Weekend Preview: Athletics on tap before start of finals week


By Mark Powell / Staff Writer

It may signal the beginning of finals week to Pitt students, but this weekend also has a full slate of games in a variety of sports. The Panthers wrestling, track and field and gymnastics teams begin competitive play, while the women’s basketball team and the swimming and diving teams face tests away from Pittsburgh. 


Pitt wrestling looks to continue its recent success as the Panthers enter their inaugural ACC season against Maryland on Friday before traveling to State College, Pa., to take on Penn State Sunday. The Panthers are coming off two wins against Lehigh and Lock Haven.

The Panthers will have to raise their level of play as they enter one of the top wrestling conferences in the country. Still, Pitt expects to finish near the top of the conference after making it to the NCAA wrestling championships last season.

Tyler Wilps looks to build on his All-American season in 2012, and is off to an impressive start after taking home an individual title at the Keystone Classic last week at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Shelton Mack also took home an individual title in his weight class. Pitt finished in fourth place as a team with 95 points.

Track and Field

Pitt men’s and women’s track and field teams will begin their seasons Friday at the Golden Flash Gala in Kent, Ohio. This will be the Panthers first collegiate match of the year, having only competed against each other in the annual Blue-Gold scrimmage.

The women’s team is led by Julia Koloski and Xauddina Whittington, who look to improve on their individual accomplishments in the scrimmage. Koloski won the 300-meter race, the long jump and the triple jump. Whittington claimed the 500-meter dash.

On the men’s side, seniors Brycen Spratling and Carvin Nkanata expect to lead the Panthers to a successful first season in the ACC. Spratling finished last season as a Second Team All-American, while Nkanata made the First Team.

Women’s Basketball

The Panthers will travel to Staten Island, N.Y., to take on Wagner this Saturday at noon. Pitt has had a mediocre start to the season, going 4-3 in their first seven games.

Pitt is coming off a disappointing home loss to Buffalo Sunday, a game in which they went in as the favorites. Despite a valiant second-half effort, the Panthers could not overcome a 16-point first-half deficit. Junior guard Brianna Kiesel led the way for the Panthers with a game-high 17 points.

Pitt will look to continue their success on the road this season, as they are 2-1 in three games. The Panthers’ only loss was at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.

After this game, the Panthers have one home game against Old Dominion before traveling to Las Vegas for the Duel in the Desert tournament.

Women’s Gymnastics

The Panthers will take part in their annual Blue-Gold Exhibition this Saturday at Kent State. Pitt is coming off one of the most successful seasons in the history of the program.

Last year, the Panthers had one first-place finish and six second-place finishes. The season culminated with a fifth-place finish in the NCAA Regionals at UCLA.

Pitt brings a much more experienced team this season, as they have seven upperclassmen. Coach Debbie Yohman looks to continue changing the culture of Pitt gymnastics and build off last season’s success.

Swimming and Diving

Pitt swimming and Diving travels to Knoxville, Tenn., this weekend to take part in the AT&T Winter Nationals. 

The Panthers are coming off a successful showing at the Pitt Invitational, in which they won 25 events. The women were led by Kinga Cichowska, who set a school record for the 200-yard breaststroke and won three events on the weekend.

The Panthers will send 17 men and 10 women to the event.