Nov. 7, 2011
PITTSBURGH - Three Pitt wrestlers opened the season by winning titles at the Buffalo Open on Saturday. Anthony Zanetta (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks), Tyler Nauman (Middletown, Pa./Middletown) and Zac Thomusseit (St. Paris, Ohio/St. Paris Graham) placed first, while another five Panthers finished as runner-up.
Zanetta rolled to the title at 125 pounds, outscoring his four opponents 56-14. The junior opened the tournament with a pair of 23-6 technical falls before advancing to the finals with a 4-2 win over Caleb Richardson. He wrapped up a perfect 4-0 day with a 6-2 win over third-seeded Korey Mines (Edinboro) in the championship match.
Nauman, ranked third in the nation at 149, won his bracket with a 10-3 win over second-seeded Kyle Rosser (Lehigh). The senior's only close match of the day came in the semifinals where he edged Edinboro's David Habat 6-5. Prior to that he had pinned Korey Gillen (Lock Haven) in the first period and posted a 12-3 major decision over Josh Micek (Buffalo).
Thomusseit wrestled unattached and went 3-0 to win his first competition at heavyweight. A returning national qualifier at 197, Thomusseit proved he can have success moving up a weight as he was in control the entire tournament. After easy 8-1 and 7-0 wins in his first two matches, he topped Ernest James, a returning starter for Edinboro, 3-2 in the finals.
Pitt had wrestlers in seven of the 10 championship matches. Shelton Mack (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) (133), Donnie Tasser (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon) (157), P.J. Tasser (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon) (174), Andy Vaughan (Gibsonia, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic) (184) and Matt Wilps (Oakdale, Pa./Chartiers Valley) (197) all came up one match short with second-place showings.
Wilps, a redshirt junior, had one of the toughest early season tests, competing against nationally-ranked wrestlers in back-to-back matches. Wilps, who is ranked in the top 10 in some polls, notched an impressive win in the semifinals with a 2-1 overtime victory over eighth-ranked Joe Kennedy (Lehigh). Wilps and Kennedy could meet again when Pitt travels to Lehigh on Saturday, Nov. 12. The championship match between Wilps and Edinboro's Chris Honeycutt is almost certain to be the first in multiple battles between the two this season. Honeycutt is ranked fifth at 184 and won this time, 7-2.
Mack and Vaughan also lost to nationally-ranked wrestlers in the finals. Mack posted decisions over Chris Dinnien (Lehigh) and Dan Riggi (Binghamton) before falling 1-0 to Aaron Schopp (Edinboro) in a matchup between two of the favorites in the EWL this season. Vaughan had decisions over Zack Zelcs (Gannon) and Jake Waste (Buffalo) in his first two matches. His only loss was a 9-3 verdict to one of the top wrestlers in the country in second-ranked Robert Hamlin (Lehigh).
Donnie Tasser and P.J. Tasser each posted 3-1 records on the day. Donnie's day included a major decision in the quarterfinals and a 3-2 win over Edinboro's Johnny Greisheimer in the semifinals. P.J. was noted by the Pitt coaching staff as having one of the best tournaments of his college career. He opened his season with a pin and followed that with a decision over Chris Hrunka (Edinboro). The redshirt sophomore handed second-seeded Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) a 3-2 loss to advance to the championship match, where he just missed winning his first tournament, falling to John-Martin Cannon (Buffalo) 3-1 in overtime.
In all, Pitt had 12 wrestlers place in the tournament. Rounding out the Panther place-winners were freshman Travis Shaffer (Derry, Pa./Derry) (4th at 141), freshman Nick Bonaccorsi (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) (5th at 174), senior Zach Grove (York, Pa./Central York) (7th at 133), freshman Ronnie Garbinsky (Tyrone, Pa./Tyrone) (7th at 141) and senior Victor Konno (Kempton, Pa./Northern Lehigh) (7th at 157).
Pitt, ranked 15th in the nation by WrestlingReport.com, will wrestle its first dual meet of the season this Saturday at fifth-ranked Lehigh. The two-day trip to eastern Pennsylvania also includes a match at Drexel on Sunday.
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