Pitt’s wrestling team, No. 13 in the NCAA Division I rankings, will face its stiffest test of the season at 2 p.m. Sunday when No. 5 Oklahoma State visits Fitzgerald Field House.
The Panthers are 8-1 with their only loss coming to top-ranked Penn State. The Cowboys are 3-3 with losses to Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Iowa.
“We wrestled at Oklahoma State last year,” said Tyler Wilps, a 174-pound redshirt junior for the Panthers. “We got a chance to tour through the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, which is located on the [Stillwater] campus. It was great to see how our sport has evolved over the years.”
Wilps and his teammates are looking forward to the rematch with the Cowboys.
“I get another chance to wrestle Mark Perry,” said Wilps, referring to an Oklahoma State senior who is the defending NCAA champion. “I wrestled him at the Southern Scuffle over the break [New Year’s Day] and he beat me, 2-1. His 1:10 of riding time was the difference.”
Wilps is ranked No. 8 with a 16-4 record. Perry is ranked No. 2 with a 13-1 record. “I’m really looking forward to the rematch,” Wilps said. “I know I can beat him. I just have to wrestle my best match.”
Wilps is the third member of his family to wrestle at Pitt. His father, Jeff, was a member of legendary coach Rande Stottlemyer’s first team. His older brother Matt graduated in 2013 and was hired as a member of the coaching staff when Stottlemyer retired. And Tyler is not the last.
“My younger brother Noah [a senior at Chartiers Valley] has signed for next year,” Wilps said. “Our family certainly has ties to Pitt wrestling. I’m excited to have him on the team next year.”
Jason Peters is making his debut as Panthers head coach after 10 years as an assistant.
“The transition from coach Stottlemyer to coach Peters has gone very smooth. Coach Stottlemyer groomed him for the job over the past few years, so very little has changed,” Wilps said.
And having his brother Matt as a coach instead of a teammate is no different. “I’m used to working out with him,” Wilps said. “He’s just a figurehead now.”
Wilps is joined in the starting lineup by three other wrestlers from the WPIAL. Keystone Oaks graduate Anthony Zanetta, a redshirt senior, takes an 11-4 record into the 125-pound bout against No. 17 Eddie Klimara (7-6). Bethel Park grad Nick Bonaccorsi (11-7), a redshirt sophomore ranked No. 19, is matched up against No. 12 Blake Rosholt (9-6). Belle Vernon graduate P.J. Tasser, a redshirt senior, takes an 11-5 record into his heavyweight match against No. 14 Austin Marsden (11-5).