The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

No. 13 matmen come up short against NC State

Sulzer wins on senior night, Cavaliers lose 22-20

Thirteenth-ranked Virginia wrestling team lost a closely contested match against an ACC foe. The defeat came at the hands of No. 20 NC State, 22-20, on senior night at Memorial Gymnasium.

This sort of battle has become the norm for the Cavaliers (10-7, 2-3 ACC). Four of their seven losses were by two points or fewer, and like countless times before it, Thursday’s match against the Wolfpack (16-5, 3-2 ACC) was up in the air until the final match.

However, coach Steve Garland is not distraught by Virginia’s recent woes, nor was he down following this match — his team competed, and that vastly outweighs the final score.

“We would have a reason to be upset if we lost without competing and scrapping for every point,” Garland said. “That isn’t what happened tonight. I’m going to sleep well because we competed.”

No match exemplified the Cavaliers’ fight like the final bout of the night at 125 pounds. Virginia clung to a 20-19 lead as junior Nick Herrmann stepped into the circle to face senior Joe DeAngelo. Herrmann rallied from a 6-3 deficit to tie the match after one period. The Amarillo, Texas native started the third period on top, but let DeAngelo escape to take a 7-6 lead. Herrmann fought hard for the final two minutes, but could not secure the potential match-deciding takedown.

“Herrmann may have technically lost that match, but he went berserk out there,” Garland said. “He didn’t leave an ounce of sweat out on the mat, and that is what it’s about.”

The Cavaliers did build a ten-point advantage through the first six weight classes. No. 14 sophomore George DiCamillo began the night with a bang — pinning freshman Bryce Meredith with five seconds remaining in the first period.

But North Carolina State took the next match. Still returning from an injury, No. 13 senior Joe Spisak was upset by freshman Kevin Jack, 19-6. Spisak lacked the quickness that his style is based upon.

Virginia dropped the 149-pound match, 4-3. Senior Gus Sako was not healthy enough to compete, and redshirt freshman T.J. Miller — whose season appeared to be finished following a gruesome knee injury three weeks prior — stepped in to the lineup. Miller was sporting a bulky knee brace, and appeared to be limited by it. The Medford, N.J. native tied the match with a late takedown, but was unable to ride out redshirt freshman Beau Donahue.

“Miller was one of the great stories of this match,” Garland said. “We saw him get his leg ripped off against Pittsburgh, so his return was a positive.”

The Cavaliers responded with a three-match winning streak. Redshirt freshman Andrew Atkinson won 7-3 at 157 pounds.

No. 4 senior Nick Sulzer did not disappoint in his final home match. He led 4-1 after the first period, but sophomore Max Rohskopf rode Sulzer for the entire second period. Sulzer, a two-time All-American, responded by hitting four takedowns in the final two minutes to earn the 12-4 major decision victory.

“I had a game plan going in, but the standing ovation really got to me,” Sulzer said.

Sixth-ranked junior Blaise Butler also used a late-match flurry of takedowns to earn a bonus point as he dismantled sophomore Pete Renda, 17-6.

The momentum of the contest turned at 184 pounds. Freshman Nicky Hall pinned sophomore James Suvak in the second period to pull NC State within four. Suvak was filling in for redshirt freshman Tyler Askey, who was a late injury scratch.

“Suvak was ready, and we’re proud of him for that,” Garland said. “We always tell our non-starters to be ready because anything can happen in our world.”

Virginia won its final match of the night in thrilling fashion at 197-pounds. Ranked 19th at that weight, junior Zach Nye needed six periods of overtime to defeat freshman Michael Boykin, 4-3, in a match that lasted over 11 minutes.

“Nye is tough,” Sulzer said. “Wrestling that long is mentally draining, but he’s been in a lot of dogfights before.”

Reigning national champion and top-ranked heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski pinned junior Patrick Gillen in the first period to set up the Wolfpack’s come-from-behind victory. With that win, Gwiazdowski improved to 27-0 this year.

The Cavaliers now take a two-and-a-half week break before the ACC Tournament on Mar. 8 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania They will take with them the experience gained from one of the toughest seasons in Virginia history.

“We have to stay together and remain positive,” Garland said. “If the individual takes care of themselves at a tournament then the team benefits. March is the most fun month of the year because you focus on the individual.”


Latest Podcast

Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.