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Virginia wrestling dominates past week with two hefty wins

The Cavaliers put up their first shutout of the season, only giving up six total points between their two matches

<p>The Cavaliers outscored Duke and American 81-6 in their two matches Friday and Sunday.</p>

The Cavaliers outscored Duke and American 81-6 in their two matches Friday and Sunday.

Coming off of a solid performance at the Virginia Duals in which Virginia wrestling won and lost one match, the Cavaliers (7-2, 1-0 ACC) had a slight break before entering duels with Duke Friday and American two days later. The break would prove highly beneficial for Virginia, who picked up a pair of convincing victories over the Blue Devils (4-9, 0-1 ACC) and the Eagles (5-9, 0-2 EIWA) after healing up from several injuries in previous matches. 

With the team holding a 64-7-2 all time series lead over Duke, Virginia was looking to pick up an easy win to start off conference play. The dual would start with the 184-lbs class, which meant sophomore Griffin Gammell was up first for the Cavaliers. Gammell immediately put his foot on the gas with a win by decision, setting the tone for the day. 

A win by tech fall for graduate Krystian Kinsey soon followed, and another by decision for junior Ryan Catka meant Virginia was up 11-0 after just three matches. While the Cavaliers could have taken their foot off the gas and sat comfortably with their lead, they intended to make their presence known. 

Every other duel in the match was won by Virginia in bonus-point fashion. Sophomore Kyle Montaperto and junior Marlon Yarbrough II both won by tech fall before twin sophomores Jack Gioffre and Michael Gioffre would win by pin and tech fall, respectively, to push the score to 32-0. 

With just three matches left, it appeared as if the Cavaliers were intent on continuing to score as many points as possible. Sophomores Nick Sanko and Nick Hamilton both won by major decision to push the lead to 40 going into the last match, and Virginia ace, graduate Justin McCoy, won by tech fall to cap off a 45-0 win for the Cavaliers. With a resounding win under their belt to start conference play, morale was at an all-time high for Virginia. 

“The team looked really good tonight,” Coach Steve Garland said. “Maybe the best we’ve had all year. We had guys healthy again and I know that energized the team. The guys were looking for bonus points in every match. They need to continue to wrestle like that the rest of the season.”

While it is unclear if the Cavaliers will take this momentum all the way through to the end of the season, they certainly took it to the matchup against American. Virginia had only lost to the Eagles once before in team history, and they were determined to keep it that way. Montaperto, freshman Gable Porter and Jack Gioffre got the Cavaliers off to a hot start by winning their matches to give Virginia a 13-0 head start. Montaperto and Gioffre both won their matches by tech fall. 

While Michael Gioffre would go on to lose by a very narrow decision, the Cavaliers were not deterred. Senior Dylan Cedeno made his first appearance of the new year with a huge win by tech fall, which Hamilton and McCoy followed up with bonus point wins of their own. With just three matches left, Virginia was up by an insurmountable score of 27-3. 

The Eagles did not go out easy, as their sophomore Lucas White was able to beat Gammell to cut the lead to 27-6. However, bonus point wins by Kinsey and Catka sealed the deal and gave the Cavaliers their third win in their last four matches. Virginia has found their stride at this point in the season, which will be necessary in order to run through tough ACC play. 

“Man, the guys really looked great this weekend,” Garland said. “I’m really happy for them. Now we have a huge match coming up with a great team and have to move on quick.”

The Cavaliers will look to continue their hot streak Friday in the Commonwealth Clash against Virginia Tech. Virginia currently leads the clash 5.5-1, but the No. 12 Hokies will bring plenty of firepower for Virginia to deal with. The match will be broadcast on ACCNX at 7 p.m. 


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