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March 15, 2012

SAINT LOUIS – Three Pitt wrestlers advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I National Championships on Thursday night at the Scottrade Center. Anthony Zanetta (125), Tyler Nauman (149) and Matt Wilps (197) will all continue their quest for a national title when action resumes on Friday.

Shelton Mack (133) and Ethan Headlee (174) are still alive with one win on the day, while P.J. Tasser’s Cinderella run to the national tournament came to an end with a pair of losses on the first day.

As a team, the Panthers are tied with Edinboro for 20th with 18 points, just one half point behind Missouri and Oregon State. Penn State leads the event with 38.5 points, while Minnesota is second with 33. Attendance for day one of competition was 18,695.

Anthony Zanetta (125)

Zanetta knocked off third-seeded Alan Waters (Missouri) in the quarterfinals, thanks to a late takedown in regulation and another takedown in sudden victory. It was the first victory over a top-10 opponent this season for the Pitt junior, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. A win tomorrow in the quarterfinals and Zanetta will lock up his first All-American honor. Of course, it won’t be easy as he will have to upset another seeded wrestler, No. 6 Frank Perelli (Cornell).

The very start of Zanetta’s day didn’t go so well, as he was taken down off the whistle in his first round match against North Carolina State’s Coltin Fought. From there on it couldn’t have gone better as he went on to beat Fought by major decision, 14-4, and then went on to beat Waters.

Next Match: No. 6 Frank Perrelli (Cornell) – Perrelli advanced with a 4-3 win over No. 11 Matt Snyder (Virginia)


Tyler Nauman (149)

Nauman has faced little resistance on his way to the quarterfinals, dominating both of his opponents in the first two rounds. He opened with a 9-4 decision over Dean Pavlou (Chattanooga) and followed that with a 6-0 shutout over Bloomsburg’s Bryce Busler, his third win over Busler this season.

The 149-pound bracket has been one of the crazier weights of the tournament with numerous seeded wrestlers losing early. Busler sent one of those seeded wrestlers to the wrestlebacks with a 10-9 win over No. 11 Taylor Walsh (Indiana). Other wrestlers to fall in the first round were No. 4 Donnie Vinson (Binghamton), No 9 David Habat (Edinboro) No. 10 Cam Tessari (Ohio State) and No. 12 Ivan Lopouchanski (Purdue). Hofstra’s Justin Accordino, who Nauman has beaten twice this season, was the one to beat Loupochanski and then decked No. 5 Ian Miller (Kent State) in the second round with a fall.

Next Match: No. 3 Cole VonOhlen (Air Force) – VonOhlen advanced with a 7-4 win over Steve Santos (Columbia)


Matt Wilps (197)

Wilps faced a little scare in his second round match against Purdue’s A.J. Kissel, but it literally lasted just seconds. Leading 6-4, the Pitt junior gave up the tying takedown with 11 seconds left in regulation. Just seconds after being takedown, Wilps reversed Kissel to his back for five points and an 11-6 win.

In the morning session, Wilps advanced with a 7-3 decision over George Mason’s Bagna Tovuujav, a three-time national qualifier who entered with a 20-3 record.

Next match: No. 6 Brent Haynes (Missouri) – Haynes advanced with a 6-0 decision over Micah Burak (Penn)


Shelton Mack (133)

Mack won his national tournament debut with a takedown in overtime over Frank Lomas (Cal-Bakersfield), posting what should be the first of many wins during the tournament in his career at Pitt. It was a great win, but he was in a tough part of the bracket. The win gave the chance to take on top-seeded Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State), one of the most dominant wrestlers in the country.

Mack lost by fall to Oliver - lots of people have this season, including his first opponent on Thursday - but still has hopes of earning All-American status when action resumes on Friday.

Next match: Nathan McCormick (Missouri) - McCormick advanced with a 5-0 decision over Jordan Keller (Oklahoma)


Ethan Headlee (174)

Ethan Headlee kept his hopes of becoming an All-American alive with a 6-4 decision over Ohio’s Nick Purdue in the first round of consolations. He had a tough draw in his opening round match, getting No. 8 Leroy Munster (Northwestern). He was in that match for most of the way, but ended up losing 8-2 on a late five-point move.

Next match: Tyler Koehn (Nebraska) – Koehn lost to No. 3 Nick Amuchastegui (Stanford) 8-0


P.J. Tasser (HWT)

Redshirt sophomore P.J. Tasser saw his season come to an end with a 5-0 loss to Michigan’s Ben Apland in the first round of consolations. But, he nearly guaranteed himself a match for tomorrow, sending his first round bout against Kevin Innis (Boston) into overtime. He forced the extra period with a late takedown, but gave one up himself in sudden victory, sending him to the wrestlebacks.

Tasser can hang his hat on a third-place finish at the Eastern Wrestling League Tournament despite wrestling heavyweight at 188 pounds. Also, he had wins over national qualifiers Mike Dessino (Bloomsburg, 174) and Ben Clymer (Hofstra, 184) during the season.


National Championships: Three Pitt Wrestlers Advance to Quarterfinals

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