Four Virginia wrestlers earn bids to the NCAA Championships

Junior Jack Mueller claims the ACC Championship at 125 pounds

sp-muellerwinsacc

Junior Jack Mueller won his first ACC Championship Saturday in Blacksburg. 

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After finishing the regular season with a 12-10 record overall and going 1-4 in conference play, the Virginia wrestling team travelled to Blacksburg Saturday to compete in the ACC Championships. 

Of the 10 wrestlers Virginia sent to Cassell Coliseum, four secured automatic bids to the upcoming NCAA Championships. 

Junior Jack Mueller, the first seed at 125 pounds, continued his undefeated season with back-to-back major decisions in the semi-finals and finals of his weight class. Mueller began his day with a 13-3 win over North Carolina freshman Joel Heilmann and proceeded to cruise in the finals 10-2 against N.C. State redshirt senior Sean Fausz. 

Mueller’s  win in the final round secured the Dallas native his first ACC Championship. He will now look to perform well at the NCAA Championships in an extremely top-heavy division. 

“Jack was the story of the day for us,” Coach Steve Garland said. “He’s such a competitor. We need more of that right now.”

At 197 pounds, second-seeded sophomore Jay Aiello advanced to the finals after his 7-5 decision over Duke senior Alec Schenk. By virtue of reaching the finals, Aiello earned a bid to the NCAA Championships. Aiello fell in the final round to third-seeded senior Malik McDonald of North Carolina State.

“Jay didn’t have a great finals, but he will learn from this and I know he can do damage at the NCAA Championships in a couple of weeks,” Garland said.

Due to their appearances in the finals of their respective weight class, Mueller and Aiello both earned All-ACC honors.  

Second-seeded redshirt freshman Cam Coy also earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships after finishing in the top four at 165 pounds. After falling in the semi-finals, Coy claimed an 11-7 decision in the consolation semifinals, sending him to the third-place match and locking up a bid. Coy dropped a major decision in his final battle of the day to Duke senior Zach Finesilver. 

Senior Will Schany joined Mueller, Coy and Aiello to earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships by placing fifth at 184 pounds. The sixth-seeded Nebraska native dropped two consecutive bouts to N.C. State sophomore Nick Reenan and North Carolina senior Chip Ness, who are ranked fourth and 15th nationally. However, Schany posted a dominant win against Duke sophomore Kaden Russell in the fifth-place match to lock up a bid to the NCAA Championships. 

Aiello and Coy will both be making their first appearance at the NCAA Championships later this month. Schany, on the other hand, qualified for the second consecutive year, while Mueller will be competing for a national title for the third time. 

“We have four through to the NCAAs, but we hope to get a couple more at large bids. Now our focus is Pittsburgh,” Garland said. 

Virginia’s wrestlers will next compete in the NCAA Championships which will be held at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa., March 21 to 23. 

related stories