Former Bethel Park student reaches wrestling summit


Pitt Athletics

Nino Bonaccorsi gets his hand raised after claiming the 197lb title at the 2023 National Championships in Tulsa, Ok.

Bethel Park reached the top of the wrestling mountain recently.

Nino Bonaccorsi, a 2017 graduate of Bethel Park, defeated South Dakota State wrestler Tanner Sloan to win his first national championship. Bonaccorsi now stands as Pitt’s first individual national champion since the team’s current head coach, Keith Gavin, won his own in 2008.

Bonaccorsi also takes the honor of being the first Bethel Park alum to win a national championship.

“It means so much to me. Bethel Park, let alone the WPIAL, is a hotbed area of wrestling. Being able to add to the tremendous amount of success wrestlers have brought from this area makes me feel honored,” he said.

In addition, he posted a perfect season. He enters the history books as just the sixth Pitt wrestler to ever have an undefeated season and walk home with a national championship title. Once again, the first to do it since Keith Gavin in ’08.

Bonaccorsi pulled off the victory in dramatic fashion. He fell down 3-0 early on following a takedown and escape by Sloan.

Nino kept his composure, though.

“I have so much confidence in my ability to wear guys down within a seven-minute match,” he said.

Bonaccorsi worked his way back with a takedown in the second period and gained the riding time advantage. Down 3-2 in the third, Bonnacorsi worked one more takedown to make it 4-3, and the ride-out to win the championship. Final score: 5-3. A dream comes true.

When the clock ticked from 15 to 14 seconds. It started to hit me. To have your dream from when you were five to six years old finally coming to full fruition right in front of your eyes is something I can’t even describe. A huge relief knowing that I finally did it.”

Bonaccorsi worked especially hard to reach this milestone after the heartbreak of losing in the finals of the 2021 national championships in St. Louis.

It’s a perfect ending to my story.

— Nino Bonaccorsi

“It’s a perfect ending to my story,” he added, “I think a lot of people counted me out to never win a title. But my consistency and work ethic is unmatched, and it makes me proud to know that I proved everyone wrong and ended my career as an undefeated national champion.”

Nino Bonaccorsi, while he may be finished wrestling at Pitt, will be remembered in the area for a long time. Bonaccorsi does plan to stay involved in wrestling, he mentioned, saying that it would be unjust to not give back in some capacity.

He leaves with this piece of advice for youth wrestlers.

“To stay the course and stay consistent. So often guys begin to check the boxes in practice or workouts. If you can truly give everything you have to a workout and try to get 1% better every day, you will see huge gains. Regardless of what you’ve done in your past, the only thing that matters is what is next.”

Since winning the title, Nino has been on a victory tour. He’s been interviewed by a variety of news media. Millie’s named an ice cream flavor after him and Given To Fly Pittsburgh named a chicken sandwich after him. His face is seen on billboards throughout the city and congratulatory messages are written on the signs of local businesses like Eat N’ Park. You can purchase official Nino “The Champ” T-shirts by clicking here.