PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh wrestling team opened up its 2012-13 home slate with a dramatic, 18-16, victory against No. 11 Virginia Tech this evening at Fitzgerald Field House. In the third overtime, with his squad trailing in the team score by a 16-12 mark, redshirt senior heavyweight Zac Thomusseit pinned David Marone to give the Panthers six team points and their first victory of the season.
"We're very fortunate to have a group of strong leaders who can bail us out when we are down," said associate head coach Jason Peters. "Zac wanted to win. He wanted to pin the guy to go out and he got it done."
After Virginia Tech picked up a major at 125, Shelton Mack got the Panthers on the board with a 3-2 decision over Eric Spjut at 133 pounds. After a scoreless first, Spjut started down and got a quick escape. Mack was able to get on the board with a nice double on the edge to take the 2-1 lead but Mack couldn't hold Spjut down to end the frame and the two went to the third tied at 2-2. Mack began the final frame down and earned a quick escape as was able to keep Spjut at bay for the remainder of the match to collect his sixth victory of the year.
The Hokies picked up decisions at the next four weight classes to take a 16-3 advantage into the 174 pound bout where Nick Bonaccorsi was able to secure three big points for the Panthers. After Bonaccorsi and Austin Gabel exchanged escapes in regulation the two grapplers went to overtime tied at 1-1. Bonaccorsi was the aggressor in the overtimes getting in on a couple of shots but was unable to finish and the match went on. After Gabel earned an escape in the fifth period to take the lead, Bonaccorsi was awarded a point when Gabel was called for locking hands in the sixth. The seventh period started with Bonaccorsi attempting several shots at Gabel who eventually got called for stalling to give the Panther the point and the victory.
Max Thomusseit kept the Pitt momentum going with a 3-1 decision over Nick Vetterlein at 184 pounds. After the two exchanged escapes in the second and third, Thomusseit was able to get in on a high crotch and finish with a double with 18 seconds remaining in regulation to claim the victory.
At 197 pounds, Matt Wilps continued his stellar season with an 8-2 decision over Derrick Borlie. Leading 5-0 and having the riding time point secured going into the final period, Wilps cut Borlie free and earned a takedown to push his lead to 7-1. Unfortunately for the senior, he was unable to secure another takedown after another Borlie free escape to earn the major putting the pressure on Zac Thomusseit in the night's final match.
Needing a major decision to tie the match or a tech fall or pin for the victory, Zac Thomusseit delivered in the clutch for the Panthers. After a scoreless first, Thomusseit started down in the second and earned a quick escape to take a 1-0 lead into the final period. Marone started down in the third and was able to reverse Thomusseit while he was trying to turn the Hokie heavyweight. Thomusseit kept his cool and quickly escaped to even the match at 2-2. Neither wrestler was able to connect on a shot at the end of regulation and the match went into overtime. In the first overtime, Pitt fans thought that Thomusseit had won the match with a pin on the edge but the referee ruled that time had expired prior to the fall. After Thomusseit rode Marone out in the second OT period, Thomusseit started down in the third. With Thomusseit trying to get to his feet to secure the decision the referee called a stalemate sending the two to the center of the mat. After the restart, Thomusseit was able to roll through, kick over and get Marone on his back in a scramble to secure the pin and the win at the 8:49 mark sending the crowd at Fitzgerald Field House into a frenzy.
The Panthers return to action next Friday, Dec. 7, when they welcome Maryland to Fitzgerald Field House for a 7 p.m. dual.
No. 18 Pitt 18, No. 11 Virginia Tech 16
125: No. 7 Jarrod Garnett (V) m. dec. Derrick Nelson (P), 14-3; VT leads, 4-0