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Hailing from the University of Pitt, Micky Phillippi was named first team All-American, one of two on his team to receive such honors in the abbreviated 2020 wrestling season. Phillippi ended the season at 25-1 with wins over Reece Witcraft, Noah Gonser, and Travis Piotrowski amongst others. Phillippi had a fantastic season that was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Being named All-American was a bittersweet thing for Phillippi. While he is grateful, he wishes he and his team could have seen the year out with the tournament.
“It feels it feels kind of weird. I mean, it’s a little different, not orthodox for sure, becoming one. I’m fortunate to have that honor. We set ourselves up during the season to be in that position. So it’s cool and I’m honored to have it, it’s just a very different way of getting it.”
Outside of wrestling, Phillippi dedicates his time to being stronger, not just for wrestling, but because he loves it. He’s still a college student and has classes to attend. He’s also picked up video games during the quarantine to pass some time while stuck in the house.
“I feel like it’s cliche to say as an athlete, but I do really like to work out. That’s kind of fun for me. I like working out. I’ve been doing these online classes too. They’re like, basically just Facebook Lives. My hometown has a little wrestling club in it and I’m helping out, doing running some workouts, just a little quick hit workouts for kids and they enjoy it. So I’m doing that. During this time, I decided to start playing a video games little bit. A couple of my buddies on my team and some of my friends all play Warzone and it’s pretty fun.”
The genesis of Micky Phillippi’s wrestling career wasn’t paved through a family’s work in wrestling. His brother did some in high school, but Micky Phillippi trailblazed his own way through the sport. Phillippi hails from Derry, Pennsylvania. Derry and surrounding areas have produced some of the best wrestlers today. Phillippi credits this over abundance of talent to some of his success as well.
“It was different for me because no one in my family actually wrestled. My brother wrestle in high school, but other than that, no one really wrestled. It was just something that I really wanted to do. So I jumped in and fell into it love right away. My area is extremely like rich in wrestling. A lot of people from my area have been very successful. I mean Spencer Lee’s from here. Vincenzo Joseph, Luke Pletcher. Jason Knowles, like all these guys within the same clubs. I want to I think that’s what really made me want to be good at it and stick with it. But I guess the real reason of getting into it was my high school having good wrestling also. I mean, Jimmy Vaughn came out of my high school who was a four time state champion and wrestled for Penn State and was an All-American there. Then a couple other guys, Troy Dolan wrestled three times champ, wrestled in Missouri. There’s a lot of really good wrestling in my area. And it just made me want to do it.”
Micky Phillippi And Recent Success
As for his recent success, Phillippi gives the credit to momentum. He says it’s the key to winning. If you’re going out there having fun and keeping the pressure to a minimum, says Micky Phillippi, you’ll do just fine. And fine he did in the 2020 season.
“I think it’s just that once you start winning, it’s like the most like contagious. You really want to keep doing it. I don’t know how to explain it. So I guess I just went out there and was confident myself and every match I expected to win and whenever you expect to win it’s easier. Whenever you’re not out there like just trying not to lose, you’re out having fun with it and it makes it easier. I had a fun last year and I was confident myself and in my abilities and my coaches. I feel like I have the best coaching staff in the country and they really, really helped me out over the summer pushing me and critiquing some areas that I really needed to work on.”
From Virginia to Pitt
Phillippi started his collegiate career at Virginia. After that season he decided to make a change and transfer to Pitt. The move proved a wise one with hindsight being 20/20. Since arriving, Micky Phillippi has gone 63-8, an 88.7 win percentage. He says the move is also behind part of his success.
“So for me the move was just good because I I needed I needed to get back home, really. I felt like Pitt was where I could succeed. That put me in the right mental state and Pitt’s only 45 minutes from my hometown, so that’s very helpful. I just felt like I needed a change. Something was off and I wasn’t mentally in the right state. So I made the move. Since then, I’ve been doing the right things and we’ve been making big leaps and I feel like I feel like it’s a good place to be.”
Phillippi’s eyes remain on target. While his season was derailed because of the pandemic, he knows next year he will have that same opportunity. Until then, he continues to work hard to achieve that goal. He will continue to rely on his coaching staff and teammates to be the best version of himself he can be.
“I want to win a National Title. I’ve jumped to that since I was a kid. I think a lot of guys from my area all just grew up together, and a lot of people have had success. All-American is cool but I want to win a national title. I was going to that tournament expecting to win. I was confident in myself that I can win and just put it all together at the right time. Next year, I’m just going to go out there and try to have some fun and have a good season. Hopefully the guys on the team can all come together and get a trophy as a team because that’d be really cool. I think the sky’s the limit. I have aspirations to do the best I can in this sport. Wherever it takes me I’d like to compete internationally afterwards. Definitely would be something I’m looking into.”
On the same topic, Phillippi sees how it’s affected his peers. Many seniors had their wrestling careers ended abruptly. While he’s disappointed to not get his shot in the tournament this year, he knows he still has the option that others do not.
“It was a it was very disappointing. When we found out we were all pretty upset. I mean, you have guys that it ends their career, not only their seasons. You have guys crying. It’s it was extremely disappointing, but at the same time, it’s like I feel like look at the bigger picture. I take this for what I can and, this is teaching us things that we’ve never been able to be taught before. It’s just like taking advantage of opportunities you have and don’t take them for granted because you never know if it could be taken away. Who would have thought this would happen? It’s tough to see. A lot of people have aspirations, a lot of people want to be National Champs, want to be All-Americans and to see that be taken away from people it sucks. But like I said, it’s there’s a bigger picture. God has a plan. So now, I’m just confident that in that.”
Other Martial Arts
Phillippi also does Jiu Jitsu. He has an advantage up on most beginners with his wrestling background. He laughingly states while he holds his own, submitting someone is still a challenge for him.
“It definitely, definitely beneficial. I’m able to hang with a lot of people but the problem is like, it’s hard to submit people. I can hang with them and wear them down but to actually submit them it’s not enough. Every once in a while I’ll catch them and something was right.”
The season may be through, Micky Phillippi will be back on the mat for Pitt next season. He will make his run at the tournament and take his chance at becoming a National Champion. Follow Phillippi on Instagram and Twitter to follow his wrestling journey.