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Wrestling defeats SIU-Edwardsville, falls to No. 24 Northwestern

The Cavaliers dominated the Cougars and held their own against a strong Wildcat roster.

<p>The Cavaliers nearly pulled off the upset against the No. 24-ranked Wildcats, showing promise going into the start of ACC play.</p>

The Cavaliers nearly pulled off the upset against the No. 24-ranked Wildcats, showing promise going into the start of ACC play.

After a month away from competition, Virginia wrestling traveled to Evanston, Ill. for dual meets against SIU-Edwardsville and No. 24 Northwestern on Dec. 29. The Cavaliers (3-2, 0-0 ACC) started the day defeating the Cougars (0-6, 0-0 MAC) 34-3, but then fell to the Wildcats (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) 18-16 in a duel that came down to the final weight class. 

SIU-Edwardsville got off to an early 3-0 lead when junior Saul Ervin defeated sophomore Dylan Cedeno by decision in the 141-pound weight class. Virginia would proceed to win the next nine weight classes. Graduate student Jarod Verkleeren would then get a decision victory at 149 pounds to tie the score 3-3. 

At 157 pounds, fifth-year Denton Spencer won 5-0 against SIU-Edwardsville junior Max Kristoff to give the Cavaliers a 6-3. Next, at 165 pounds, No. 16 senior Justin McCoy would win by forfeit which gave Virginia six points, making the score 12-3. 

The Cavaliers would not look back, winning the next four matches by decision victories. Starting with 174-pound junior Justin Phillips, who won in a tight 4-2 victory against graduate student Kevin Gschwendtner. Graduate student Michael Battista would then win 6-1 at 184 pounds. 

No. 16 graduate student Jay Aiello would then wrestle in his first match of the season at 197 pounds. Aiello won by an 11-5 decision against senior Ryan Yarnell. At 285 pounds, No. 27 graduate student Quinn Miller would continue the dominance, winning by a 7-2 decision. The four decision victories would give the Cavaliers a 24-3 lead. 

125-pound senior Patrick McCormick would then pick up the first major decision victory of the day winning by a score of 10-0. No. 14 graduate student Brian Courtney would then finish the dual with a forfeit victory giving the Cavaliers an additional six points. 

Virginia then faced off against Northwestern in a nail-biting affair. 

Starting at 141 pounds, Cedeno lost 7-2 to senior Frankie Tal-Shahar. Next at 149 pounds, No. 4 graduate student Yahya Thomas pinned Verkleeren giving the Wildcats an early 9-0 lead. Sophomore Trevor Chumbley would build on the Northwestern lead, winning by regular decisions against Spencer at 157 pounds. 

McCoy would then begin the comeback defeating No. 33 sophomore David Ferrante by decision. McCoy continues to have an incredible season as he moves to 9-0. Phillips would then get an upset win against No. 20 sophomore Troy Fisher making the score 12-6. 

“A big shoutout to Justin McCoy and Justin Phillips for flipping that match on its head, though,” said Coach Steve Garland. “The way they wrestled completely changed the rest of the dual.”

Battista would then win by major decision to cut the Northwestern lead to just two. At 197 pounds, Aiello would continue his dominant return winning by a score of 5-3 against No. 30 graduate student Andrew Davison. The win gave Virginia a 13-12 lead. 

At 285 pounds, Miller fell to No. 14 junior Lucas Davison by a score of 9-4, giving the lead back to the Wildcats. McCormick then answered back for the Cavaliers winning 4-0 at 125 pounds to give Virginia back the lead. 

With Virginia leading by only one point with a score of 16-15, the dual would come down to the final match between No. 14 Courtney and No. 9 sophomore Chris Cannon for the Wildcats. Cannon grabbed the decision victory in the final seconds by a score of 8-7 giving Northwestern the dual victory by a final score of 18-16. 

“[Brian Courtney] competed his heart out,” Garland said. “Our bench was going crazy. If Brian continues to compete like that, which I believe he will, he will not only do great things but he will be a lot of fun to watch.”

The Cavaliers look to rebound at the Virginia Duals in Hampton, Va. Jan. 14.