A sellout crowd of 3,247 fans packed Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House to see the Panthers wrestling team take on two-time NCAA Division I champion Penn State.
"They are loaded," said Pitt coach Rande Stottlemyer after watching the No. 3 Nittany Lions dominate the No. 15 Panthers, 31-7, Friday night. "Obviously, they have a lot of studs out there, but we wrestled hard. We went out and swung the bat hard, but lost to a pretty good team."
Penn State won eight of the 10 bouts, including the feature bout at 197. Pitt's Matt Wilps, a Chartiers Valley graduate ranked No. 2 in Division I, faced Penn State's Quentin Wright, a returning NCAA champion ranked No. 3.
The two met at the start of the season at the All-Star Classic and Wilps recorded a pin late in the third period. The rematch was just the opposite, as Wright caught Wilps in a figure-four headlock and pinned him at 2:43.
"He locked up my head with his legs and it was pretty tight," Wilps said. "I faced him at the beginning of the year at the All-Star Classic at American University. I pinned him there, and he returned the favor today. I'm hoping to see him again at nationals."
Stottlemyer obviously was surprised with the pin.
"I certainly wasn't expecting that," Stottlemyer said. "That just doesn't happen to Matt. You've got to give Wright credit. He will learn from it."
Penn State coach Cael Sanderson was not surprised.
"The last time they wrestled, it was a similar match," Sanderson said. "Both are very good at scrambling and both are confident in their scrambling. They definitely throw caution to the wind to try and score points."
A group of close to 150 came to see Nittany Lions sophomore Nico Megaludis, a Franklin Regional graduate who is ranked No. 2 in Division I at 125. Unfortunately, they only saw Megaludis step to the mat to accept a forfeit.
"My parents bought 30 tickets and Franklin Regional bought 100 tickets," said Megaludis, who improved his record to 18-2. "It's a bummer, to have all my friends and family here and not get to wrestle."
Jordan Conaway gave Penn State a 9-0 lead with a 5-3 overtime upset of Pitt's Shelton Mack, who is ranked No. 16 at 133 pounds. Conaway received two penalty points for stalling calls on Mack in the third period, then scored the deciding takedown with 24 seconds left in the sudden victory period.
Pitt's first victory came at 141, as Derry graduate Travis Shaffer dominated Penn State's Derek Reber, 14-2. The Panthers' other win came at heayweight, as Zac Thomusseit posted a 5-4 victory against Jimmy Lawson.
Both coaches were pleased with the sellout crowd.
"Our guys are wrestling an exciting style and are fun to watch, so we tend to get good crowds on the road," Sanderson said. "It's great for Pitt to sell out the match. It's a great atmosphere at the field house. It's the perfect size for wrestling. This place has a lot of great wrestling tradition with Pitt and the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic."
Pitt's lineup included five wrestlers from the WPIAL. Wilps' brother, Tyler, was defeated, 20-6, by Penn State's David Taylor at 165. Belle Vernon's Tasser brothers also wrestle for Pitt. Donnie Tasser dropped a 7-3 decision to Dylan Alton at 157 and P.J. Tasser lost, 10-4, to Matt Brown at 174.