It was an action-packed weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. for a Virginia wrestling team that competed in the South Beach Duals, wrestling in four matches across two days.
On the first day of the meet, Virginia (7-5) faced West Virginia (2-7) and No. 22 Utah Valley (6-5). The Cavaliers delivered two impressive performances, posting wins over both teams and starting off the weekend 2-0.
Against West Virginia, both teams traded points early.
Virginia wrestlers junior Jack Mueller, junior Sam Krivus and sophomore Jake Keating all won their respective bouts.
However, West Virginia wrestlers sophomore Matthew Schmitt, senior Christian Monserrat and sophomore Nick Kiussis scored wins themselves to bring the Mountaineers within four points. Virginia responded with three straight victories to put the game out of reach, eventually taking the dual 26-13.
Following the win against West Virginia, the Cavaliers next faced Utah Valley. Once again, Mueller got Virginia off to a strong start with his second pin of the day in the first match at 125 pounds. Another pin by sophomore Louis Hayes gave the Cavaliers a 12-0 lead.
A third pin at 149 pounds and a technical fall at 157 pounds from sophomore Sam Martino and Keating increased Virginia’s lead to 23-3. Utah Valley mounted a brief comeback, but it was too little too late, as the Cavaliers finished the dual, 26-19.
On the second day of the two-day event, Virginia split its matches with SIU-Edwardsville (0-7) and No. 21 Lehigh (1-7).
Mueller, for the third time in Ft. Lauderdale, set the tone for the Cavaliers early with a pin against SIU-Edwardsville. A trio of consecutive victories from Hayes, Krivus and sophomore Michael Murphy pushed the Virginia lead to 19-0. The Cougars eventually got on the scoreboard with a pair of decisions and a pin from freshman Colton McKiernan, but the Cavaliers still cruised to a 29-12 victory.
The Cavaliers finished the weekend against an elite Lehigh squad that has wrestled against six teams ranked in the top 12 nationally. Mueller kicked off the dual with a major decision for his fourth win of the weekend. Virginia also received a pair of wins from Krivus and Keating and gained a 12-6 lead.
However, the Mountain Hawks closed out the dual with five straight wins. Heavyweight junior Jordan Wood — ranked sixth nationally in his weight class — capped off the match with a pin on Virginia’s sophomore Robert Scherer.
While the Cavaliers’ loss to Lehigh was disappointing, Virginia wrestling’s weekend on the whole was very positive. Virginia dominated two opponents in West Virginia and SIU-Edwardsville and picked up its first win against a nationally-ranked opponent with its victory over Utah Valley. Moreover, Jack Mueller didn’t drop a single bout all weekend, scoring four wins including three pins.
Virginia will next return to its home state to compete in the Virginia Duals Competition in Hampton, Va. on Jan. 11-12.