No. 23 wrestling loses second straight dual but shows positive signs

The Cavaliers fall short against the highest-ranked ACC team in the country


Redshirt junior Tyler Love closed out the match for Virginia with a win in his heavyweight bout.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After dropping its ACC opener last Saturday against No. 17 North Carolina, the No. 23 Virginia wrestling team returned home to face yet another nationally ranked opponent from the Tar Heel State on Friday. Despite wins in four weight classes and a raucous home crowd, the Cavaliers (11-8, 0-2 ACC) fell 23-17 to No. 8 N.C. State (14-2, 2-0 ACC). 

The dual kicked off with a familiar sight as junior Jack Mueller — the fifth-ranked wrestler in the nation at 125 pounds — secured a convincing bonus-point win. The Dallas native has yet to lose this season and has been Virginia’s most consistently dominant performer.

The N.C. State wrestling team, however, responded to Virginia’s strong start with four consecutive wins to surge ahead of the Cavaliers. Redshirt senior Sean Fausz gave N.C. State its first points of the night with a 6-0 decision over redshirt sophomore Louie Hayes. The Wolfpack then used a decision at 141 pounds to gain a slight lead — one they never gave back.

Consecutive major decisions at 149 and 157 pounds from graduate transfer Justin Oliver and redshirt sophomore Hayden Hidlay extended the Wolfpack’s overall lead to nine. 

Redshirt freshman Cam Coy got Virginia back on track with an exciting overtime win at 165 pounds. Knotted at 1-1 at the end of regulation, Coy used a late takedown to secure a 3-1 decision.

While Coy’s win cut N.C. State’s lead to just six, the Wolfpack shut the door on Virginia with a narrow win at 174 pounds and a pinfall at 184 pounds. 

Even with the game out of reach, the Cavaliers never stopped fighting, winning the final two weight classes courtesy of a pin from redshirt sophomore Jay Aiello — the eighth-ranked wrestler in the country at 197 pounds — and redshirt junior Tyler Love’s decision at heavyweight. 

While Virginia may have lost the dual, the team’s valiant performance against N.C. State — one of the best teams in the country with seven nationally-ranked wrestlers — is indicative of how well the Cavaliers are currently competing.

Specifically, Mueller’s continued success, Love’s determination to get a positive result, and Coy and Aiello’s wins against ranked opponents are all noteworthy. 

Virginia will next face Duke Saturday, Feb. 9, at Memorial Gymnasium as the team continues to pursue its first ACC win. 

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