Pitt recruits forming bond at Powerade Tournament

Wednesday, December 29, 2021 | 9:33 PM

As Mac Stout walked off the mat after recording a fall at the 55th Powerade Wrestling tournament, he was greeted by his brothers, Luke and Kellen.

After he took a few more steps, he fist-bumped Mt. Pleasant senior Dayton Pitzer.

Stout and Pitzer, along with Hempfield’s Briar Priest, Latrobe’s Jack Pletcher and Connellsville’s Jared Keslar, are part of the 2021-22 Pitt recruiting class.

Not only are the five recruits rooting for their high school teammates and competitors, they’re rooting for their future Panthers teammates.

The Powerade tournament also gives the future Panthers a chance to see how they stack up against some of the top wrestlers in the country.

After Day 1 of the tournament, all five are still in the running for Powerade medals. Priest (138 pounds), Stout (189) and Pitzer (215) are chasing gold.

The tournament featured some of the top teams in the country: Blair Academy (N.J.), Wyoming Seminary, St. Edwards (Ohio), Malvern Prep, Bergen Catholic (N.J.), Notre Dame-Green Pond and Waynesburg.

“It’s a pretty special bond we have,” Stout said. “Sometimes it takes a while to build a bond in college, but us being from the WPIAL, we get a chance to start early. We’re going to be brothers for the next few years.”

Stout opened the tournament with two pins at 189 pounds. He then defeated Quaker Valley senior Patrick Cutchember, 15-5, in the quarterfinals.

“Dayton and I warmed up together,” Stout said. “We check up on each other during the season. I’ll be rooting for him in his matches.”

Pitzer started with two pins, both under a minute. He then pinned Chartiers Valley senior Josh Sarasnick in the 215-pound quarterfinals in 37 seconds, giving the two-time WPIAL and PIAA Class 2A champion his 100th career win.

“I’m definitely rooting for my future teammates,” Pitzer said. “Mac and I will be practice partners the next few seasons. It’s great to have support from your teammates. We’re all friends because we’ve been wrestling together for a while.

“We all communicate with each other during the season. We kind of know when someone does well at a tournament.”

Keslar began his day with a pin of Waynesburg’s Nate Kirby. He followed that with a heart-pumping 3-1 overtime win against St. Joseph Regional’s (N.J.) Roberto Padilla. Keslar nearly was taken down in overtime by Padilla but somehow kept his balance and was able to get Padilla down to the mat for the winning takedown.

“That was wild,” Keslar said. “I don’t know how I did that.”

Keslar said getting a chance to watch his future teammates is special. He said when they do talk, it’s not always about wrestling.

He came up short in the quarterfinals as Blair Academy’s Lorenzo Norman pinned him in the second period.

“We’ll talk about different opponents,” Keslar said. “But we also talk other things. It’s pretty cool, especially because we’re all from the WPIAL.”

Priest started his day with a 5-0 win against Max Stein of Faith Christian Academy. He followed that with a pin of Bergen Catholic’s Caden Temple. He then blanked St. Vincent-St. Mary’s (Ohio) Elliot Alessia, 7-0, in the quarterfinals.

Pletcher stumbled in the Round of 16. He started with a 15-3 major decision win against Canon-McMillan’s Ashton Slavick but fell to West Allegheny’s Nico Taddy, 8-2, at 152.

He rebounded to win two consolation matches to stay alive for a medal. He defeated Williamsport’s Carter Weaver, 9-3, and then edged Erie Prep’s Kaemen Smith, 6-4.

Another Pitt commit (from the 2022-23 class) also advanced to the quarterfinals. Laurel junior Grant MacKay, a returning Class 2A PIAA champion, had a pin and a 21-8 major decision. MacKay then defaulted to Holden Garcia of Notre Dame-Green Pond. MacKay was the No. 1 seed at 160.

No matter how things turn out this week and down the road in a couple months, the future of Pitt wrestling looks bright.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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