Weekend Recap: Panthers succeed across the board in weekend action

By Nate Barnes | Sports Editor

Across the board, Pitt’s Olympic sports teams posted successful weekends. Highlights include a dominant victory for the wrestling team against the rival West Virginia Mountaineers, a sweep for women’s tennis and a new record set by the men’s track team. 

Wrestling at West Virginia

Pitt’s No. 7-ranked wrestling squad (11-1) traveled to Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday and levied a 33-6 victory on the Mountaineers at the WVU Coliseum. 

The teams were tied at two match wins apiece after the first four bouts, but the Panthers took control of the match with victories by Geno Morelli, Tyler Wilps, Max Thomusseit and P.J. Tasser.

Pitt’s wrestlers ended the match with six straight victories to emphatically break a 6-6 tie.  

Women’s tennis against Morehead State

Head coach Alex Santos began his tenure as Pitt’s tennis coach with a 7-0 sweep of Morehead State at Alpha Tennis and Fitness in Harmar, Pa. The Panthers began their match with a 2-0 advantage as the Eagles were forced to forfeit a doubles match and a singles point. 

Amanda Wickman and Audrey Ann Blakely then defeated Andrea LeBlanc and Hayley Wild 6-1 to secure the doubles point for Pitt despite Taylor Washington and Jocelyn Lu falling to Blair Preston and Sandrine Beaule.

Washington got her revenge in her No. 1 singles match against Preston when she notched a three-set win (5-7, 6-2, 10-8) after dropping the first set in a tiebreaker. 

In the rest of Pitt’s singles play, Blakely, Wickman, Lolade Ogungbesan and Katherine Castro all won in straight sets.

“We talked about creating a strong foundation for the program going forward, and as a coaching staff, we think the girls were able to come out with great poise and energy,” Santos said. “I believe that our preparation and attention to detail leading up to today has been strong, and it allowed us to play the big points very well.”

Track and field, Penn State National Invitational

Pitt’s men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams began their championship seasons, in which teams and athletes can qualify for conference and national tournaments, with a strong showing at the Penn State National Invitational in University Park, Pa. 

The Panthers’ 4×400 meter relay team set a meet record at the event by posting a time of 3:06.98. Micah Murray, Carvin Nkanata, Desmond Palmer and Brycen Spratling combined to break the former meet record of 3:07.33, also held by Pitt. 

Spratling won the 400-meter dash with a 46.32-second run, which qualified him for the ACC championships. Nkanata won the 200-meter dash after running it in 20.99 seconds.

For the women’s contingent, Ashley Corum won the triple jump with a personal-best jump of 12.88 meters. Hillary Boxheimer finished fifth in the 5,000-meter run at 17:25.89, and Dee Dee Adams placed seventh at 17:42.31.

Swimming and diving, Western Pennsylvania Invitational

At Saturday’s Western Pennsylvania Invitational held at Trees Hall Pool, the Panthers dominated in men’s and women’s events to win 28 of the 32 events held. 

Dani des Tombe won the women’s freestyle events in both the 50 and 500 meter, Tatyanna Sarjeant won the 1,000-yard freestyle, Renee Deschenes finished first in the 100-yard backstroke, and Julie Harrison won the 200-yard breast stroke. 

The men’s 200-yard freestyle relay team placed first with a time of 1:23.31. Alex Rodenkirk, Haden Calegan, David Sweeney and Sean Heiden made up the winning group. 

On the diving board, Aaron Snyder won the men’s 1-meter dive with a score of 321.00, and Rachel Saunders won for the women on the 1-meter board as well. 

The meet was the final home event for the team’s seniors, as the team’s final event of the season takes place at Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The ACC championships loom on the schedule, with the women’s tournament beginning Feb. 19 and men’s beginning Feb. 26. 

“It’s great to see how far the seniors have come, and to be under their leadership has put this team in a better place than where we were four years ago,” head coach Chuck Knoles said. “The seniors have positioned us well as a team as we move into the ACC championships.”