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March 5, 2011
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - For the third time in four seasons, the Maryland Terrapins own the Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestling Championship.
The Terps triumphed in five of the six weight class finals in which they competed on Saturday night to break open a tight battle with ACC regular-season champion Virginia Tech and finish atop the 2011 field. A crowd of 1,986 at the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena watched the Terps claim their second title under head coach Kerry McCoy and their ACC-leading 23rd wrestling championship in school history.
Maryland's 15h-ranked Mike Letts was voted the 57th-annual event's Most Valuable Wrestler after capturing his third career title at 174 pounds. Letts won a showdown with fourth-ranked and two-time All-American and defending weight class champion Chris Henrich by a 4-2 score in a match that keyed the Terps' fast finish.
Maryland finished with 94.5 team points, followed by Virginia Tech with 82.5, Virginia with 69, North Carolina with 37, NC State with 34.5 and Duke with nine.
In addition to Letts' key victory, Maryland received winning efforts in the finals from Jon Kohler at 141 pounds, Josh Asper at 165, Corey Peltier at 184 and Spencer Myers at heavyweight.
Buoyed by strong showings in the opening and consolation rounds, Maryland took a 7.5-point lead (79.5-72) over second-place Virginia Tech into the championship bouts. But the Hokies quickly tied the scoring with wins in the first two weight classes.
Virginia Tech junior Jarrod Garnett successfully defended his 125-pound championship in dramatic fashion, scoring a takedown of Virginia's Matt Snyder to take a 6-4 sudden victory.
Freshman Devin Carter kept the momentum going for the Hokies in the second match of the final by scoring the first technical fall of the 2011 Championship. Carter downed Virginia's Joe Spisak by a 19-4 margin to claim the 133-pound title.
The Terps reclaimed the lead in another sudden-victory match at 141, as the top-seeded Kohler recorded a takedown of NC State's Darrius Little with 14 seconds remaining in the extra period.
After a one-year absence due to taking a medical redshirt year in 2010, NC State All-American Darrion Caldwell became the sixth wrestler to claim four ACC titles with a 6-3 win over Virginia's Derek Valenti at 149. The top-ranked Caldwell, the 2009 NCAA champion, fought off a tough challenge from Valenti and a third-period injury timeout for a 5-3 lead on a takedown with just two seconds left in regulation. Valenti had tied the match at 3-3 with 14 seconds remaining, when Caldwell was called for stalling.
The 157-pound final was a rematch of 2010, which saw Virginia Tech's Jesse Dong edge Maryland's Kyle John by a 7-5 score. This year's match proved equally intense, but Dong took an early 5-0 lead and went on to defend his title with a 6-3 win that tied the match again at 82.5-all.
That made the 165-pound match between the Terps' top-seeded Josh Asper and the Hokies' second-seeded Pete Yates all the more important. Asper met the challenge with a 9-3 victory that put Maryland in front to stay.
Henrich and Letts, a fifth-year senior, have combined to win the last five ACC Championships at 174 pounds. Letts claimed the title in 2007 and 2008 before Henrich won in both 2009 and 2010. Letts' win in Saturday night's rubber match continued the late Maryland surge that culminated with the wins by Peltier at 184 and Myers at heavyweight.
Twenty ACC wrestlers automatically qualified for the 2011 NCAA Championships with their showings on Saturday, and additional student-athletes are hopeful of receiving berths when at-large selections are announced this Wednesday (March 9). The NCAA Championships will be held at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Arena on March 17-19.MOST VALUABLE WRESTLER
2011 ACC CHAMPIONSHIP WEIGHT CLASS FINALS
(Each weight class winner and runner-up named All-ACC)
125 - Jarrod Garnett (VT) def. Matt Snyder (VA), 6-4 (SV)
133 - Devin Carter (VT) tech. fall Joe Spisak (VA), 19-4
141 - Jon Kohler (MD) def. Darrius Little (NCS), 3-1 (SV)
149 - Darrion Caldwell (NCS) def. Derek Valenti (VA), 6-3
157 - Jesse Dong (VT) def. Kyle John (MD), 6-3
165 - Josh Asper (MD) def. Pete Yates (VT), 9-3
174 - Mike Letts (MD) def. Chris Henrich (VA), 4-2
184 - Corey Peltier (MD) def. Diego Bencomo (DU), 3-1
197 - Zac Bennett (NC) def. Chris Penny (VT), 9-5
285 - Spencer Myers (MD) def. David Marone (VT), 3-2 (TB2)
NCAA AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS
125 pounds (2)
Jarrod Garnett, Virginia Tech
Matt Snyder, Virginia
133 pounds (1)
Devin Carter, Virginia Tech
141 pounds (3)
Jon Kohler, Maryland
Darrius Little, NC State
Nick Nelson, Virginia
149 pounds (2)
Darrion Caldwell, NC State
Derek Valenti, Virginia
157 pounds (3)
Jesse Dong, Virginia Tech
Kyle John, Maryland
Corey Mock, North Carolina
165 pounds (2)
Josh Asper, Maryland
Pete Yates, Virginia Tech
174 pounds (2)
Chris Henrich, Virginia
Mike Letts, Maryland
184 pounds (3)
Diego Bencomo, Duke
Corey Peltier, Maryland
Jon Fausey, Virginia
197 pounds (1)
Zac Bennett, North Carolina
Spencer Myers, Maryland