Maryland Wins First ACC Wrestling Championship Since 1973
March 8, 2008 (updated March 9)
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Maryland Terrapins claimed the 2008 ACC Wrestling Championship to win its first conference tournament title since 1973. The Terps edged Virginia by two points in the final standings and had five individual champions on the evening. North Carolina finished third.
It is the first time a team outside the state of North Carolina has won a tournament championship since 1977.
Entering the finals, the top three teams were separated by just seven points. Virginia led with 78.5 while North Carolina was right behind with 74.0. Maryland sat in third place with 71.5 points but had the most wrestlers in the finals with six. The Tar Heels had five while Virginia placed four in the finals.
Ross Gitomer started the championship round with an 8-3 decision in the 125 pound title match but then Maryland's Steven Bell edged Darrius Little of NC State, 6-5, to win the 133 pound championship.
Jon Kohler, the No. 5 seed for Maryland at 141 pounds, beat a better seed in every match on his way to the conference title. He first beat No. 3 Chris Diaz of Virginia Tech, 6-0, and then beat the second seed Nick Stabile of North Carolina, 5-2. In the final, he topped Virginia's Nick Nelson, the fourth seed, 3-0, in an important win over the Cavaliers.
The 149 pound championship featured Maryland's Eric Medina and NC State's Darrion Caldwell, the two top seeds in the bracket. Caldwell overpowered the freshman, though, and claimed a 12-2 major decision.
In the 157 pound title match, freshman Brian Letters of Maryland won the championship with a tight 3-2 decision. Virginia Tech's Matt Epperly, voted the tournament's Most Valuable Wrestler, upset the top three seeds en route to his championship at 165 pounds. He defeated No. 2 Mike Chaires of Virginia, No. 3 Addison Nuding of Duke, and took down top-seeded Keegan Mueller of North Carolina for the title.
Sophomore Mike Letts claimed his second-straight ACC title at 174 pounds, beating Virginia's Chris Henrich in the final, 4-3, in a closely contested bout and Virginia's Rocco Caponi cruised to the 184 pound championship, winning 6-4 in the semifinals and 7-2 against Ryan Goodman of NC State.
Sophomore Hudson Taylor sealed the win for the Terps with his 10-5 decision at 197 pounds, pushing Maryland past the Cavaliers to win the team championship.
Justin Dobies of North Carolina finished up the evening with a 4-3 win at heavyweight to win his conference title.
The 10 individual champions will go on to represent their schools in the NCAA Championship. Additional four wild cards, determined on Sunday morning (March 9) by the coaches, will go to the NCAA Championship: Ryan Goodman, NC State; Chris Henrich, Virginia; Eric Medina, Maryland; and Keegan Mueller, North Carolina.
2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Finals
NCAA Wild Cards (Determined Sunday, March 9)