Dec. 4, 2011
LAS VEGAS - Pitt junior Matt Wilps placed third at the Cliff Keen Invitational on Saturday, leading the Panthers to an eighth-place finish in the 34-team event.
Wilps narrowly missed a chance to wrestle for the championship, losing in the semifinals to second-seeded Matt Powless of Indiana on a last-second takedown. Powless entered the tournament ranked fifth in the nation by WrestlingReport.com, while Wilps was just one spot behind in sixth.
A national qualifier two seasons ago before taking a redshirt last season, Wilps posted a 5-1 record in the tournament. He won his first three matches before losing in the semifinals. In the consolation bracket, he topped Drexel's Brandon Palik 7-3 to advance to the consolation finals, and finished the weekend with a 5-3 decision over Wyoming's Alfonso Hernandez.
Also placing for Pitt were Tyler Nauman (149), Anthony Zanetta (125), Ethan Headlee (174) and Tyler Wilps (165).
Nauman was the top seed in his bracket and is ranked fourth in the nation. The Pitt senior and former All-American cruised in his first two matches of the tournament before being upset by ninth-seeded David Habat, a freshman at Edinboro.
Nauman bounced back with three wins in the wrestlebacks, including a 3-0 shutout over Cornell's Craig Eifert, who is ranked seventh in the nation, to advance to the consolation finals. But, he fell to Habat again, this time 5-3, to finish fourth.
Michigan's Eric Grajales, who Nauman defeated in Pitt's dual meet with the Wolverines, beat Habat in the semifinals and won the title with an easy 9-1 win over second-seeded Cole VonOhlen of Air Force in the finals.
Zanetta and Headlee both finished seventh, while Tyler Wilps was eighth.
Zanetta, the fourth seed at 125, began Saturday with a 7-3 win over Brown's Bill Watterson before dropping a one-point decision to third-seeded Trent Sprenkle (North Dakota State). He rebounded with a close win of his own, posting a 3-1 victory in sudden victory over Cal State Bakersfield's Tyler Iwamura for seventh place. Iwamura is ranked 17th in the nation, four spots behind Zanetta.
Just like Zanetta, Headlee started the second day of the tournament in the wrestlebacks after falling in the quarterfinals the night before. He registered a major decision over West Virginia's Lance Bryson, but fell short in the consolation semifinals. Headlee clinched seventh place with a 7-0 win over Kurtis Julson (North Dakota State).
Tyler Wilps also lost in the quarterfinals on Friday night, but started the second day with a 3-1 decision over West Virginia's Kyle Eason. Following a loss in the consolation semifinals, the Pitt sophomore fell to Michigan's Dan Yates 4-2 and finished eighth.
Pitt's next opponent, Ohio State, won the tournament with 129 points, while Michigan, which the Panthers defeated in their last dual meet, took second with 116 points. Wyoming, Nebraska, Oregon State, Cornell and Edinboro rounded out the teams in front of Pitt.
Pitt will host Ohio State on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Field House. The Buckeyes are ranked seventh in the latest NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, while the Panthers are one spot behind in eighth.