Nino Bonaccorsi is Pitt’s first No. 1 seed at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships since Keith Gavin won the 174-pound title in 2008, but that doesn’t mean there’s a chance for him when the tournament begins Thursday morning in Tulsa. Would be an easy way out. , Oklahoma.
He’s 10-0 against the field, but could join his way: three-time NCAA qualifier (Penn’s Cole Arbus) in the first round, Greco senior World Team member (Braxton Amos of Wisconsin) in the second round, defending NCAA champion quarterback in the final (Max Dean of Penn State), the returning All-American in the semifinal (Michael Beard of Lehigh), and the returning NCAA runner-up in the championship round (Jake Warner of Iowa).
Bonacorci’s weight is so insane that last year’s finalists — Dean and Warner — are the ninth and 14th seeds this year.
“I think it’s just his weight class,” said Gavin, now Pitt’s head coach. “There are probably 15 people in that weight who are legitimate contenders. It’s not just his weight. College wrestling is in a great place.
“It’s very similar across the board. We knew there were a lot of people and we’ll see how it shakes out.
Bonacorsi’s weight is one of the trickier brackets in the tournament. The 2021 runner-up with a 16-0 record, he was an easy pick for the top seed. He is 10-0 against the field this season, with wins over No. 5 (Beard), No. 6 (NC State’s Isaac Trumbull, twice), No. 11 (Maryland’s Jackson Smith), No. 12 (Illinois’ Zack Brunagell) with. No. 13 (Younger Bastida of Iowa State), No. 21 (Andy Smith of Virginia Tech), No. 25 (Michael Batista of Virginia, twice) and No. 32 (Max Shaw of North Carolina).
Even crazier is the fact that at some point in his six years at Pitt, Bonaccorsi beat North Dakota State’s No. 16 Owen Pentz, Campbell’s No. 22 Levi Hopkins, Michigan State’s No. 19 Cameron Caffee, No. 26 Gavin is defeated. Hoffman of Ohio State, No. 27 Nick Stammett of Stanford, and No. 30 Andrew Davison of Northwestern. This means that he has won over 14 wrestlers in this category.
Of course, he’s also lost to No. 3 (Missouri’s Rocky alum), No. 6 (Trumble, twice), No. 9 (Dean) and No. 26 (Hoffman).
All of which is to say that Bonaccorsi has been around a long time — he’s a five-time NCAA qualifier — and has wrestled a lot of good guys.
Bonaccorsi is one of six pit qualifiers, and Gavin knows everyone will need to wrestle very well to make it.
“I don’t think it’s easy for anybody,” Gavin said. “We have really tough matches for all of our guys, if not in the first round, then in the second round. But it is a national tournament. You can’t see too far ahead. You have to go about your business.
Cole Matthews, the third seed at 141 pounds, is 8-1 against the field this season. His first two matches look winnable – although he needed overtime at last year’s tournament to beat Colombia’s Mathieu Cazimir, who is seeded 19th and could face Mathews in the second round. The real challenge is likely to come in the quarterfinals against Penn State’s Beau Bartlett.
A win there could give Matthews a rematch with Northern Colorado’s Andrew Ellerez, who defeated him in the NWCA All-Star Classic. It is considered an exhibition match, so Matthews’ only loss was to West Virginia’s Jordan Titus according to the NCAA. The blow doesn’t seem as bad now that Titus is out of the Big 12 and the No. 29 seed.
Gavin said of Matthews, “He’s been very consistent.” “He had one mistake, but other than that, he’s been very consistent this year. There are a lot of guys at his weight who are good wrestlers that he’ll be watching early. He’s ready to go. Cole is usually pretty good on the big stage. Are. We’re excited for that.”
As the ninth seed at 133 pounds, Mickey Filippi is projected to just miss out on a podium finish, which would be heartbreaking after three previous blood-round losses and a canceled tournament in 2020 when he was 25-1 on the season. Filippi has Wyatt Henson of Oklahoma – a Waynesburg Central product – in the first round and could face Aaron Nagao of Minnesota in the second round. A second-round win will likely put Filippi up against two-time NCAA champion Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State.
Gavin said he is working to prepare Philippi mentally.
“For him, it is about reminding him that he has been there before, not only at the national level, but he has been there in big matches all his life. Ever since I’ve known Mickey, he’s been winning tight matches. This is nothing new to him. He’s going to be in some heaters, but nothing he hasn’t experienced before.
Holden Heller, seeded 20th at 165, No. 13 Alex Facundo already has a Penn State matchup. at 184, No. 16 Reece Heller will face Lehigh’s Tate Samuelson, the No. 17 seed.
Gavin said of Reece Heller, “He’s wrestling well right now.” “He has the Lehigh kid that he beat earlier in the year, but he made a big move right off the bat.
Luca Augustine is the lowest seeded Panther at No. 28. He will face fifth-seeded Oklahoma State’s Dustin Platt in the first round. The redshirt freshman is just 1-7 against the field, but five of those losses came by one takedown or less.
Gavin said of Augustine, “He’s a bad draw because he’s bothered to wrestle.” “Even down, he gets to his feet in a second. He has a lot of things that are hard to teach people to do. He has that intangible. He’s always in front of you, never gives up.”
Gavin said after the ACC tournament that he thinks this group can score the team a lot of points in the race, and he reiterated this week.
“I think we can definitely have a better tournament at the national level because we really believe in our guys,” he said. “People are excited to go.”