Pittsburg Wrestling Opened at Lehigh
The University of Pittsburgh wrestling team opened its 2007-08 season today at Lehigh University's Leeman-Turner Arena. The Panthers used multiple strong performances to hand the Mountain Hawks their first loss of the season by a tally of 24-9.
The afternoon began with the 125 pound match up of junior Brad Gentzle (Easton, Pa./Easton) and Lehigh's Mitch Berger. Gentzle trailed Berger after the first period 3-2, but regained his composure and pinned the Mountain Hawk with just less than five minutes gone in the bout, giving the Panthers an early 6-0 advantage in the match.
Sophomore Jimmy Conroy (South Plainfield, N.J./South Plainfield) was the next Panther to step to the line, as he squared off against Kevin Vinh. The New Jersey native found himself in a 5-2 hole after the first period and appeared to have gained the momentum back from Vinh, compiling well over a minute of riding time, but Vinh came on with a flurry to end the third period, taking the duel 7-6 and cutting the Panther's six point lead in half.
Returning All-American and No. 11 ranked Drew Headlee (Waynesburg, Pa./Waynesburg) jumped out to a 6-2 lead on Jeff Santo in the 141 match up after the first period and went on to take the bout by a score of 7-2.
Junior Joey Ecklof (Northampton, Pa./Northampton) suffered two takedowns in the first period to fall behind Lehigh's Trevor Chinn 4-2. After trading escapes, Ecklof picked up two stalling points in the third, but another Chinn takedown with 11 seconds left sealed his fate and the 149 bout went to the Mountain Hawks, 7-6.
Redshirt senior Matt Kocher (State College, Pa./State College), another of Pitt's three returning All-Americans, pummeled Dave Nakasone with a series of takedowns throughout the first two periods and appeared to have a major decision wrapped up until Nakasome scored a takedown late in the third to salvage some valuable team points for Lehigh. Kocher would claim victory in the bout by a score of 12-6.
Lehigh's Mike Galante racked up 42 seconds of riding time against Pitt junior Sean Richmond (Emmaus, Pa./Easton) in the first period and had extended that tally to 2:06 by the start of the third. Richmond registered two escapes during the bout, but was unable to muster any offense and the Mountain Hawks again cut Pitt's lead to three, 12-9.
In the afternoon's most crowd pleasing bout, Redshirt senior Keith Gavin (Factoryville, Pa./Lackawanna Trail), the nation's No. 1 ranked wrestler and last year's national runner-up in the 174 pound class, squared off with Lehigh's Alex Caruso in a very low scoring affair. After a scoreless first period, Caruso answered a Gavin escape in the second with one of his own in the third and sent the bout into overtime. After yet another stalemate in the overtime period, the two men once again traded escapes before Gavin registered a takedown to lock up a 4-2 victory.
David Sullivan (Dingmans Ferry, Pa./Delaware Valley/East Stroudsburg), a sophomore transfer from East Stroudsburg, turned the tide against Lehigh's 184 contestant David Craig with a two point reversal in the second and used a substantial amount of riding time to take his bout and stretch the team's lead to nine points with just two matches to go.
Sophomore A.J. Hunte (Brookline, Mass./Brookline) jumped out to a 4-1 lead on Alex Iacocca in the 184 duel and held off the Mountain Hawk's advances, winning by a count of 5-3.
In the heavyweight bout, former EWL Champion Zach Sheaffer (Carlisle, Pa./Cumberland Valley) controlled the match up for the beginning, as he registered a takedown against Justin Allen in the first and then smothered the Mountain Hawk heavyweight, accumulating almost four and a half minutes of riding time. Sheaffer took the bout 7-0 and set the final at 24-9.
The Panthers will look to continue their winning ways this Thursday, Nov. 15th when they travel to Bloomsburg to take on the Huskies at 7:30 p.m.