Matmen knock off three foes in season-openers

Spisak, Miller give impressive performances as Nelson returns to lineup

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The No. 23 Virginia wrestling team opened its season in impressive fashion Saturday, defeating Anderson, Rider and Gardner-Webb while dropping only one of its 30 bouts.

"You can't do much better than winning every single time you go out there," Virginia coach Steve Garland said.

Virginia opened its day with Anderson, dropping its only bout of the day at the 197-pound weight class through a forfeit. Garland chose to rest redshirt sophomore Mike Salopek because he was coming off an injury suffered during the summer. Salopek returned for the matches against Rider and Gardner-Webb, earning a technical fall and a major decision. Virginia subsequently defeated the Trojans, 41-6.

During the second match of the day, the Cavaliers faced Rider. The Cavaliers earned the same result as against Anderson, but they faced much tougher competition en route, as five bouts were won by decision.

"The score was bad against Rider, but Rider is a tough team," Garland said. "I feel like our guys wrestled really well. They had some guys who maybe were picked to win against us."

The Cavaliers followed up their 38-0 victory against Rider with a defeat of Gardner-Webb, 50-0. The 50 points scored by Virginia is tied for the fifth most points scored in a match in program history. Several individual performances highlighted the day for the Cavaliers, notably those of freshmen Joe Spisak and Conner Miller. Spisak notched a trio of wins at 133 pounds, recording two pins and a major decision. The major decision came against junior Jimmy Kirchner of Rider who began the season ranked No. 18. Miller recorded a major decision, a decision and a pin at 165 pounds, filling in for the injured Jedd Moore.

"Joe Spisak and Conner Miller had phenomenal performances today," Garland said. "Those are the two stars of the day. Two freshmen coming in, no nerves, and not just winning, but dominating."

Similarly, junior Nick Nelson, who redshirted last season because of injury, performed well in the season's opening. Nelson saw his first action on the mat in more than a year, earning two major decisions and a technical fall at 141 pounds.

"It was nervewracking at first, but once you get that first match out, once you get warmed up and step on that mat, there is nothing like it," he said.

Senior Chris Henrich won a trio of bouts, moving him into fifth place on Virginia's career wins list with 104. Henrich notched a pin, a decision and a technical fall. Redshirt sophomore Matt Snyder, junior Derek Valenti and redshirt senior Jack Danilkowicz all recorded three wins apiece for the Cavaliers.

"It feels pretty in good in the sense that everyone went out there and worked and gave effort," Nelson said. "You can fix technique, but you can't fix effort."

The Cavaliers will travel to Pennsylvania for the Hershey Duals next weekend to face The Citadel, Kent State and Edinboro.

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