Members of Pitt's wrestling team will be getting another piece of jewelry for their collection. The Panthers claimed a third consecutive Eastern Wrestling League title Friday night with a convincing 26-10 victory against Edinboro before a crowd of 2,112 at Fitzgerald Field House.
"The rings have been getting bigger and bigger," said Pitt's Donnie Tasser, a redshirt junior from Belle Vernon who recorded a 6-0 victory in the 157-pound bout against Edinboro's Casey Fuller. "I can't wait to see this one."
Panthers teammate Anthony Zanetta, a junior from Keystone Oaks, is thrilled to be adding another ring to his collection.
"It's really neat how they give us the rings," Zanetta said. "They bring us to a Pitt football game and have the ceremony on the field during a TV timeout. It's great to have the football fans share in our ceremony."
Zanetta opened the match with a dominating performance in the 125-pound bout, a 9-0 major decision against Edinboro's Kory Mines.
"I was a little surprised by the margin of victory," said Pitt coach Rande Stottlemyer, referring to the fact that the previous two matches against Edinboro went down to the final bout. "It's always nice to get that first win. Zanetta got us off to a great start with a dominating performance."
But the most significant bout of the match was the one that followed Zanetta's victory. Sheldon Mack, a sophomore ranked No. 24 in the country at 133 pounds, registered a 5-3 win against Edinboro's A.J. Schopp, who was ranked No. 7.
"Sheldon's victory was huge," Stottlemyer said. "He lost to Schopp [1-0] in the Buffalo Open at the start of the season and was able to avenge that loss tonight."
Edinboro (9-3) picked up the first of its three bout victories with Mitchell Port's 2-0 decision of Travis Shaffer at 141 pounds.
Pitt (14-1) responded with wins in the next five bouts to clinch the victory. Senior Tyler Nauman began the rally with a 6-5 victory at 149 against Dave Habat. Nauman scored the deciding takedown with 15 seconds left.
Tasser, Tyler Wilps, Ethan Headlee and Andy Vaughan also had victories for the Panthers in the rally.
Wilps, a Chartiers Valley High School graduate, posted a 14-4 win against Jesse Swink, a Connellsville grad, at 165. Headlee, a Waynesburg graduate, clinched the team victory with a pin at 2:51 in the 174-pound bout against Chris Hrunka.
"It's my last home match at Pitt," Headlee said. "It felt great to go out there and get a pin on senior night. It's something I will never forget."
Vaughan, a Central Catholic grad, posted a 9-3 win at 184 against Vic Avery.
Edinboro's Chris Honeycutt and Ernest James won the final two bouts. Honeycutt, ranked No. 1 in the country, recorded an 11-5 win against Matt Wilps, a Chartiers Valley grad who is ranked No. 5.