Feb. 16, 2012
No. 20 Edinboro at No. 9 PITT
Friday, February 17, 2012 7 p.m. ET
Fitzgerald Field House (3,098) Pittsburgh, Pa.
Television: Watch the broadcast free of charge live on PittsburghPanthers.com. The match will also air on Pitt Panthers Television (Channel 188 or 210 in Pittsburgh area) on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 1 p.m. Jacob Wise and Shawn Amistade will provide the play-by-play and color commentary. Amistade was a three-time national qualifier for the Panthers at 133 pounds from 1998-2002.
Live Blog/Chat: www.pittsburghpanthers.com.
Coaches: Pitt: Rande Stottlemyer, 33rd season (294-223); Edinboro: Tim Flynn, 14th season (154-45-4).
Series: Pitt and Edinboro meet for the 14th time in series history. The Fighting Scots lead the overall series 16-8-0.
PITTSBURGH - Friday night's wrestling match between No. 9 Pitt and No. 20 Edinboro should have it all. In addition to two nationally-ranked teams battling for the Eastern Wrestling League Dual Meet Championship, the Panthers' six seniors will be honored for Senior Night, and over 40 former members of the wrestling program will be present for Alumni Night.
The match itself is guaranteed to be highly competitive with lots of close individual bouts in front of what is hoped to be a packed crowd at the Fitzgerald Field House. Pitt and Edinboro have been the top two teams in the conference for nearly a decade. The Panthers have won the last two EWL regular season titles, while Edinboro won six straight before that.
Pitt has won the last two matchups with Edinboro after ending an 11-match losing streak to the Fighting Scots in 2010, but Edinboro leads the all-time series 16-8-0.
Despite the losing record against the Fighting Scots, the Panthers have been the team to beat in the conference in the past three seasons. Head coach Rande Stottlemyer's squad has won 17 straight matches in the EWL. A win over Edinboro would give Pitt three straight undefeated seasons in the conference.
The match will feature six nationally-ranked wrestlers on each team, including four ranked in the top-10.
A closer look at each potential matchup...
125 - No. 16 Anthony Zanetta, Pitt (24-3) vs. Kory Mines, Edinboro (14-14)
Zanetta had his perfect dual meet season come to an end with a loss to No. 12 Steve Bonanno in Pitt's win over Hofstra, but he will be the heavy favorite against Mines in his attempt to give the Panthers an early lead like he has so many times in his career. Zanetta is 24-3 this season and 2-0 in dual meets against the Fighting Scots in his career. He already has a 6-0 decision over Mines in the finals of the Buffalo Open earlier this season.
133 - No. 24 Shelton Mack, Pitt (16-7) vs. No. 7 A.J. Schopp, Edinboro (32-3)
Mack has already proven he can hang with Schopp in a 1-0 loss in the finals of the Buffalo Open earlier this season. But, Mack is one of the few opponents who has hung with Schopp this season. Edinboro's redshirt freshman is third in the nation with 15 pins and fourth with seven technical falls. Both Mack and Schopp are unbeaten in EWL dual meets this season and could meet up again in the finals of the EWL Tournament.
141 - Travis Shaffer, Pitt (16-12) vs. No. 18 Mitchell Port, Edinboro (24-6)
This is a matchup between two young wrestlers with a lot of potential. Shaffer is a true freshman who has had to adjust to college wrestling on the fly, while Port was able to benefit from a redshirt season and is now ranked 18th in Division I. As often happens with true freshman, Shaffer has had some big wins this season and some tough losses, but has shown he can't be counted out against any of the conference opponents.
149 - No. 15 Tyler Nauman, Pitt (23-4) vs. No. 6 Dave Habat, Edinboro (32-5)
This may be the most anticipated match of the night and could be important for momentum in the dual meet. Nauman beat Habat in the semifinals of the season-opening Buffalo Open, but fell to him twice in a pair of close decisions at the Cliff Keen Invitational. The winner of this bout is pretty much guaranteed the top seed at the EWL Tournament. Nauman can't catch a break in the rankings this season, dropping two spots in the latest WrestlingReport.com poll despite a win over Hofstra's No. 17 Justin Accordino last weekend. The former All-American has just four losses this season, all to top-10 ranked wrestlers and has two wins over top-10 guys, including a decision over No. 7 Eric Grajales (Michigan).
157 - Donnie Tasser, Pitt (11-9) vs. Casey Fuller, Edinboro (19-17)
These two have similar records, but Tasser has the only significant win of the two with his decision over No. 7 Frank Hickman, who defeated Fuller, 19-6. This is another must-win for Tasser in his attempt to qualify for the national tournament - unless, of course, he earns an automatic bid - and may also be a must-win for the Panthers if they want to win their third straight title.
165 - Tyler Wilps, Pitt (14-10) vs. Jesse Swink, Edinboro (8-10)
Wilps has faced a tough schedule this season as over one-third of his matches have been against ranked opponents. Against Edinboro, he gets the only wrestler with a losing record in the Fighting Scots' lineup. Wilps nearly pulled off the upset against No. 17 P.J. Gillespie in Pitt's win over Hofstra, coming up just short in a 5-4 overtime loss.
File this under the good-problem-to-have category. Headlee will probably be the top seed at the EWL Tournament. If for some reason he couldn't go, Tasser would probably be the top seed in the EWL Tournament. Tasser would be a starter at some weight in any other school in the conference. Fortunately for the Panthers, Tasser loves being at Pitt. Regardless who goes here, the Panthers like their chances at this weight.
184 - No. 32 Andy Vaughan, Pitt (17-6) vs. No. 28 Vic Avery, Edinboro (20-11)
Fifth-year senior vs. true freshman. Andy Vaughan had to wait until his fifth season to become a full-time starter for the Panthers. Will all that time backing up multiple national qualifiers give him an edge against the rookie?
197 - No. 5 Matt Wilps, Pitt (26-2) vs. No. 1 Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro) (32-0)
Honeycutt is one of Wilps's two losses this season - the finals of the Buffalo open - and this is almost certain to be the finals matchup in the EWL Tournament in a pretty stacked weight class. Wilps is unbeaten in dual meets this season (14-0) while Honeycutt is just unbeaten period.
285 - Joel Yahner, Pitt (6-18) vs. No. 23 Ernest James, Edinboro (27-8)
Yet another tough matchup for Pitt's true freshman, against another nationally-ranked wrestler. Yahner looked improved in his most recent outings, but this could be a tough challenge. When James wins, he pins. Exactly half (14) of his 28 victories this season have come by fall.