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Wrestling shows promise at Virginia Duals

No. 16 graduate student Jay Aiello improved to 8-0 on the season as the Cavaliers prepare for ACC play

<p>The Cavaliers look to be ready for the beginning of conference action.</p>

The Cavaliers look to be ready for the beginning of conference action.

In the team’s final action before the start of ACC competition, Virginia wrestling competed at the Virginia Duals in Hampton, Va. Jan. 14 and 15. The Cavaliers (3-2, 0-0 ACC) wrestled against Chattanooga, Lock Haven, Kent State, Oklahoma and South Dakota State and finished with a combined record of 19-6. 

Virginia began the duals against Chattanooga, where the Cavaliers won four of the seven matches. The Mocs took an early lead after No. 22 senior Fabian Gutierrez defeated senior Patrick McCormick by tech fall in 7:00. Chattanooga then built on their lead at 133 pounds with No. 21 sophomore Brayden Palmer defeating No. 14 graduate student Brian Courtney by decision. 

The Cavaliers then bounced back by winning three straight starting with 149-pound graduate student Jarod Verkleeren, who picked up an 8-1 decision victory. At 157 pounds, fifth year Jake Keating continued the momentum for the Cavaliers by winning 12-10 against freshman Weston Wichman. 

No. 16 senior Justin McCoy followed at 165 pounds, winning 10-5 in his only match all weekend. Chattanooga sophomore Carial Tarter then answered back for the Mocs with a 6-4 win against senior Robert Patrick at 174 pounds. To end the duel with Chattanooga, 184-pound Virginia graduate student Micheal Battista defeated junior Matthew Waddell 3-1. 

Later that day, the Cavaliers then squared off against Lock Haven, beginning at 125 pounds with McCormick. McCormick lost by major decision to No. 27 redshirt freshman Anthony Noto.

Virginia then responded with five straight wins beginning with No. 14 Courtney, who won 5-0. Next at 149 pounds, Verkleeren defeated freshman Dashawn Farber 15-5 for a major decision victory and his second win of the day. Similarly, Keating followed at 157 pounds for a 10-6 victory to move to 2-0 on the day. 

Next, Battista picked up a 19-6 victory against redshirt freshman Colin Fegley at 184 pounds. To end the first day of action, No. 16 graduate student Jay Aiello pinned his opponent in 2:22. 

The Cavaliers returned to action the next morning against Kent State, winning all three matches with bonus points victories. Verkleeren started the day for Virginia with a pin in 2:09. Next, Keating picked up a 20-5 technical fall victory in 2:49 at 157 pounds. Similarly, at 184-pounds Battista won 23-8 in 6:35 by technical fall. 

Virginia then wrestled against Oklahoma and continued their excellent weekend, winning six of the seven matches. To start, McCormick won a low scoring match against No. 23 senior Joey Prata by a score of 2-1. 

“It was a pleasure to see [McCormick] wrestle like we know he can. I’m really happy for him,” Coach Steve Garland said. 

Next, No. 14 Courtney picked up two victories to finish his weekend 3-1. Courtney first picked up a 13-5 major decision victory and then a close 9-7 win. After, Verkleeren finished his weekend undefeated with a tight 3-2 victory. 

After Keating failed to upset No.16 graduate student Justin Thomas, Battista and Aiello both managed to defeat higher ranked opponents. At 184-pounds, Battista upset No. 21 junior Darrien Roberts 3-1 to improve to an 11-1 record on the season. 

Next, No. 16 Aiello defeated returning All-American No. 11 senior Jake Woodley 6-1. 

“Jay wrestled really smart and technically sound to get the win,” Garland said. 

Additionally, the Cavaliers wrestled two matches against South Dakota State. First, graduate student Jon Errico at 157-pounds and then No. 16 Aiello at 197-pounds. First, Errico lost a tight 11-7 match to sophomore Jack Thompson. To finish the Virginia Duals for the Cavaliers, Aiello pinned junior Nick Casperson in 2:48 to improve to 8-0 on the season. 

“I’m really proud of our guys,” Garland said. “They just wrestled so well today. From start to finish we had some tremendous performances.”

Virginia wrestling returns to action against Pittsburgh to kick off ACC play Jan. 21.