April 20, 2014
LAS VEGAS - Pitt wrestling great Keith Gavin won his second consecutive United States Open freestyle wrestling title late on Saturday night in Las Vegas, defeating Clayton Foster 7-4 in a dramatic final of the 86-kilogram tournament.
Gavin fell behind 4-0 to Foster, who he defeated 4-2 in last year's U.S. Open final, but rallied with seven straight points to overcome one of his main rivals for a trip to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Gavin is the most recent Pitt Wrestling national champion. He won the NCAA individual championship at 174 pounds in 2008, becoming the 16th national champion in school history and first since Pat Santoro in 1989. A two-time All-American, Gavin also finished second at the 2007 NCAA Championships.
While Gavin was the only wrestler with Pitt ties in the U.S. Open brackets, several current Panthers also travelled to Las Vegas to compete in the FILA Juniors Nationals freestyle tournament, which featured many of the best under-20 wrestlers in the nation.
Nick Zanetta recorded the best result of any Pitt wrestler during the week, finishing eighth in the 60 kilograms/132 pounds weight class.
The brother of recently graduated Pitt Wrestling 100-win club member Anthony Zanetta, Nick Zanetta advanced to the quarterfinals with three dominating victories before suffering a heartbreaking 5-4 defeat to Jack Hathaway. Zanetta, who won 10 matches in open tournaments while redshirting at Pitt last season, then recorded one victory in the consolation bracket to ensure his spot on the podium.
Edgar Bright finished 2-2 in the 66 kilograms/145 pounds tournament, picking up one win in the championship bracket and one victory in the consolation bracket. Bright will return for his sophomore season at Pitt in the fall after a stellar freshman campaign that saw him win 19 matches, finish second at the ACC Championships and qualify for nationals.
Mikey Racciato lost both of his matches in Las Vegas at 70 kilograms/154 pounds. Racciato will also be a sophomore returning starter for the Panthers next season after he tallied 22 wins and a team-high seven pins while finishing second at the ACC Championships and qualifying for nationals as a freshman.
Finally, Alen Turcinhodzic finished with a 3-2 record at 96 kilograms/211 pounds. After losing his first match, Turcinhodzic won three straight bouts in the consolation bracket before coming up just two victories short of earning a podium place. He redshirted last season at Pitt, winning 11 matches in open tournaments.