March 22, 2012
PITTSBURGH – Pitt head wrestling coach Rande Stottlemyer was named the Eastern Wrestling League Coach of the Year, determined by a vote of the seven conference coaches. It is the fifth Coach of the Year for Stottlemyer and the third in the last five years.
Stottlemyer, with the help of assistant coaches Jason Peters and Matt Kocher, led Pitt to its third straight EWL Dual Meet Championship, and its second straight title at the EWL Tournament. The Panthers were ranked in the top-10 for most of the season, finishing the year ninth in the dual meet rankings, bolstered by wins over two top-10 teams and a total of four top-25 teams.
The Panthers completed their third straight undefeated season in the conference, running their EWL streak to 18 straight wins. They clinched the regular season title with an easy win over nationally-ranked Edinboro in front of over 2,000 fans at the Fitzgerald Field House in the final home meet of the season. The big wins helped the team finish No. 9 in the final dual meet rankings, its first top-10 finish since 1963.
The success continued into the postseason as Pitt crowned four individual champions at the EWL Tournament and earned six automatic bids to the national tournament – Anthony Zanetta (125), Shelton Mack (133), Tyler Nauman (149), Ethan Headlee (174), Matt Wilps (197) and P.J. Tasser (HWT).
Those six wrestlers went on to compete in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Saint Louis, and helped Pitt to a 15th-place finish, its best showing since 1989.
The team is showing no sign of slowing down and next year should be just as successful. While they lose Nauman and Headlee to graduation – Nauman is a two-time All-American and four time national qualifier and Headlee is a four-time national qualifier – the Panthers will still have seven former national qualifiers on next year’s roster. In addition to Zanetta, Mack, Wilps, and P.J. Tasser, they will have Donnie Tasser, who qualified in 2011, as well as Max and Zac Thomusseit, who also qualified in 2011 but took medical redshirts this past season.