Virginia (8-4, 0-1 ACC) has demonstrated steady growth throughout the season, slowly moving up in the rankings before hitting a roadblock in No. 6 Virginia Tech (13-1, 3-0 ACC) last weekend.
Coming off a loss allows the team to refocus itself and take an introspective look at all of its processes.
“We talked about all the stuff we need to fix,” coach Steve Garland said. “What losing does is it hyper focuses you on attack areas and things we really need to pay attention to … [Virginia Tech] showed us they were better in certain positions than us. Now we need to look forward to correcting it.”
In addition to Garland’s influence, senior leadership will be key in instilling a culture of continual improvement in the team’s psyche.
Fifth-year senior George DiCamillo’s style of leadership has certainly rubbed off on his teammates. DiCamillo is currently the No. 6 ranked wrestler in his 141-pound weight class and has been a steadfast figure of consistency that younger players on the team can look up to.
To prepare for matches, DiCamillo prepares both in and out of practice.
“The week leading up to a match I try not to think about wrestling too much when not in the wrestling room,” DiCamillo said. “When I go into the [wrestling] room is when I hyper focus on wrestling. Obviously, with going up a weight class, diet isn’t a much of a factor as it has been … wrestling is a total lifestyle commitment.”
His commitment and performance has led him to step into his role as a leader of this team.
“George has always been a guy that leads by example,” Garland said. “He’s such an awesome kid to be around, and he’s everything you want in a student athlete. He hits on every box and I can’t say enough about all he’s done for this program.”
DiCamillo will soon take to the mats for the last time in his career, and he understands that he has much to offer for the younger wrestlers, he said. Being the elder statesman of the team has its responsibilities, but he has learned how to lead by example and he is trying to further spread what he has been taught.
“I’m approaching it in a way similar to the fifth years I observed when I was a first year,” DiCamillo said. “They taught me all I needed to succeed, so I’m trying to teach all of that to the younger guys. I want to offer my perspective on how to compete on the mat, how to think about things mentally, and even how to eat nutrition-wise.”
Looking forward, DiCamillo is set to lead his team against No. 8 NC State (9-1, 2-0 ACC) in a massive home match for the Cavaliers this Sunday. Coming off a taxing match against Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers face another top 10 opponent, as they begin to get into the meat of their ACC schedule.
NC State will serve as yet another barometer for the team. While it is notoriously difficult to pull off a team upset in wrestling, the Cavaliers have proven that each of their individual wrestlers can pull off upsets against the nation’s elite. If they put together a full team effort, nothing is out of the question.
“NC State is a great team,” DiCamillo said. “They had an awesome season last year and have great guys on their roster. For me, it’s a good opportunity to take on one of the best wrestlers in the nation. For the team, it’s a good opportunity to respond from last week.”
Wins and losses come and go, but a culture of consistency, effort and integrity is what really leaves a legacy. Culture endures throughout time and must be upheld by Virginia wrestlers. When all is said and done, DiCamillo wants to know that he helped build and maintain the foundation of Virginia wrestling.
“The reality is, in March, my career is over,” DiCamillo said. “And hopefully, I’ve been able to help build a foundation with the younger guys so they can be the next leaders of the team.”