No. 13 Panthers edge No. 5 Oklahoma State in wrestling showdown

Showdown against Cowboys decided in thrilling fashion


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Oklahoma State is the most storied wrestling program in NCAA history, with a record 34 national titles.

But Pitt redshirt junior Max Thomusseit wanted his teammates to know that the Cowboys' past glory didn't mean anything Sunday.

"[Thomusseit] was telling us, 'Yeah, they have a great history and everything, but live in the present. We can beat them,' " freshman Mikey Racciato said.

The No. 13 Panthers (9-1) won the final three bouts, the final victory coming on a takedown by Belle Vernon High School graduate P.J. Tasser in overtime, to rally for a 19-18 victory on criteria against the No. 5 Cowboys (4-4) before a crowd of 1,921 at Fitzgerald Field House.

"It's huge for our program and great for our guys," first-year coach Jason Peters said.

Pitt trailed, 18-9, after No. 8 Tyler Wilps lost in overtime, 5-4, to No. 2 and defending national champion Chris Perry at 174 pounds. Wilps, a junior, led by a point late in the match before he was called for stalling, awarding Perry the tying point and sending the match to overtime.

But the Panthers won three nailbiters in a row to get the victory.

At 184 pounds, sixth-ranked Thomusseit notched a late takedown to win, 8-6. No. 19 Nick Bonaccorsi, a Bethel Park graduate, edged the Panthers to within three points with a 3-1 overtime victory against Kyle Crutchmer at 197 pounds. Why Crutchmer wrestled instead of No. 12 Blake Rosholt is unclear, as Oklahoma State coach John Smith was unavailable for comment.

That put the pressure on Tasser, who was up against No. 14 Austin Marsden. Marsden beat Tasser, 6-4, at the Southern Scuffle in December.

But this time, Tasser, a redshirt senior who has wrestled five weight classes for the Panthers in his career, came out on top, taking down Marsden 16 seconds into overtime for a 3-1 victory.

"There are those moments where you really can't describe it and it feels like that," Tasser said. "I can't put it into words."

The win tied the score at 18, but the Panthers were awarded the victory due to having more pins than Oklahoma State. Racciato got the only pin of the day after the Cowboys won two of the first three matches.

No. 17 Eddie Klimara got Oklahoma State off to a fast start by beating senior Anthony Zanetta of Keystone Oaks by major decision, 15-4. No. 4 Jon Morrison followed with a 2-0 victory against No. 17 Shelton Mack at 133 pounds to give Oklahoma State an early 7-0 lead.

Freshman Edgar Bright, ranked No. 20 at 141 pounds, got the Panthers on the board with a 10-5 win against No. 12 Anthony Collica. Racciato then pulled an upset at 149 pounds, pinning No. 8 Josh Kindig in 1 minute, 23 seconds.

Kindig got the opening takedown, but Racciato reversed him and immediately put him on his back for the fall.

"We knew he could go out there and light a spark for us," Peters said. "He's never out of a match."

The fall not only gave Pitt the momentum and the lead at 9-7, it turned out to be the deciding factor in the match.

"Before the match, we talked about winning, and we were probably the only group in the area that thought we could win," Peters said. "But here we are, the match is over and we won."

Oklahoma State's Alex Dieringer (technical fall) and Tyler Caldwell (decision) got the Cowboys their other two wins at 157 and 165 pounds.


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