Penn State wrestling gets best of Pitt again
Penn State junior Morgan McIntosh made it his mission to avoid overtime in his 197-pound wrestling bout with Pitt’s Nick Bonaccorsi on Friday night. Not only did McIntosh accomplish that, but he also recorded the biggest victory of the night.
McIntosh’s second-period pin of Bonaccorsi, in a matchup of top-10 wrestlers, secured No. 5 Penn State’s 24-12 victory over No. 12 Pitt at Petersen Events Center and pushed the Nittany Lions’ winning streak over their rivals to five straight matches.
“I wrestled the kid twice last year, and both matches went into overtime,” McIntosh said. “I know I have a lot more that I can put out there. I wanted to score early … and score bonus points.”
The six team points McIntosh earned pushed the lead from two points to eight, making it impossible for Pitt to win.
“The turning point where you knew it was done was at (197) with the pin,” Pitt coach Jason Peters said. “We’ve had an overtime bout with that guy a number of times. This time he spread the gap and pinned him.”
Pitt (3-2) and Penn State (2-0) met in a different location for the fourth consecutive season. The Panthers hosted a match at Petersen Events Center for the first time since 2008 and set a program single-match record by drawing 7,103 fans.
Last year’s match between the teams drew an NCAA-record crowd of 15,996 to Bryce Jordan Center.
“Wrestling at the BJC and then here were awesome matches,” McIntosh said. “I hope we can keep that up in years to come.”
Pitt won just two bouts in last season’s 28-9 loss. The Panthers won four Friday, but McIntosh’s pin and major decisions by Jimmy Gulibon, Matt Brown and Jon Gingrich tilted the match in the Nittany Lions’ favor.
“They outwrestled us a little bit, and it showed on the scoreboard,” Peters said. “Hats off to them.”
Penn State’s six nationally ranked wrestlers won. The four-time defending NCAA champion Nittany Lions started four freshmen.
“Our guys are right there, and it’s just little things,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said. “It’s the same thing most freshmen struggle with: finishing our shots and getting off the bottom. Tonight, we didn’t really have a problem getting off the bottom.”
Penn State took a 7-0 lead when Jordan Conaway beat Dom Forys by decision at 125 pounds and Jimmy Gulibon beat Pitt’s Nick Zanetta at 133.
The Panthers’ Edgar Bright made it 7-3, scoring a decision over Kade Moss at 141.
After Penn State’s Zack Beitz beat Mikey Racciato at 149 pounds, Pitt won two straight — Ronnie Garbinsky at 157 pounds and Cody Wiercioch at 165 — to cut the deficit to 10-9.
Brown scored a major decision at 174. The Panthers cut the deficit to 14-12 when Max Thomusseit defeated Matt McCutcheon at 184 pounds, but McIntosh’s pin and Gingrich’s major decision ended the night.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t beat Penn State,” Garbinsky said, “and it’s going to fuel us the rest of the year and motivate us to get out there and wrestle hard.”