ACC Wrestling Update: No. 5 Virginia Tech, No. 4 NC State Head to National Duals

Hokies Travel to No. 8 Michigan; Wolfpack Trek to No. 2 Iowa; Hokies Claim Second Straight Regular-Season ACC Title
(Team rankings refer to NWCA national poll; individual rankings are from InterMat)

Virginia Tech, fresh off capturing its second straight ACC regular season title, received an invitation to the 2016 NWCA National Duals Championship Series and will face eighth-ranked Michigan Sunday at Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor Michigan in a match that will begin at 2 p.m. (ET).

The Hokies are one of two ACC teams that earned invitations to the prestigious event, as NC State will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, to face the second-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes next Monday at Carver Hawkeye Arena in an 8 p.m. match.
    Both matches will be streamed live on BTN2GO.

The two matches headline a busy weekend for ACC wrestling teams in their final competition before the 2016 ACC Championship, which will be held on Sunday, March 6 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.

Virginia, ranked 20th this week, and Pitt, which is tied for 24th, begin the four days of wrestling on Friday night (7 p.m.) with the final ACC dual match of the year at Pitt’s Fitzgerald Fieldhouse. The match will be streamed live by ESPN3

The winner of the match will tie North Carolina for third place in the final regular season ACC standings, with the loser dropping into a tie with  Duke for fifth place.

The dual is a rescheduling of a match originally set for January 24, but postponed due to a massive winter storm.

Duke then follows with a pair of road non-conference duals against Big Ten foes. The Blue Devils travel to Northwestern on Friday for an 8 p.m. match at the Wildcats’ Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill. Duke then continues on to West Lafayette, Ind., to face 23rd-ranked Purdue on Sunday in a 1 p.m. dual match.

North Carolina, ranked 14th nationally,  also faces a pair of non-conference teams on the road, travelling to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face third-ranked Oklahoma State on Friday night (8 p.m., ET) at Gallagher-Iba Arena. The Cowboys are currently 12-2 and have won 10 straight dual matches, since dropping a 19-15 decision to NC State in Stillwater on December 5. 

The Tar Heels will then travel back to Charleston, S.C., to face The Citadel at McAlister Fieldhouse in a 2 p.m. dual. The match is the final regular season dual for both teams. The Citadel is 5-9 overall.

    Pitt will then complete its regular season schedule, travelling to  Clarion, Pa., for a Sunday (2 p.m.) dual against the Golden Eagles in Tippin Gym. Clarion, a member of the Eastern Wrestling League, is 6-11 overall.  

Cavaliers, Panthers Tangle in Final Regular Season ACC Dual

Pitt and Virginia will be both trying to snap losing streaks and enter the postseason on a positive note when they meet in a dual meet this Friday at Fitzgerald Fieldhouse. The match will be streamed live by ESPN3

    Originally this match was to be played on January 24 but had to be postponed due to inclement weather that dropped almost two feet of snow on Charlottesville.

    The Panthers of coach Jason Peters have lost five straight dual matches, but four of the five losses have been to teams ranked 13th or higher in the NWCA weekly rankings.

    Pitt is led by Mike Racciato, who is ranked 10th nationally at 141 pounds, and Dom Forys, who is 17th nationally at 133.

    Virginia, which has lost its last two duals, is looking to rebound behind a lineup led by George DiCamillo, who is ranked sixth nationally at 133; Andrew Atkinson at 157 and Zach Nye, who is ranked 13th nationally at 197.

    The Cavaliers under coach Steve Garland, are the defending ACC Wrestling Champions and will host the this year’s ACC Championship on March 6.

Virginia Tech, Michigan Square Off in NWCA National Duals

     Virginia Tech, ranked fifth nationally after clinching the ACC regular season title with a 19-14 win over then No. 3 NC State last Friday, heads to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a match against the eighth-ranked Wolverines.

    Michigan, coached by Joe McFarland, features a lineup with seven ranked wrestlers, led by unbeaten heavyweight Adam Coon, who is 15-0 and ranked fourth nationally. Coon will be facing Tech’s Ty Walz, who is ranked third nationally. The two faced off earlier this year in the NWCA All-Star Classic in Atlanta in a preseason match in which Walz scored a 9-3 decision.

    Tech’s Zach Zavatsky, ranked seventh nationally this week, will also be facing a rematch with Michigan’s Dominic Abounader at 184 pounds, who is ranked No. 2 nationally. Zavatsky dropped a hard-fought, 5-4 decision to Abounader in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Cliff Keen Invitational last December 5th.

    The Hokies, coached by Kevin Dresser and winner of their last eight dual matches, feature a lineup with eight nationally ranked wrestlers, including Joey Dance (No. 3 at 125), Solomon Chishko (No. 8 at 141), Nick Brascetta (No. 5 at 157), David McFadden )(No. 14 at 165), Zach Epperly (No. 3 at 174) and Jared Haught (No. 7 at 197).

No. 4 NC State Faces Tough Test At No. 2 Iowa in NWCA Duals

     Making its first appearance in the NWCA National Duals Championship Series, fourth-ranked NC State, coached by Pat Popolizio, will be facing its third dual against a Top Ten opponent in 10 days when it faces the second-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa City next Monday.

    State dropped a 19-14 decision to No. 8 Virginia Tech last Friday and then rebounded with an 18-17 triumph over fifth-ranked Missouri on Sunday.

    Iowa, coached by Tom Brands, is one of two teams still unbeaten this year with a 16-0 record. The Hawkeyes feature a lineup with seven nationally-ranked wrestlers, but four of them are ranked fourth or higher  in Thomas Gilman (No. 2 at 125), Cory Clark (No. 3 at 133), Brandon Sorensen (No. 2 at 149) and Nathan Burak (No. 4 at 197) with a fifth wrestler, Alex Meyer at 174, who is ranked 10th nationally.

    State, which is 22-1 on the year, is led by two-time defending national champion Nick Gwiazdowski at 285, third-ranked Kevin Jack at 141,  fifth-ranked Thomas Gantt at 157, and sixth-ranked Max Rohskopf at 165.
    The dual will feature four individual rematches from the regular season that saw State and Iowa each win two of the prior meetings.

    Gantt took a 17-6 major decision from Iowa’s Edwin Cooper at 157 pounds in the quarterfinals of the Midlands Invitational on December 30. Cooper is now ranked 18th nationally.

    NC State’s Pete Renda was edged by Iowa’s Sammy Brooks, 8-7, at 184 pounds in the consolation semifinals of the Midlands. Brooks is now ranked 10th nationally while Renda is 16th.

    The Wolfpack’s Michael Boykin, ranked 14th nationally this week, dropped an 8-2 decision to Iowa’s Nathan Burak at 197 pounds in the quarterfinals of the Midlands. Burak is ranked fourth nationally.

    Finally, Gwiazdowski, who has won 81 consecutive matches, the longest current streak in the nation, recorded a 10-1 major decision over Iowa’s Sam Stoll in the semifinals of the Midlands. Gwiazdowski is ranked No. 1 nationally, while Stoll is now ranked seventh. Stoll has won 10 straight matches since his loss to Gwiazdowski and is now 21-2 on the season.

    State is 8-1 against ranked teams in dual meets this year, including a 3-0 mark against non-conference teams ranked 11th or better. Earlier this year, the Wolfpack defeated fourth-ranked Oklahoma State and 11th-ranked Nebraska on the road, and also defeated fifth-ranked Missouri at home.

No. 14 Tar Heels Travel To No. 3 Oklahoma State and The Citadel To Close Out Regular Season

   North Carolina, 14th-ranked this week, closes out its regular season with a pair of nonconference road duals. The Tar Heels of first-year coach Coleman Scott travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face the third-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys this Friday night.

    Oklahoma State, coached by John Smith, is 12-2 this year and has won 10 straight dual matches. The Cowboys feature a potent lineup  of eight nationally-ranked wrestlers, led by a pair who are ranked No. 1 nationally in two-time NCAA champion Alex Dieringer at 165 and Dean Heil at 141.

    That sets up a pair of interesting matchups with UNC’s Joey Ward, ranked ninth nationally at 141, and John Michael Staudenmeyer, who is No. 11 at 165.
    Dieringer defeated Staudenmeyer earlier this year by fall at the 1:14 mark of their bout in the semifinals of the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 2.
    Ramos recorded a 6-5 win over OSU’s Kyle Crutchmer at 174 pounds earlier this year in the semifinals of the Southern Scuffle. Crutchmer is ranked eighth nationally, while Ramos is ranked No. 2.

    Finally, Oklahoma State’s Nathan Boyd had a major decision over UNC’s Alex Utley (15-2) at 184 pounds in the consolations of the Southern Scuffle, also on Jan. 2. Utley is ranked 19th nationally this week, while Boyd is ranked 13th.

    Oklahoma State has faced two other ACC schools this year. NC State defeated the then fourth-ranked  Cowboys in Stillwater on December 5. OSU then defeated Pitt, 36-0, on January 17.

Blue Devils Travel to Northwestern,  No. 23 Purdue

    Duke, coached by Glen Lanham, closes out its regular season with a pair of road duals against Big Ten foes Northwestern and Purdue.

    The Blue Devils are 5-8 overall on the year and feature a lineup that includes three nationally-ranked wrestlers this week. 

    Senior Conner Hartmann, from Orchard Park, Wash., leads the way ranked fifth nationally at 197 pounds. He is 22-1 overall and has won 14 straight matches.

    Sophomore Mitch Finesilver, from Greenwood Village, Col., is ranked 10th nationally at 149 pounds. He is 24-5 overall and has won 13 straight matches. Against Northwestern, he will be facing the nation’s seventh-ranked wrestler in Jason Tsirtsis.

    Junior Jake Faust, from Lexington, Ohio, is ranked 18th nationally this week at 165 pounds. He is 15-6 overall and against Purdue will face Chad Welch, who is ranked eighth nationally.

    Purdue, ranked 23rd this week, is coached by Tony Ersland, and is led by Welch, whose twin brother Doug wrestles at 157 and younger brother Luke wrestles at 125 for the Boilermakers.

    Purdue is 8-6 overall pending a Friday night dual against SIU-Edwardsville. All six of the Boilermaker losses have been to nationally-ranked teams.

    Northwestern, coached by interim head coach Matt Storniolo, features a lineup with three ranked wrestlers, including Tsirtsis, Jameson Oster, who is ranked 19th nationally at 141; and Dominic Malone, who is ranked 19th at 133. 

    The Wildcats are just 1-12 overall, but seven of the losses have been to ranked teams, with five of those teams in the Top 10.