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Wrestling shows promise at the NCAA Championships

Graduate student Brian Courtney was a standout for the Cavaliers, reaching the quarterfinals at the NCAA Championships.

<p>Coach Steve Garland steered the Cavaliers towards encouraging results in St. Louis, Mo.</p>

Coach Steve Garland steered the Cavaliers towards encouraging results in St. Louis, Mo.

Virginia wrestling closed out their season over the weekend at the NCAA Championship in St. Louis, Mo. The Cavaliers had eight wrestlers qualify for the tournament, with four of them advancing to the second day of competition. Graduate student Brian Courtney had a strong performance, advancing all the way to the quarterfinal. Additionally, three wrestlers advanced to the round of 12 — the most for Virginia since the 2015 NCAA Championships. 

No. 32 Senior Patrick McCormick 

After a third place finish at the ACC Championships, McCormick struggled to get into a rhythm. His first match ended in a 2-0 decision defeat and his second match ended in a 1-0 defeat. With a year left of eligibility for the Cavaliers, McCormick has an opportunity to return to the NCAA Championships for a third straight appearance. 

No. 25 Graduate Student Brian Courtney

Courtney picked up two upset performances to propel himself into the quarterfinal. On Thursday, Courtney defeated No. 8 Michigan State senior Rayvon Foley 4-2 victory in the round of 32 – the highest-ranked victory of his career. In the round of 16, Courtney won 8-7 by decision to set up a match with No. 1 seed Roman Bravo-Young from Penn State on Friday. Bravo-Young won 13-6 to send Courtney to the consolidation bracket where he lost 5-3 to finish his season. 

“Brian Courtney was out of his mind knocking off two top-10 guys to get to this point,” said Coach Steve Garland.  

No. 33 sophomore Dylan Cedeno 

Cedeno, who placed third at the ACC championships, did not have the same success in St. Louis. Cedeno lost both of his matches, first by being pinned and then by major decision. With still a few years remaining to be a part of the program, the sophomore will look to build on the accomplishment of qualifying for the NCAA championships. 

No. 14 senior Jake Keating 

Keating, who also placed third at the ACC Championships, started off strong with a decision victory against No. 19 Purdue junior Kendall Coleman. The victory guaranteed Keating would wrestle Friday, when he was pinned by No. 3 Arizona State sophomore Jacori Teemer in 2:43. 

The next day, Keating started strong with a 3-2 decision victory in the consolation bracket against No. 20 Pittsburgh senior Elijah Cleary to advance. In the quarterfinal of the consolation bracket, Keating fell short, losing by pin to No. 22 Citadel junior Dazjon Casto. 

No. 19 senior Justin McCoy (165 pounds) 

Similar to Keating, McCoy also advanced to the All-American round but fell just short of the achievement. After a 6-1 decision victory in the round of 32, McCoy fell to No. 3 Iowa senior Alex Marinelli which bumped him down to the consolation bracket. 

The senior started strong in the consolation bracket with a 14-4 major decision victory against No. 20 Appalachian State junior Will Formato before his season ended to No. 9 West Virginia sophomore Peyton Hall by major decision. 

No. 25 graduate student Michael Battista 

Battista began his tournament against No. 8 Iowa State senior Marcus Coleman. Coleman won by major decision before Battista lost by pin in the consolation bracket to cut his tournament run short. 

No. 17 graduate student Jay Aiello 

In his fourth NCAA qualifier, Aiello got off to a good start with a 5-3 overtime victory against No. 16 Arizona State junior Kordell Norfleet. Next, Aiello lost to No. 1 Penn State junior Max Dean but kept the match close — only losing 4-2 by decision. 

In the consolation bracket, Aiello picked up a decision and then a major decision victory to advance to the second round of eight. Aiello then faced No. 3 Nebraska senior Eric Schultz who won 4-2, putting Aiello just short of All-American honors. 

No. 23 graduate student Quinn Miller 

After a third place finish in the ACC Championships, Miller entered the NCAA Championship with momentum. Despite this, Miller came up just short in both of his matches. In the round of 32, Miller lost to No. 10 Virginia Tech senior Nathan Traxler in overtime. In the consolation bracket, Miller once again lost in overtime, but this time to No. 26 junior Ben Goldin from University of Pennsylvania.

“We had three guys in the All-American round tonight which is one of the biggest rounds for our sport,” Garland said. “That’s what we want to do moving forward is keep the momentum and get more and more groups of guys back in that situation.”


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