ACC Wrestling Action Heats Up

15th-ranked North Carolina Travels to No. 12 Virginia Tech; 
No. 3 NC State Hosts No. 17 Virginia
Pitt Hosts No. 5 Oklahoma State;
Duke Heads West for Stanford, Cal Poly

Greensboro, N.C. ( - The ACC wrestling season heats up this weekend as 15th-ranked North Carolina, having won eight straight dual matches, travels to Blacksburg, Va., Saturday to face 12th-ranked Virginia Tech in a 7 p.m. contest at the Moss Arts Center.

The contest will be the first ACC match of the year for both teams.

The Tar Heels, led by a quintet of ranked wrestlers in junior Joey Ward (No. 8 at 141),senior Evan Henderson (No. 7 at 149), senior John Staudenmeyer (No. 13 at 165), sophomore Ethan Ramos (No. 2 at 174) and senior Alex Utley (No. 20 at 184) look to maintain their early season momentum under first-year coach Coleman Scott.

Virginia Tech, coached by Kevin Dresser, is looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to No. 18 Iowa State in the finals of the Virginia Duals last week. Tech was missing several members of its normal starting lineup in that dual match. The Hokies, who were ranked fifth nationally prior to the Iowa State loss, when healthy feature more ranked wrestlers than any other ACC team with eight members of their starting lineup ranked amongst the Top 20 in the nation this week by InterMat.

One match to keep an eye on for national attention will be the 174-pound bout, when second-ranked Ramos of UNC will take on No. 4 Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech.

On Sunday, Virginia, coached by Steve Garland and led by junior George DiCamillo (No. 6 at 133) and senior Zach Nye (No. 10 at 197), travels to Raleigh to face the unbeaten and third-ranked Wolfpack of Coach Pat Popolizio in a 1 p.m. match at Dorton Arena on the NC State Fairgrounds.

The Wolfpack, led by two-time national champion Nick Gwiazdowski at 285 pounds, have won 16 straight matches to start the season, including a win over Duke last week (34-9) in their ACC opener.
State features a lineup that has six nationally-ranked wrestlers in Gwiazdowski (No. 1), sophomore Kevin Jack (No. 3 at 141), senior Thomas Gantt (No. 6 at 157), junior Max Rohskopf (No. 4 at 165), junior Pete Renda (No. 16 at 184) and sophomore Michael Boykin (No. 17 at 197). 

The match will be the first ACC contest of the year for Virginia, which is the defending ACC Champion and will host this year’s ACC Wrestling Championships in Charlottesville on March 6.

Virginia Tech Switches Venues 
to the Moss Art Center

As they did a year ago, Virginia Tech will host a couple of wrestling dual matches in the more intimate Moss Arts Center on campus, instead of Cassell Coliseum.

Tech will hold two matches in the Center this weekend, hosting Northern Iowa on Friday night at 7 p.m., then taking on North Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Hokies will return to Cassell Coliseum on Jan. 29 when they host Big 12 member West Virginia in a 7 p.m. match that will be streamed live over ESPN3. 

Tech hosted three matches in the Moss Arts Center last year and won all three. The Hokies have not lost to North Carolina during the regular season since 2008 and haven’t dropped a match to UNI since 2005.

Northern Iowa has been ranked as high as No. 23 in the NWCA poll this year, but the Panthers are currently unranked.

Streaking Panthers Host 
No. 5 Oklahoma State

The Pitt Panthers are also enjoying a winning streak, having won six straight matches after an early-season loss at 10th-ranked Lehigh. Pitt, coached by Jason Peters, has rebounded to post a 9-1 overall record and 1-0 in the ACC, including a win over 15th-ranked Wisconsin.

That streak will be put to the test this Sunday when Pitt hosts fifth-ranked Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are 4-2, but the two losses were to No. 2 Iowa and the No. 3 NC State.

Pitt is ranked 18th nationally this week and is led by sophomore Dom Forys (No. 16 at 133), junior Mike Racciato (No. 5 at 141) and sophomore Ryan Solomon (No. 20 at 285).

Eight of the Oklahoma State potential starters are ranked among the top 20 in the nation at their respective weight classes in at least one poll, including a No. 1 rankings in all four polls for two-time national champion Alex Dieringer (165) and 2015 All-American Dean Heil (141). Dieringer enters the weekend having won 64 straight matches.

The 141-pound match should be one to watch with Heil, unbeaten and No. 1-ranked nationally, facing Racciato of Pitt, who is ranked 5th and has won 13 straight matches after a season-opening loss.
ACC teams are 6-1 versus teams from the Big 12 so far this year.

Duke Heads West; 
Faces Stanford, Cal Poly

The Duke Blue Devils, coached by Glen Lanham and led by senior Conner Hartmann, junior Jake Faust and sophomore Mitch Finesilver, head to California this weekend for a pair of dual matches at Stanford and at Cal Poly.

Duke faces the Cardinal Saturday in a 4 p.m. dual match and will then travel to Cal Poly for a 10 p.m. contest on Sunday. Both start times are Eastern.

Hartmann, who is 14-1 on the year, is ranked fifth nationally at 197 pounds. Faust is ranked 17th nationally at 165 pounds and Finesilver is ranked 19th at 149 pounds.

For the second time this month and third time this year, Faust will be facing Stanford’s Jim Wilson, who is ranked 12th nationally. Despite being ranked five spots lower than Wilson, Finesilver has beaten the Stanford wrestler both previous times, taking a 6-2 decision on Nov. 8 in the Hokie Open and a 6-1 triumph on Jan. 2 in the Southern Scuffle.

The Blue Devils enter the week with a 1-4 overall recoord and 0-2 in the ACC.