The No. 11 Virginia wrestling team steamrolled NC State en route to a 32-7 win Sunday, thrilling a near-capacity Memorial Gymnasium crowd.
Virginia (12-3, 3-1 ACC) was able to defeat the Wolfpack (3-3, 0-2 ACC) despite the absences of redshirt senior Jedd Moore and redshirt junior Jon Fausey, who were both nursing minor injuries. Both are expected to return for next week’s match at Maryland.
Redshirt sophomore Joe Spisak, returning to the starting lineup after struggling with injury, sparked the crowd with his first period pin of NC State freshman Tyler Hunt at 141 pounds.
“There is a lot of time and emotion put into this,” Spisak said. “Whenever you can go out there and get the six for your team it’s always an exciting feeling.”
After redshirt sophomore Nick Sulzer defeated NC State junior Nijel Jones by major decision at the 165 pound level, Wolfpack freshman Patrick Davis vanquished fellow freshman Dusty Floyd to pull NC State within 19-7.
But redshirt junior Stephen Doty and redshirt senior Mike Salopek — who, like Spisak, soon returned to the lineup after an injury — followed with consecutive technical falls in the 184 and 197 pound fights to bury the Wolfpack for good.
In the 157-pound division, redshirt freshman Blaise Butler performed valiantly while filling in for a banged-up Moore. His clash with junior Matt Nereim, an NCAA qualifier from last season, was tight throughout before a last second takedown gave Nereim an 8-7 victory.
Redshirt senior Matt Snyder and freshman George DiCamillo staked the Cavaliers to a 6-0 lead at the 125- and 133-pound levels before Spisak’s pin. The 149-pound redshirt senior Derek Valenti and heavyweight redshirt sophomore Derek Papagianopoulos scored a pair of decisions to round out the scoring for Virginia.
Spisak and Salopek recovered at an opportune time for coach Steve Garland and Virginia. With tournament time swiftly approaching, their presence could swing the balance of conference power to Virginia.
“I told my guys after the match, boys — we’re finally healthy,” Garland said. “We can walk into Maryland [Friday] ready to go with our full crew.”
As Virginia enters its second week ranked No. 11, no longer able to gather motivation from its long-held underdog status, the team still appears to be adapting to its new role.
“It’s funny to be the hunted for a change,” Garland said. “So far I think our guys have responded very well to that challenge.”
Virginia travels to Maryland Friday.