The No. 11 Virginia wrestling team earned convincing victories against Appalachian State and Old Dominion this weekend to end the dual meet portion of its season.
Scoring bonus points was the theme Saturday as Virginia (15-3, 4-1 ACC) routed the Mountaineers (6-6, 3-2 Southern) 42-0. Seven out of 10 matches ended in bonus point wins, including pins by No. 10 redshirt senior Matt Snyder and redshirt junior Stephen Doty.
No. 15 redshirt senior Jedd Moore pitched in with a 19-1 technical fall, while redshirt freshman Blaise Butler, No. 16 redshirt junior Jon Fausey, redshirt sophomore Derek Papagianopoulos and No. 14 freshman Geroge DiCamillo each contributed four points by way of major decision.
“There were a lot of good things that happened today,” Virginia coach Steve Garland said. “I could go up and down the lineup and talk about all the great things that we accomplished.”
The Cavaliers’ attention quickly turned to a tough Old Dominion (10-7, 5-0 CAA).
Sunday’s match against Old Dominion served as a formal farewell to both the regular season and Virginia’s seniors. The Memorial Gymnasium faithful honored Moore, Snyder, redshirt senior Matt Nelson, No. 20 Mike Salopek and No. 20 Derek Valenti, while expressing their gratitude for the men’s hard work and dedication.
“Today was more about reflecting on the seniors,” Garland said. “It is such a special group of people. I’m going to really miss those guys.”
The Monarchs prove to be a much more tenacious opponent than Appalachian State, with many matches turning into low-scoring affairs that came down to the wire. The Cavaliers, however, came away with a 27-6 victory.
Snyder opened the match with a 1-0 win, clinging to redshirt freshman Rob Deutsch as he desperately tried to escape Snyder’s hold in the final seconds of the bout. Snyder scored no offensive points and won by amassing a 2:00 riding time advantage by riding Deutsch for the entire third period. Snyder’s win was the 92nd of his career, moving him past Steve Garland and Nick Nelson for 10th all-time at Virginia.
Following Snyder’s nail-biter, DiCamillo earned a hard-fought 4-3 decision against Monarchs junior Scott Festejo, taking him down in the final minute to grab a two-point lead and then riding him out.
Old Dominion then got on the board when No. 16 redshirt freshman Chris Mecate defeated Virginia redshirt sophomore Joe Spisak 6-2, who had been riding a 15-match winning streak.
The Cavaliers countered with five consecutive wins, including a 16-7 major decision by redshirt sophomore Nick Sulzer and a 16-1 tech fall courtesy of Fausey. Doty broke a scoreless match in the third period with an escape and took the riding time point to win 2-0.
Moore posted his 80th career victory by hitting a double-leg takedown in the third period, eking out a 3-2 win against redshirt senior Brennan Brumley. Valenti escaped in the second period of his match against redshirt freshman Josh Clark and went on to win 1-0, good for his 91st at Virginia and tying Garland and Nelson for 11th in the program’s history.
Salopek lost in overtime to redshirt sophomore Jacob Henderson. The match was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, forcing sudden death. Henderson scored the match-winning takedown with only 21 seconds remaining. Papagianopoulos then finished off the Monarchs with a 5-2 decision at heavyweight, including a takedown with three seconds left in the bout, against redshirt sophomore Matt Tourdot, ending the emotional day for the Cavaliers.
Setting the senior night high aside, Garland still offered criticisms of his team and its imperfect performance.
“We have to keep a certain standard in the way we’re competing,” Garland said. “Credit to Old Dominion today, they wrestled us tough, but I don’t think our guys wrestled to the standard they should.”
Before the ACC Tournament begins in March, Virginia will head to the regionals of the NWCA National Duals next week in Ithaca, New York. There they will compete against host school No. 10 Cornell, No. 13 Nebraska and Hofstra for the region’s lone spot in the national bracket the following week. The departing seniors see this as the culmination of half a decade of work.
“It’s been an incredible ride,” Snyder said. “This is going to be a huge opportunity for our team. This is an opportunity to make a statement as a team, and this is how we would love to go out.”