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Campbell, Panthers blow by Edinboro, 24-9

Pitt+sophomore+TeShan+Campbell+advanced+to+8-2+on+the+season+with+a+4-1+win+Sunday+over+West+Virginia%27s+Ryan+Lopez.++Dagmar+Seppala+%7C+Staff+Photographer
Pitt sophomore TeShan Campbell advanced to 8-2 on the season with a 4-1 win Sunday over West Virginia's Ryan Lopez.  Dagmar Seppala | Staff Photographer

Pitt sophomore TeShan Campbell advanced to 8-2 on the season with a 4-1 win Sunday over West Virginia's Ryan Lopez. Dagmar Seppala | Staff Photographer

Pitt sophomore TeShan Campbell advanced to 8-2 on the season with a 4-1 win Sunday over West Virginia's Ryan Lopez. Dagmar Seppala | Staff Photographer

By Chris Puzia / Assistant Sports Editor

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Surrendering four years — but no weight — to his redshirt senior competitor, Pitt wrestler TeShan Campbell did not relent after falling into an early hole.

“I just keep looking to score, stay focused on getting more points,” Campbell said after coming back from an early hole to defeat his Edinboro competitor, 14-12, and extend the Pitt wrestling team’s close lead.

In their first dual match action since Nov. 20, the Panthers (4-1) defeated the Edinboro Fighting Scots (4-3) 24-9 in the Fitzgerald Field House Thursday night.

Campbell, a local freshman from Penn Hills, trailed by four points in the first period, but made several key takedowns late to build his lead. After his go-ahead maneuver, the Pitt crowd roared to its feet, which Campbell said helped him close out the victory and give Pitt a crucial 15-9 lead.

“The crowd noise gives you a bit of a kick in the butt, like, ‘I gotta go get that point, get that takedown,’” Campbell said. “That definitely played a role. I enjoyed it, it’s definitely a great atmosphere to be around.”

Pitt head coach Jason Peters said freshmen like Campbell and LJ Bentley — who won the first bout of the night 7-5 — have progressed quickly after their first few collegiate matches.

“It’s a young group, we’re asking a lot of them, and the expectations are high for them, and right now they’re delivering,” Peters said. “Every once in a while, they may stub their toe, but Bentley beat a top-20 guy tonight, which was good. They’re progressing week to week.”

But Campbell wasn’t the only Panther with a close and difficult bout Thursday.

One of Pitt’s more experienced wrestlers, junior Mikey Racciato, has led the Panthers this season, earning a national ranking as high as No. 9 at 141 pounds.

He received an unexpected challenge from the 12-9 Edinboro freshman, Nate Hagan.

Hagan executed several takedowns to bring a narrow 7-5 Racciato lead to the third period. The Edinboro bench looked for the tying takedown late in the match, but did not receive it. Scots coach Tim Flynn, who had already received a mat misconduct warning earlier in the night, screamed at the referee, but Racciato escaped victorious.

Edinboro fielded a young lineup in the early weight classes, trotting out freshmen in its first five bouts, and Pitt took advantage, jumping out to a 12-0 lead after the first three matches.

Sophomore Dom Forys earned three takedowns in the first 45 seconds of the 133-pound match, controlling a 6-2 lead. Edinboro freshman Tony Recco never gave the 9-1 Panther a challenge, as Forys pinned him in the first period.

Forys said getting an early pin helps more than just his personal record.

“It gets the guys hyped up, the crowd gets wild,” Forys said. “It gets everybody fired up and gives them more confidence [on the mat].”

Peters said results like Forys’ on Thursday come from work in the weight room and in practice.

“He listened to the instruction. He works really hard, and he expects a lot of himself, so we’re happy for him,” Peters said.

While Forys got some early takedowns on Recco before his first-period pin, he said he wasn’t necessarily deviating from his normal attacking style of play.

“My style is just aggressive in general, so my coaches told me I don’t need to go pin him in the first 20 seconds,” Forys said. “I can just slowly but surely work him and get him tired and score points. The pin will come.”

The Scots finally got on the board in the fourth match, when Patricio Lugo decisively handled Pitt’s Robert Lee, 11-6.

In the next match, another Edinboro freshman, Spencer Nagy, took a late 4-2 advantage over redshirt senior Ronnie Garbinsky with a takedown. Peters challenged the near fall, but the takedown stood up after replay and Peters lost his only challenge. Nagy held on for a 4-3 win.

Two seniors with a combined 133 career wins faced off at 197 when Pitt’s Nick Bonaccorsi wrestled Vince Pickett and won 4-0.

Pitt takes the mat next on Saturday, when it hosts No. 15 Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Peters said the team will try to carry Thursday’s performance into the difficult weekend match.

“We’re just going to take tomorrow to watch some video, evaluate some things that happened tonight, and hopefully we’ll put on a good show,” Peters said.

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Campbell, Panthers blow by Edinboro, 24-9