The No. 16 Virginia wrestling team swept its season-opening matches against Anderson, Ohio, and UT-Chattanooga, putting on a clinical performance during its Saturday meet.
Virginia’s first opponent, Division-II Anderson University, proved no match as the Cavaliers prevailed 37-12. Freshman Nick Herrmann, redshirt freshmen Jimmy Nehls and Zach Nye and redshirt sophomore Derek Papagianopoulos all scored a pin fall.
Fresh off the Anderson victory, the matmen battled Ohio University. Once again, the Cavaliers pummeled the competition, winning the match 34-6. Redshirt junior Jon Fausey recorded Virginia’s only pin against the Bobcats, but four other Cavaliers won by major decision.
Jedd Moore, a redshirt senior wrestling in the 157-pound weight class, scored one of those major decisions by crushing redshirt freshman Zach Rohr 17-7. After claiming his first match, Moore won by tech fall against Chattanooga sophomore Trey Stavrum.
“Jedd Moore was, by far, the most dominant wrestler out of any team there,” coach Steve Garland said. “I think he just looked amazing.”
Virginia heavyweight Papagianopoulos came within seconds of defeating Ohio redshirt junior Jeremy Johnson, the ninth-best heavyweight in the nation. Papagianopoulos lost a 5-4 lead with a minute remaining in the third period and eventually dropped the match 7-5.
“The losses we had were hard-fought losses,” Garland said. “If you do everything you can and lose nobody can be mad at you. If you compete like that and lose you can always hold your head up.”
The Cavaliers’ last match against Tennessee-Chattanooga included its marquee event, as the opening bout paired two nationally ranked wrestlers in the 125-pound weight class. Virginia’s redshirt senior Matt Snyder, the No. 9 125-pound wrestler, locked into a tough contest with Chattanooga’s sophomore Nick Soto, the 14th-ranked 125-pounder. Snyder prevailed with a 6-1 decision.
Snyder’s victory energized his teammates and rallied them to an impressive 27-9 victory against the Mocs.
“[Soto] is a really good kid,” Garland said. “That was a big win right out of the gates for us, and it set the tone for the rest of the day.”
The following day, Soto legitimized his national ranking by winning the Hokie Open in Salem, Va. The Tennessee wrestler’s accomplishment only reinforced Snyder’s impressive victory.
Other notable victories against Chattanooga included redshirt sophomore Nick Sulzer’s tech fall against freshman John Lampe and redshirt junior Stephen Doty’s major decision against senior Robert Prigmore.
Despite some early season rust, the Cavaliers’ performance left very little room for criticism. The Virginia wrestling team will next challenge George Mason and Gardner-Webb at the Gardner-Webb Duals Saturday. Following the Gardner-Webb Duals the Cavaliers begin a grueling stretch of tough, nationally ranked opponents. The wrestlers and coaches will try to correct any problems before the schedule shifts into overdrive.
“We always have little things here and there that we can always do better,” Doty said. “I think our coaching staff does a really good job of identifying what our team needs to work on and working that into our practices.”