Tulsa, Okla. – There are no style points in the NCAA Division I wrestling championships, so Nino Bonaccorsi was fine with an “ugly win” for a shot at the 197-pound title.
Bonaccorsi defeated Rider's Ethan Laird 10-4 on Friday night to advance to Saturday's championship match and help salvage a very rough day for the Pitt wrestling team.
Mickey Filippi (133 pounds), Cole Matthews (141), Holden Heller (165) and Reece Heller (184) were each eliminated from the competition, and the Panthers tied for 21st with Northern Colorado.
Coach Keith Gavin said, “I'm really happy for Nino and my heart goes out to Cole and Mikey.” “It's brutal. It's a roller coaster emotionally.
Laird scored an early takedown against Bonacorsi – the first the super senior has given up in the tournament – but the lead didn't last long. Bonaccorsi scored a takedown and Laird fouled out for a 3–2 lead after one period.
“I knew I had to make it a grinder match,” said Bonaccorsi. “I couldn't be perfect with my setup or shots. I wanted to go out there and make it ugly. As you saw, I got taken down first. It wasn't part of the plan but I wanted to make it ugly Was.
A quick defense and a takedown a minute later cut the lead to 6–2. Bonaccorsi continued to press on the action and picked up a halting point before the end of the second.
Laird escaped twice in the third, but a third takedown and a riding-time point gave Bonaccorsi his second double-digit points of the tournament.
Gavin said, “They made that semi-final look too easy, but we know it's not going to be easy.”
Bonaccorsi is returning to the final in 2021 after losing there.
“It's definitely a great experience,” he said. “Not many people can say that they made it to the finals twice. The first time it didn't go my way, so God gave me a second chance to redeem myself. I'm going to do everything I can to go out there and win that match.” I have been.
South Dakota State's Tanner Sloan, the No. 7 seed, will take on Bonacorsi, who is 20-0 and the top seed, for the title.
Bonaccorsi advanced to the semifinal round with a convincing win over Big Ten winner Silas Allred of Nebraska. Using his patented single-leg-to-fore-ankle takedown twice in the opening minutes, he led 4–2 after the first period. Allred escaped and came close to a takedown but did not get it, a decision that was upheld on review.
Needing to escape to avoid being given a riding-time point, Bonaccorsi scored it with 34 seconds remaining in the third. He went deep on a time-wasting shot that almost ended up at the buzzer but was not awarded the two points and won 5–3.
Matthews lost in the quarterfinals to Penn State's Beau Bartlett. After avoiding trading, the bout went into overtime, and there were no points in the sudden-victory period, although Bartlett came close in the closing seconds.
After riding Bartlett in the first tiebreaker period, he chose neutral for the second. He countered Bartlett's efforts for the first 22 seconds, when he went out of bounds. Matthews was not called for a stop, so he needed to avoid Bartlett with eight seconds left, but the Nittany Lion fended off Pitt Corner's challenge and scored a takedown, making it 3–2 for Matthews.
The tiebreaker was no better for Matthews in the blood round. Facing Ohio State's Dylan D'Amilio, he defended two seconds into the period, forcing him to choose neutral in the second half of the tiebreaker. He could not come up with the winning takedown and lost 2–1.
Gavin was asked about Matthews not running Bartlett in the semi-finals, especially since he had not been warned to stop.
“I think the big issue with Cole, and it's clear, is he has to start pulling the trigger,” Gavin said. “We're yelling from the corner, especially the last one, ‘You've got to shoot!' But I get it. That's how he's rewarded for wrestling. He finished fifth in this tournament, being an All-American for the first time last year, and it was all about one thing: no offense, counter-offense. and top.
The good news for Mathews, a 2022 All-American, is that he's got another year at Pitt. Not so for Philippi, who suffered a fourth-blooded defeat, a 5-1 blowout to Virginia Tech's Sam Latona.
For Gavin, those four defeats will not define Philippi's legacy in the pit.
“Mickey's job is done and he's had a fantastic career here,” Gavin said. “Not only that, Mickey changed our schedule as well. He was the first to jump on board. He is a man of incredible character. I am grateful that I got the opportunity to train him. What he did for the program cannot be underestimated.”
On Friday morning, Philippi won two bouts. He controlled Iowa's Brody Teske from the top position and scored a takedown to win 4–1, then defeated Chattanooga's Brayden Palmer 6–3.
Hellers went home
Holden and Reece Heller each saw their seasons end in the Friday morning session. Reece Heller lost to Brian Soldano of Rutgers in his second round consolation match.
Holden won his second round bout by defeating West Virginia's Peyton Hall in a sudden victory 9–7.
Holden Heller said, “This is not the kind of match where you hold on to a takedown.” “He wrestles the same way I do and I knew it was going to be a hand-to-hand fight.”
Unfortunately for Holden Heller, his season came to a painful end after round one. He suffered an injury while wrestling Northern Illinois' Izak Oleynik and attempted to continue, but the Pitt coaching staff stopped the match when it became clear that he could not compete at his normal level.
“Pitt's Holden Heller suffered a rib injury, resulting in him being medically sidelined in the NCAA Round of 16 match-up. X-rays were negative and he is expected to make a full recovery,” according to a release from the athletic department. are supposed to.