at 125 pounds.
With the team trailing 3-0, redshirt freshman Nick Zanetta came out strong in his match against Gary Wayne Harding at 133 pounds, grabbing an early 2-0 lead. Zanetta increased his lead to 4-1 with another takedown, and he headed into the final period leading 4-3.
But, in the third period, Harding recorded a three-point near-fall and never relinquished his lead, winning the match 6-4.
After Oklahoma State earned bonus points for a fall at 141 pounds, Pitt sophomore Mikey Racciato came up just short in a competitive match with No. 4 Josh Kindig.
Racciato, one of Pitt’s most aggressive wrestlers, came out firing in a back-and-forth match. With the score 4-3 in favor of Racciato, a wild few seconds led to a takedown accompanied by two near-fall points for Kindig, quickly followed by a Racciato reversal and two near-fall points of his own, before finally allowing Kindig to escape.
The exchange prompted a few minutes of video review for the referee to ensure that the scoring was correct, and the score was settled at 8-8 heading into the third and final period. Racciato, who held the top position, couldn’t keep Kindig down, and was later taken down by the Oklahoma State wrestler. After the official implemented a one-point riding time bonus, Kindig was victorious by 12-8.
Losing the first four matches, Pitt found itself trailing 15-0 before redshirt junior Ronnie Garbinsky faced Oklahoma State’s No. 19 Anthony Collica. Garbinsky battled Collica into a tiebreaker period, in which he earned a reversal and rode out Collica to earn Pitt its first team points of the match.
Redshirt freshman Cody Wiercioch went out at 165 looking to develop some momentum for Pitt against the nation’s top-ranked wrestler in the weight class, Alex Dieringer. A lopsided match on paper ended likewise, with Dieringer recording a fall to essentially crush Pitt’s chances at winning the dual and increasing OSU’s lead to 21-3.
Pitt’s charge back in team points started with No. 8 redshirt senior Wilps at 174 pounds. Wilps toyed with No. 18, Jordan Rogers, frequently taking down Rogers, only to let him escape and take him down again.
Wilps’ domination resulted in a 17-8 major decision, securing Pitt four more team points before turning the mat over to redshirt senior, No. 2 Thomusseit.
Thomusseit began the match in dominating fashion, taking down OSU’s No. 15 Nolan Boyd with ease and scratching out an early 8-4 lead.
However, as the match went on, Thomusseit’s lead began to vanish, presenting him with a few dicey situations. A three-point near-fall and reversal coupled with a few Thomusseit takedowns moved the score to 13-12, favoring Thomusseit late into the third period.
As the third period drew to a close, officials called Thomusseit for a second stalling warning, rewarding Boyd with a point and tying the score at 13. Yet, with a few seconds left on the clock, Thomusseit earned a point via escape and just barely earned a 14-13 win in one of the best matches of the day.
The match brought the team score to 21-10, meaning that Pitt would need two falls in the final two matches to secure enough team points to win the dual. Pitt’s redshirt junior No. 18 Bonaccorsi bullied his opponent throughout the 197 pound bout, but his 8-2 decision was only worth three team points, which secured a dual win for Oklahoma State.
To round up the day, Oklahoma State’s No. 5 Austin Marsden recorded a major decision over Pitt sophomore John Rizzo, closing the team score at 25-13.
Despite a tough day on the mat, Pitt’s top two wrestlers, redshirt seniors Wilps and Thomusseit, both picked up victories and increased their records to 8-2 and 18-1, respectively. Garbinsky and Bonaccorsi also chipped in wins, moving their respective records to 9-8 and 11-6.
The Panthers will return to the mat looking to add to an undefeated ACC record (2-0) against Virginia Sunday at 2 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va.