UNC’s O’Connor and Pitt’s Bonaccorsi reach NCAA Finals
History Links TULSA, Okla. (theACC.com) – North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor and Pitt’s Nino Bonaccorsi have reached the final of the 2023 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and will go for the national titles in Saturday night’s championship round at BOK Center.
O’Connor (22-0) will face Penn State’s second seed Levi Haines (24-1) for the gold medal at 157 pounds. O’Connor will be looking for his second NCAA wrestling title and his first at 157 after winning at 149 pounds in St. Louis in 2021.
Bonaccorsi (20-0) will meet South Dakota State’s No. 7 seed Tanner Sloan (27-2) for the 197-pound title. The Pitt eldest will make his second trip to the NCAA Finals after winning silver in 2021. Bonaccorsi is looking to become the Panthers’ first NCAA champion since current head coach Keith Gavin won at 174 pounds in 2008.
ACC wrestlers have won NCAA individual titles 20 times, with O’Connor’s two years ago being the most recent.
Saturday night’s finals begin at 7 p.m. ET and will be nationally televised by ESPN.
Both O’Connor and Bonaccorsi are the No. 1 seeds in their respective weight classes. O’Connor clinched his ticket to Saturday night’s final with a 4-3 win over No. 5 seed Josh Humphreys of Lehigh in Friday night’s 157 semifinal. Bonaccorsi beat Rider’s No. 4 Ethan Laird 10-4 in their semi-final match.
Two other highly ranked ACC wrestlers — Virginia Tech No. 3 Mekhi Lewis at 174 pounds and NC State No. 2 Trent Hidlay at 184 — have reached the semifinals in their weight classes. respective weights before failing in a pair of hard-fought games against Nebraska. Penn State’s Mikey Labriola and Aaron Brooks. They will return to competition on Saturday in hopes of securing bronze medals.
O’Connor Bonaccorsi, Lewis and Hidlay are among 12 ACC wrestlers who have earned All-America honors (top eight in their respective weight classes). The other eight will join Lewis and Hidlay in the consolation rounds on Saturday, which begin at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU to determine places 3-8.
The 2023 ACC NCAA Division I Wrestling All-Americans and their weight classes.
125 – Eddie Ventresca, Virginia Tech
133 – Kai Orine, North Carolina State
133 – Sam Latone, Virginia Tech
141 – Lachlan McNeil, North Carolina
149 – Caleb Henson, Virginia Tech
157 – Austin O’Connor, North Carolina (runner-up)
157 – Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech
157 – Ed Scott, North Carolina State
174 – Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
184 – Trent Hidlay, NC State
184 – Gavin Kane, North Carolina
197 – Nino Bonaccorsi, Pitt (finalist)
The 12 ACC wrestlers who achieved All-America status in 2023 matches the league total in 2021 for the most all-time through direct competition. The NWCA designated 14 ACC wrestlers as All-Americans when the 2020 NCAA Championships were canceled due to COVID-19, but the most earned on the mat during the championship weekend before this 2021 was 11 in 2016.
Defending champion Penn State leads the team standings heading into Saturday’s final rounds with 116.5 team points, well ahead of second-place Iowa (77). NC State is in ninth place with 41.5 points, followed closely by 10th-place Virginia Tech (40.5) and 12th-place North Carolina (34.5).
ACC team scores and standings, along with details for each of the ACC’s six wrestling programs are as follows:
9. NC State – 41.5
(See here for the Wolfpack Day 2 recap)
10. Virginia Tech – 40.5
(See here for Day 2 Hokies recap)
12. North Carolina – 34.5
(See here for the Day 2 Panthers recap)
21. Pitt – 23.0
(See here for the Tar Heel Day 2 recap)
48. Virginia – 4.5
(See here for Day 2 rider recap)
56. Duke – 0.5
(See here for the Blue Devil Day 2 recap)