Pitt faces Maryland following loss to No. 5 Penn State

By Logan Hitchcock / Staff Writer

As the semester draws to a close, the Pitt wrestling team will return to the mat from a turkey-filled hiatus. 

The No. 11 Panthers (3-2, 0-0 ACC) face Big Ten opponent Maryland (4-3, 0-2 Big Ten) on Friday night in the Fitzgerald Field House for a final tune-up before the holiday break and conference matches beginning in January.

After starting the season with three consecutive dual wins, including one over No. 10 Edinboro, the team dropped two in a row to ranked foes No. 15 Lehigh and No. 5 Penn State before heading to the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia prior to Thanksgiving break.

Picking up 88 team points, Pitt earned itself a fourth place finish out of 14 teams and was represented at the top step of the podium. Individual winners No. 2 Max Thomusseit and freshman Dom Forys won at 184 and 125 pounds, respectively.

Thomusseit, a redshirt senior, continued his torrid start to the season, rolling through his first three opponents with major decisions and earning a trip to the finals to face No. 3 Lorenzo Thomas of Penn. In the finals, Thomusseit couldn’t be denied, earning a 5-3 victory, sealing the first place victory and extending his perfect record to start the season to 9-0.

Forys took a similar route to the title in his first tournament as a collegiate wrestler, earning two major decisions to start the tournament, followed by a 7-3 victory over Stanford’s Mason Pengilly. The freshman showed no nerves in the finals, blanking Eastern Michigan’s Shayne Wireman 4-0 and earning himself the Keystone Classic title while finishing the day undefeated.

The Panthers had five other wrestlers finish in the top six of their respective weight classes, including two second-place finishes from No. 10 redshirt junior Nick Bonaccorsi at 197, and fellow redshirt junior Ronnie Garbinsky at 157.

The team will try to piggyback on the momentum gained by the victories of Forys and Thomusseit, as well as the inspired wrestling of Garbinsky when it takes on the Maryland Terrapins.

Maryland is a newcomer to the Big Ten conference — historically known as a wrestling powerhouse — and has a 4-3 record to start the season. The team was handily defeated by ranked opponents No. 9 Nebraska and No. 18 Wisconsin. After starting the season 4-0, it has dropped three straight matches.

The match will feature the return home for some Maryland wrestlers who are Pittsburgh natives, Geoffrey and Justin Alexander.

Maryland freshman Adam Whitesell recently placed fourth in the 133-pound class at the Mat Town Open in Lock Haven, Pa., on Sunday.

Pitt is also nearing a full-strength squad, as the recent return of sophomore standout and NCAA qualifier Edgar Bright should help the team perform. Pitt will need to capitalize on the lack of top threat options by Maryland to snap a streak of consecutive losses in dual meets.

A win will be a welcomed parting gift. as Pitt won’t take the mat again until Jan. 1 at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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