March 22, 2008
PITTSBURGH--Pitt's Keith Gavin captured the 2008 National Championship at 174 pounds with a 4-2 victory over Michigan's Steve Luke tonight at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Gavin finished his senior season with a record of 27 wins and zero losses, recording Pitt's first undefeated season since Pat Santoro went 48-0 as a junior in 1988.
After a scoreless first frame, Gavin chose bottom to begin the second and quickly registered an escape, gaining a 1-0 advantage with less than 10 seconds gone in the period. He followed the escape with a takedown that swelled his lead to three. Luke managed an escape before the end of the second period, however, and headed to the third down by just two points.
Like Gavin in the second, the Wolverine grappler also chose the bottom position to begin the final period of action, hoping to gain another escape and trim the deficit to just one. Last year's national runner up, Gavin would not allow Luke to leave his grasp and used a series of trips to keep his opponent close to the mat for the majority of the period. Gavin's unyielding work from the top position helped him rack up well over a minute of riding time and earn an extra point at the conclusion of the match.
Luke was finally able to wriggle free with 22 seconds remaining on the clock, but Gavin held off his offensive advances and waited for the clock to strike zero.
The victory makes Gavin the school's first national champion since Santoro accomplished the feat in 1988 and 1989. Pitt now has 16 national champions in its rich wrestling history.
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