Greensboro, N.C. - The Atlantic Coast Conference begins its 64th season of intercollegiate wrestling competition this Saturday, when defending champion Virginia Tech hosts a pair of dual matches against Edinboro (1 p.m.) and VMI (3 p.m.) in Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Later that evening, four ACC wrestlers will take part in the NWCA All-Star Classic in the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio.
A year ago, four ACC wrestlers—Max Rohskopf, of NC State, Ty Walz of Virginia Tech, Connor Hartman of Duke and Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech—used wins in the event as a springboard into one of the most successful seasons in ACC wrestling history.
This year, Rohskopf (157) and Walz (285) return and are joined by North Carolina’s Ethan Ramos (174) in the main event matches, while Virginia’s George DiCamillo (141) will compete in the undercard event, which begins at 7 p.m.
Rohskopf, ranked fifth nationally at 157 pounds by InterMat, will face fourth-ranked Brian Murphy of Michigan.
Ramos, ranked fifth at 174 pounds by InterMat, will face ninth-ranked Zac Brunson of Illinois.
Walz, who is rated second nationally at 285 by InterMat, will face third-ranked Connor Medberry of Wisconsin and DiCamillo, who is ranked 10th nationally at 141, will be facing No. 15 Brock Zacherl of Clarion.
The NWCA Classic is just one event of a busy opening weekend for ACC schools as five of the conference’s six wrestling teams are in action on the first week of the season.
Duke, coached by Glen Lanham, and North Carolina, coached by Coleman Scott, will join Tech in the Southeast Open in Roanoke, Virginia, on Sunday. Also on Sunday, Pitt, coached by Jason Peters, opens at the Mountaineer Duals in Morgantown, West Virginia, meeting Campbell and Ohio in dual matches and Virginia, coached by Steve Garland, will be at the Clarion (Pa.) Open.
NC State, coached by Pat Popolizio, will not open the 2016 season as a team until Nov. 13 when they compete in the Journeyman/ASICS Collegiate Classic in Troy, N.Y.
In all, ACC teams return eight All-Americas. Two other returning All-Americas—NC State’s Pete Renda and Virginia Tech’s David McFadden—will take redshirt seasons this year.
The Hokies, coached by Kevin Dresser and ranked sixth nationally in the first NWCA poll, feature a stellar returning lineup that includes five former All-Americas in Joey Dance (126), Solomon Chishko (149), Zach Epperly (174), Jared Haught (197) and Walz. Additionally, sophomore Zack Zavatsky is ranked 10th nationally at 184 pounds.
NC State, coached by Pat Popolizio, is ranked ninth in the first NWCA/USA today poll. It is led by Rohskopf, junior Kevin Jack, who is ranked sixth nationally at 141 pounds and senior Sam Speno, who is No. 15 at 149 pounds. Two other Wolfpack wrestlers were ranked in InterMat’s preseason rankings in sophomore Sean Fausz, who is 19th at 125, and redshirt sophomore Jamal Morris, who is 18th at 133 pounds
Pitt, ranked 23rd in the NWCA/USA Today poll, returns a pair of nationally-ranked wrestlers in junior Dom Forys, who is ranked ninth at 133 pounds, and junior Ryan Solomon, who is 15th at 285. Mikey Racciato, a 2015 ACC champion at 149, returns to that weight class and adds experience to a starting lineup that will likely include at least two freshmen.
North Carolina, ranked 25th nationally in the NWCA/USA Today poll, is led by a trio of wrestlers ranked 13th or better by InterMat. Senior All-America Joey Ward is ranked fifth nationally at 141 pounds, while junior All-America Ethan Ramos is also ranked fifth nationally at 174. Junior Chip Ness returns at 197 pounds, where he is ranked 13th nationally.
Virginia will be led by a trio of veterans in Georgia DiCamillo at 141, who is ranked 10th nationally, and a pair of redshirt juniors in Andrew Atkinson at 157 pounds and Tyler Ashley, at either 174 or 184 pounds. DiCamillo is a three ACC champion at 133 pounds who will be competing up a class this year at 141. Atkinson was 24-11 last year and is a two-time NCAA qualifier. Ashley finished third at last year’s ACC championships at 174.
Duke will be led by junior Jake Faust, who is ranked 14th nationally at 165 pounds, redshirt sophomore Zach Finesilver at 141 and redshirt junior Jacob Kasper, who will be wrestling at 285 this season, after competing at 184. All three have been named team captains for the Blue Devils.