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Wrestling displays a strong performance in the Mat Town Open

After their first loss of the season, Virginia bounces back with four wrestlers winning their weight class

<p>Graduate student Jarod Verkleeren had a strong performance at the Mat Town Open, finishing as a runner-up to Lehigh freshman Max Brignola.</p>

Graduate student Jarod Verkleeren had a strong performance at the Mat Town Open, finishing as a runner-up to Lehigh freshman Max Brignola.

Virginia wrestling competed in the Mat Town Open at Lock Haven University Sunday. After a tough dual meet loss to Campbell on Nov. 20, the Cavaliers bounced back with 10 place winners and four first-place finishers. The four first-place victories came from graduate student Jon Errico, senior Justin McCoy, junior Justin Phillips and graduate student Michael Battista. 

The 141-pound sophomore Evan Buchanan was the first-place winner for Virginia. After losing in the round of 16, Buchanan strung together five straight consolation bracket wins to advance to the third-place match. In the consolation round of 16, Buchanan won via major decision by a score of 15-5. In the third-place match, Buchanan was pinned after 4:33 but left the tournament with a fourth-place finish. 

At 149 pounds, graduate student Jarod Verkleeren would get the Cavaliers another place winner finish, but this time as a runner up. Verkleeren picked up three straight decision victories with a combined point differential of 14-3 to advance to the final. After a strong start, Verkleeren would lose in the final 6-4 on the way to a second-place finish to Lehigh freshman Max Brignola. 

Virginia then displayed a dominant performance at 157 pounds with Cavaliers placing first, second and third. Jon Errico led the way for Virginia winning with a pin in his first two matches and his last two by decision. On the way to his first-place victory, Errico defeated junior Nic Sansone in the semifinal and then fifth-year Denton Spencer in the final by scores of 6-1 and 2-0, respectively. 

Additionally, Spencer picked up a victory with a pin in the quarterfinal and a 16-2 major decision victory in the semifinal. In the third-place match, Sansone won by a 4-1 decision victory. 

No. 20 Justin McCoy would then pick up the second first-place finish of the day at 165-pounds. In his four matches, McCoy managed to win in four different ways. McCoy won his first match by technical fall, the quarterfinal by major decision, the semifinal by decision, and then ended the day with a pin in 2:48. In his first three matches, McCoy produced a combined 42 points and limited his opponents to nine. 

Justin Phillips and sophomore Hudson Stewart led the way at 174 pounds, meeting in the final before Stewart was forced to concede due to injury. On his way to a first-place finish, Philips picked up three straight decision victories. Alternatively, Stewart won his round of 16 matches with a pin, a quarterfinal match with a major decision victory, and finally a semifinal decision win. 

At 184 pounds the Cavaliers had another first-place finish from Micheal Battista. He started his day with two decision victories in the quarterfinal and semifinal. In the final, Battista won convincingly with a 14-5 major decision victory. 

The final place winner of the day would be 197-pound junior Ethan Weatherspoon who placed second. Weatherspoon won his first two matches by major decision resulting in a combined score of 31-10. In the final, Weatherspoon lost by technical fall to finish his day as the runner-up. 

“Overall we had a solid day,” Coach Steve Garland said. “Four champions and six finalists is a good day for sure, but we are always critiquing and rightly we recognize we have a lot to improve upon. I’m always happy when we have so many guys competing.”

Virginia will have a break in their schedule with their next tournament a two-day meet Dec. 29-30. The Cavaliers will compete in the Ken Kraft Midlands Championship hosted by Northwestern. 

“We have lots we can improve on so we will take the next couple of weeks to [step] back from competing and starting the learning process,” Garland said.