PSU's only had one dual on the year, but the Panthers are already 3-1 on the season, having just lost to the Lehigh Mountainhawks--the very team that Penn State beat less than two weeks ago. Pitt was number 11 going into that meet, but have fallen after that tough 19-12 loss; the Lehigh dual result was even more surprising, as the Panthers had just 9 days earlier beaten then-number 10 Edinboro, at Edinboro (they've also taken on, and beaten, Bloomsburg and Bucknell).
Onto the matchups!
#12 Jordan Conaway vs. FR Dom Forys (Pittsburgh, PA/North Allegheny)
Conaway is 1-0 on the year, and will take on Forys--who comes to Pitt having not placed in the top three last year at his weight class in the WPIAL Class AAA championships. I like Jordan here, pretty big, proving why Nico can take his shirt--especially because he took down Lehigh's Parker more easily than the score indicated, and Parker handled Forys with ease.
Line: Conaway by MD
#5 Jimmy Gulibon vs. FR Nick Zanetta (Pittsburgh, PA/Keystone Oaks) OR FR Ben Ross (Pipersville, PA/Pennridge)
Jimmy surprised most two weeks ago (myself included) when he took down the #2 wrestler in this weight class, Lehigh's returning all-American Mason Beckman, pretty handily. Whichever opponent he faces is likely overmatched; Zanetta comes in 2-2 on the year, while Ross is winless. Lehigh's Beckman almost made it two losses in a row, narrowly escaping with a victory over Zanetta last week--but Jimmy shouldn't have that issue. Zanetta's older brother was beaten by Nico last year, and he'll be taken down by Jimmy this year--and I love Jimmy's fire, it'll be big.
Line: Jimmy by MD
Kade Moss OR Michael Waters vs. SR Travis Shaffer (Derry, PA/Derry)
Moss is 3-1 on the year, but 0-1 in Penn State duals after losing versus Lehigh. Waters is 5-1, wrestling unaffiliated so far this season. Moss lost to Cruz of Lehigh; so did Shaffer, both with around the same score. I expect Kade to get the start again, and this one, much like the last dual, is a toss up.
Line: Pick 'Em
149 LBS - Match of the Meet #1
#15 Zack Beitz vs. #13 SO Mikey Racciato (Pen Argyl, PA/Pen Argyl)
Beitz picked up his first win of the year in the Lehigh dual, and lost the "or" with Luke Frey; his bout with Longo of Lehigh wasn't as close as the final score indicated, as he was oh so close to a turn multiple times. Racciato also had a close win over Longo in their meetup, but it wasn't low scoring; with a different style of wrestling, he fought it out with the Hawk to a 11-9 regular decision. For some reason...I like Zack here. I don't know why, just his style gets me. I'm going out on a limb, not picking the traditional pick 'em and going with Beitz--despite the fact that Racciato pinned James English last year (this year's different, he's only had one bonus point match in four tries). I think Zack gets him this year, and gets team revenge.*
Line: Zack by D
Cody Law vs. JR Ronnie Garbinsky (Tyrone, PA/Tyrone) OR JR Eric Nutter (Pittsburgh, PA/Central Catholic)
Though the match notes still list Dylan Alton (#10 in this class) as an "or" here, he's likely still being held out all this month. Law is 4-2 on the year, but 0-1 in duals, having lost to Lehigh's surprise entry here, Dylan Milonas. No more Sheptock for Pitt, and I think Cael and Co will get on Law for his struggles in the last dual; he was ridden out by Milonas, and lost a close, low-scoring bout. Garbinsky was majored by Milonas, so I think Law gets it done here.
Line: Law by D
Garett Hammond vs. FR Cody Wiercioch (Muse, PA/Canon-McMillan) OR SR Troy Reaghard (Oakdale, PA/West Allegheny)
Hammond will be super exciting to watch this year, if the match over Lehigh's Martinez is any indication. He's 7-0 so far on the season, 1-0 in duals. Expect more of the same this week. He'll come out on fire; maybe not Magic Man-type fire, but it'll be scores upon scores.
Line: Hammond by MD
174 LBS - Match of the Meet #2
#3 Matt Brown vs. #5 SR Tyler Wilps (Oakdale, PA/Chartiers Valley)
Brown came into the first dual pissed, and it showed when he got the lone pin of the first week--something even I didn't expect, but of which Ed Ruth should be proud. Wilps hasn't wrestled so far this year, coming in to this dual his first back off an injury; he's rated high this year after an All-American season last year, but he hasn't fared well against Penn Staters. Last year he nearly got majored by Brown at the BJC, and he got manhandled in 2012 at 165 versus David Taylor (but then, who didn't?). If this is your first match back, why would you want to face Hulk Hands?
Line: Hulk Hands by D
#19 Matt McCutcheon vs. #4 SR Max Thomusseit (St. Paris, OH)
McCutcheon got majored by Lehigh's Brown two weeks ago, but followed it up with a strong showing in East Stroudsburg and is now ranked for his efforts. He's 5-2 on the year, 0-1 in duals. Despite that, and beating the then-#3 ranked wrestler in the tourney...Thomusseit is just really good. Lehigh's Nate Brown majored McCutcheon a few weeks ago, and Max just beat him. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but I don't see this one coming out in Matt's favor.
Line: Thomusseit by D
197 LBS - Match of the Meet #3
#4 Morgan McIntosh vs. #10 JR Nick Bonaccorsi (Bethel Park, PA/Bethel Park) OR FR Ryan Solomon
Morgan's win two weeks ago was ugly, ugly, ugly--but it was a win. Much like this weight in dual last year (but on the other side), if Pitt needs him Bonaccorsi (undefeated on the season) will likely wrestle--but if it's out of control Solomon, who hasn't wrestled at all this year, will probably get the nod. Selfishly, I'm hoping it's Bonaccorsi because I still want to see what Morg can do--I've been longing to see him really turn it on, and live up to his potential, for a while now. Both he and Bonaccorsi had low scoring, close decisions over Riddick of Lehigh--similar to last year's McIntosh win over Nick, when the shoulder was still massively taped up.
Line: Pick 'Em
#7 Jon Gingrich OR Jimmy Lawson vs. SO John Rizzo (Johnstown, PA/Temple)
...And then there were two. Two weeks ago, Nick Ruggear was still listed as an "or" here, but no longer--it's down to Jon (who got the nod, and the decisive win, against Lehigh) and Jimmy, who's yet to wrestle this year. I'm expecting Jon to go again Friday, and to handle Rizzo--who took Lehigh's Vollaro to extra time last week, but lost. Jon, of course, scored a quick takedown against the Mountain Hawk and was able to win fairly easily for a bear.
Line: Jon by D
Overall vs Pitt
One Pitt decision, two Pick 'Ems, three PSU major decisions, and four PSU decisions... Yeah, I'm thinking it's bigger than Lehigh. That brings it to...PSU 27, Pitt 6
*this is my obligatory homer pick