After a rough loss in the Commonwealth Clash, the Virginia wrestling team had a week off before their toughest match yet, a Friday road trip down to face NC State. The No. 8 Wolfpack (13-2, 3-0 ACC) boast ranked wrestlers in every class, and it showed in their dominant 38-3 victory over the Cavaliers (7-4, 1-2 ACC).
The dual opened up in the 157-lbs weight class, meaning Virginia would look to sophomore Nick Sanko to start them off with some points. Unfortunately, Sanko lost a tough match 9-1, which ended up giving NC State extra points for a major decision win. Next, sophomore Nick Hamilton held the 13th ranked wrestler in his class, sophomore Derek Fields, to a tight match. In the end, Fields won 11-7, giving the Wolfpack a 7-0 lead.
Determined to come back, the Cavaliers needed something to turn momentum around and give them a chance to make up the deficit. Right on cue, Virginia graduate Justin McCoy gave them a big win. McCoy won in a tight 3-0 decision, but nonetheless the Cavaliers were now within striking distance, with the score being 7-3.
Unfortunately, the momentum gained by McCoy was lost almost immediately. Virginia utilized fifth-year Ethan Weatherspoon in the 184-lbs class for the first time in conference play this season, and he could not come up with a win. The deficit expanded even further by the next two matches, both of which were major decision losses for the Cavaliers of 14 and eight points. With the weight classes turning back around to the 125-lbs class, Virginia was down 18-3 with just four matches to go.
Now was do-or-die time for the Cavaliers. To win or tie the dual, they would need to win at least three of the last four matches and get bonus points in each. In the one matchup without ranked wrestlers on either side, Virginia was relying on sophomore Kyle Montaperto to get the job done. However, they would not get that crucial win. Montaperto lost by tech fall, which made the deficit 20 points and the match officially out of hand.
There were still three matches to go, and while the Cavaliers wanted to make the match respectable and show their grit, but the wheels fell off. Junior Marlon Yarbrough II, who had sported a solid 11-5 record for the season coming into the day, ended up getting pinned by his opponent after getting caught in a bad position. Sophomore Jack Gioffre lost by major decision to his opponent, fourth ranked 141-lbs wrestler junior Ryan Jack, which made the deficit a whopping thirty points. In the final match of the day, junior Kyren Butler lost by tech fall to third ranked 149-lbs wrestler sophomore Jackson Arrington. The final result read 38-3.
While the match’s result was not unlike the previous Virginia Tech one, the way Virginia looked between the two matchups was a night-and-day difference. The Cavaliers were losing close in every match in the Commonwealth Clash but almost never came close against NC State. No team can ever expect to win a dual when giving up seven losses with bonus points, and Virginia will have to be better about that if they are to pick up wins in their last two ACC matches.
“We have to tighten up our technique,” Coach Steve Garland said. “We’re still making really bad mistakes that are blowing matches open and we can’t have that.”
The Cavaliers will look to get back on track in ACC play with a Senior Night match against North Carolina Friday. The dual will be broadcast on ACC Network and will start at 8:30 p.m.