The University of Pittsburgh wrestling team needed a spark on Sunday evening in the season-opening dual match against the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.
And senior leader and team captain Jake Wentzel provided that boost for the Panthers (1-0, 0-0 ACC).
With his team trailing 14-3 after dropping four of the first five bouts to the Midshipmen (0-1, 0-0 EIWA), Wentzel won his opening match of the season against No. 7 Tanner Skidgel of Navy by a 5-2 decision, sparking a furious Pitt rally that saw the visitors take the last five contests of the dual to triumph 22-14.
"Jake found a way tonight, even when it didn't look like it was going to go his way," Pitt head coach Keith Gavin said of Wentzel. "The upper weights did a really nice job. We know we can count on the likes of Wentzel, Harvey and Bonaccorsi, but it was great to see McGill and Slinger win as well."
The Panthers, who were ranked No. 14 by the NWCA Coaches Poll ahead of the 2021 season, won against Navy for the first time since 1995. The teams hadn't met in wrestling since 1997.
Also crucial in Pitt's fourth consecutive season-opening victory under Gavin were technical falls earned at 197 pounds and heavyweight by Nino Bonaccorsi and Jake Slinger, respectively.
Both put on impressive scoring performances to tally bonus points for the Panthers, with Bonaccorsi's last-second technical fall giving Pitt its first lead of the dual at 17-14.
Also winning for the Panthers, two-time defending ACC champion at 133 pounds Micky Phillippi began his 2021 campaign with a steady 8-3 decision, while redshirt freshman Jared McGill and senior captain Gregg Harvey also edged out decisions that were vital to continuing Pitt's momentum late in the dual.
"We knew Navy would fight hard," Coach Gavin added. "They have a strong team led by a new coach in Cary Kolat. We have a lot of respect for those guys. We're also very thankful to get the dual in as well as extra matches. Every wrestler that traveled competed twice, so we're appreciative of Navy's efforts in helping to make that happen with us."
The Panthers and Midshipmen also utilized an additional mat during and after the dual to give numerous student-athletes on both teams the opportunity to compete. Pitt's starters faced Navy's reserves and vice versa following the dual as well.
Full results from Sunday's action are available below.
125 | Logan Treaster (Navy) dec. Colton Camacho (Pitt), 5-1 (Navy leads, 3-0)
133 | Micky Phillippi (Pitt) dec. Jacob Allen (Navy), 8-3 (Tied 3-3)
141 | Cody Trybus (Navy) dec. Cole Matthews (Pitt), 6-4 (SV1) (Navy leads, 6-3)
149 | Casey Cobb (Navy) dec. Luke Kemerer (Pitt), 5-3 (Navy leads, 9-3)
157 | Andrew Cerniglia (Navy) tech. fall Tyler Badgett (Pitt), 16-1 (Navy leads, 14-3)
165 | Jake Wentzel (Pitt) dec. Tanner Skidgel (Navy), 5-2 (Navy leads, 14-6)
174 | Jared McGill (Pitt) dec. Dean Caravela (Navy), 3-2 (Navy leads, 14-9)
184 | Gregg Harvey (Pitt) dec. Shane Finney (Navy), 12-7 (Navy leads, 14-12)
197 | Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) tech. fall Malcolm Wiley (Navy), 24-9 (Pitt leads, 17-14)
HWT | Jake Slinger (Pitt) tech. fall Riley Smith (Navy), 15-0 (Pitt wins, 22-14)
125 | Colton Camacho (Pitt) dec. Grant Treaster (Navy), 5-0
133 | Micky Phillippi (Pitt) tech. fall Luke Lucerne (Navy), 23-8, 6:39
133 | Ryan Michaels (Pitt) dec. Jacob Allen (Navy), 9-5
133 | Luke Lucerne (Navy) dec. Ryan Michaels (Pitt), 3-1
141 | Cole Matthews (Pitt) dec. Tyler Hunt (Navy), 9-4
149 | Casey Cobb (Navy) dec. Mick Burnett (Pitt), 5-1
157 | Tyler Badgett (Pitt) dec. Val Park (Navy), 4-2 SV1
157 | Andrew Cerniglia (Navy) tech. fall Dallas Bulsak (Pitt), 17-1, 2:38
157 | Val Park (Navy) fall Dallas Bulsak (Pitt), 5:45
165 | Jake Wentzel (Pitt) maj. dec. Henry Hague (Navy), 10-0
174 | Jared McGill (Pitt) pins Ethan Stern (Navy), 3:13
174 | Tommy O'Brien (Pitt) maj. dec. Ethan Stern (Navy), 15-3
174 | Dean Caravela (Navy) dec. Tommy O'Brien (Pitt), 5-4
184 | Gregg Harvey (Pitt) maj. dec. Gary Eakin (Navy), 13-4
184 | Nicholas Meglino (Pitt) maj. dec. Gary Eakin (Navy), 14-4
184 | Shane Finney (Navy) pins Nicholas Meglino (Pitt), 6:25
197 | Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) pins Paul Warner (Navy), 1:44
197 | James Lledo (Pitt) pins Paul Warner (Navy), 0:40
197 | James Lledo (Pitt) pins Malcolm Wiley (Navy), 0:58
285 | Jake Slinger (Pitt) pins Christian Bryant (Navy), 1:37