No. 23 wrestling narrowly loses to No. 15 Pittsburgh in regular season finale

The Cavaliers fall to the Panthers in final home game of the season

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Junior Jack Mueller remained undefeated after picking up a crucial technical fall. 

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After falling to in-state rival No. 14 Virginia Tech last weekend, the No. 23 Virginia wrestling team hoped to bounce back against No. 15 Pittsburgh Friday night at Memorial Gymnasium.

While they competed well, the Cavaliers (12-10, 1-4 ACC) couldn’t ultimately defeat the Panthers (13-3, 3-2 ACC) who secured their fifth victory in a row. 

The two teams split the first four weight classes before the Panthers won four of the last six bouts to secure the dual victory 20-15. 

With the dual starting at 184 pounds, Pittsburgh took an early 4-0 lead with redshirt freshman Nino Bonaccorsi — the 11th-ranked wrestler in his weight class — picking up a major decision over redshirt senior Will Schany. 

Virginia responded with a win courtesy of redshirt sophomore and 10th-ranked Jay Aiello’s low-scoring decision. With the win, Aiello moved to 22-5 on the season as he continues to impress.

At heavyweight, Pittsburgh extended its lead to 8-3 with junior Demetrius Thomas’s major decision. While Virginia redshirt junior Tyler Love wrestled valiantly, Thomas’s size advantage was too big an obstacle to overcome. 

Junior Jack Mueller tied up the overall score with a dominant performance at 125 pounds. Virginia’s undefeated standout and the fifth-ranked wrestler in the country fought for the pin but had to settle for a technical fall.

The Panthers regained the lead with back-to-back decisions at 133 and 141 pounds before the teams traded wins at 149 and 157 pounds. Then, with two weight classes to go, Virginia redshirt freshman Cam Coy delivered a major decision to cut the deficit to just two. 

With all to play for in the final weight class, Virginia freshman Robby Patrick faced Pittsburgh redshirt sophomore Gregg Harvey in a bout that took six extra periods. Finally, in the second round of tiebreaks, Harvey was able to pick up a tight 3-2 win to give Pittsburgh the dual victory. 

All four of the Panthers’ nationally-ranked wrestlers — Bonaccorsi, Thomas, redshirt freshman Micky Phillippi and redshirt junior Taleb Rahmani — won their respective weight classes in addition to Harvey and senior LJ Bentley.

For Virginia, Mueller and Coy produced bonus-point victories, while Aiello and redshirt sophomore Michael Murphy posted decisions of their own.  

With the regular season done and dusted, Virginia will next travel to Blacksburg March 9 to compete in the ACC Championships at Cassell Coliseum. 

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