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Wrestlers hope to upset 'Pack, conquer Devils

The Virginia wrestling team heads to North Carolina tonight, looking to steal a pair of ACC wins against Duke at 7:30 p.m. and North Carolina State tomorrow at 2 p.m.

The Cavaliers (2-4, 0-1 ACC), who have not posted a strong record this season, are hoping to gain momentum to carry them into the second half of the season by defeating both ACC opponents this weekend. The two dual meet matches should be a good indicator of the wide range of talent in the ACC, with Duke, a perennially weak team, and powerhouse N.C. State squaring off against Virginia.

"We've struggled a little bit this season," Virginia Coach Lenny Bernstein said. "We've gone three straight weeks without a full lineup and are therefore wrestling with a lot of inexperience in our lineup."

Virginia is coming off of a third place showing in the Virginia State Intercollegiate Wrestling Championships, in which seven schools from Virginia competed for the title. The Cavaliers raked in 87.5 points to finish behind James Madison and Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers captured three individual championships at 125 lbs. by fifth-year captain Steve Garland, 149 by fifth-year John Pozniak and 184 by second-year Ryan McGrath.

"We had a decent tournament in the Virginia Intercollegiate championships," Assistant Coach Brendan Buckley said. "We've had a few setbacks with injuries and other unfortunate things this year, but we are looking to redeem ourselves against Duke and N.C. State."

The first match of the weekend, against Duke, will not pose as difficult a task for Virginia as the majority of their previous matches this season. But Duke, posting a 1-7 record, has a few wrestlers who can challenge for a win.

The most interesting match-ups of the night against Duke will be at 133 lbs. where Virginia fourth-year Dave Takseraas competes against Blue Devil junior Sean Meakim and the match at 141 lbs. between Cavalier fourth-year P.J. Bory and Duke's Jason Gorski. Takseraas beat Meakim earlier in the season in a close match while Bory lost to Gorski last season.

N.C. State, (5-2, 2-0), will pose a much tougher threat to the Cavaliers. Although the Wolfpack already have beaten UNC this season, a team the Cavaliers fell to earlier this year, the Cavs still are optimistic.

"There are a few matches I think we will win, like Garland at 125 lbs. and Bory at 141 lbs.," Bernstein said. "The most important task for us will be winning at 133 lbs. and to win one of the heavier weight classes."

Virginia will have to rely on the skill of their lower and middle weights to get the dual-match victory. Leading the charge will be Garland, the nation's fourth-ranked wrestler.

At 165 lbs., Virginia's second-year Brian Muir will wrestle against Wolfpack junior Zach Breitenbach in what promises to be an intense contest. Breitenbach beat Muir last season in the ACC Championships, denying Muir a spot in the NCAA Championships. This will be the first meeting between the two since the ACCs.

"N.C. State will definitely be a tough dual meet for us," Bernstein said. "We match up well with them and I think we have a shot at winning."