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Garland hopes for consistency

Virginia looks to reverse trend against Princeton, wrestle for full seven minutes to avoid letdown

Consistently inconsistent.

That's the best way to describe the 2010-11 Virginia wrestling team's season thus far.

One week the Cavaliers (14-5, 2-0 ACC) come out and dismantle an opponent and the next they let up just enough to allow a weaker team get the better of them. This fickleness explains why their record consists of losses to unranked teams such as Buffalo and Wyoming. Virginia hopes that won't be the case Saturday against Princeton.

"The downside is that we aren't always consistent, aren't always firing on all cylinders," redshirt freshman Jon Fausey said. "And to be great, you got to have a great day every single day, a great competition every single day. You have to be consistent and consistent and consistent and perform at your highest at all times."

But despite these disappointments and inexplicable gaffes, the team always responds. After losing to Buffalo, Virginia reeled off three consecutive wins; following the Wyoming loss it came back with an impressive victory against ACC rival N.C. State. And possibly most telling, after a heartbreaking 15-18 defeat to No. 21 Penn, the team bounced back by obliterating Virginia Military Academy and a convincing win on the road at North Carolina. The Cavaliers' resiliency is their saving grace.

"On the other side, it shows that when adversity comes our way, we're not just going to cower in the corner," Fausey said. "We're never going to quit and we're always going to respond with a great effort."

Virginia welcomes the unranked Tigers (3-6) to Memorial Gymnasium tomorrow. Last year the Cavaliers traveled to New Jersey and shut out Princeton 42-0. This season, however, the Ivy League team has shown vast improvement. Considering Virginia's inconsistency, moreover, this match has all the makings of another letup performance after its win against Carolina. "Princeton is much, much improved this year," coach Steve Garland said. "Coach [Chris] Ayres is one of the best young coaches in the country. They've had some really good duel meets and have some really good individuals. We have to be ready to battle."

Players are aware of the troubling trend and say they have found a way to reverse it.

"We've focused on wrestling hard for seven minutes," Fausey said. "When we wrestle hard for five or six minutes, bad things happen. We don't finish our matches; we leave points at the end of the period. That's how Buffalo happens, Wyoming happens. Pitt happens. So our focus is get them tired, wear them down and basically just go hard for seven minutes."

Virginia's tough losses against inferior opponents aren't the only thing that the Cavaliers have had to battle back from this season. The team also has had to fight the injury bug - three of its top 12 wrestlers have sat out for an extended period of time. But Garland notes that's just another road block the team has overcome.

"Whenever we are faced with serious challenges, they always respond," Garland said. "That's way beyond wrestling, man, that's a life thing; that's a life lesson that I'm proud of my kids for. Whenever they get knocked down, man, they get back up hard."

Saturday's match is scheduled for 1 p.m.


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