Beyond the ACCtion: Championship Day for ACC Wrestling
March 7, 2009
Special correspondent Bryan Johnston and company keep you updated on action at the 2009 ACC Wrestling Championship in Blacksburg, Va. Be sure to check back for updates throughout the day!
Annnd we’re on to the finals – We’re down to one mat and now it’s time to crown our 10 individual champions. It’s been a long day with very few … and short … breaks for all of us working, but the action has been non-stop and exciting throughout. Several bids were handed out in the third-place matches, including one to NC State’s Darrius Little at 133 pounds, UVa’s Kellon Balum at 149 pounds, Virginia’s Jedd Moore at 157 pounds and Tech’s David Marone at heavyweight.
Maryland pulled ahead and barring some major upsets, the Terps are in good position to capture their second-straight conference crown. Tech has five guys in the finals to Maryland’s four and the two will meet at 125 pounds and 141 pounds, but it may Maryland’s big three may have done enough for the Terps to grab the crown again.
This is going to be the last entry. Check back after the finals for the complete recap on the Championship page, along with final brackets, scores, qualifiers and the announcement of the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
A Breakdown of the NCAA Qualifying System - I mentioned earlier today about the NCAA Qualifying System in place this year. The past few years, the NCAA has gone by historical data in determining the 330 qualifiers at the NCAA event. In other words, what ACC wrestlers did five years ago at the NCAA Championships was a big factor in how many spots the conference got this season. Makes no sense, huh? That’s why it’s changed this year and early returns seem to show it’ll be a huge boost for the ACC.
Last year, the ACC got 14 qualifiers, which meant the 10 winners and four wild cards selected by the coaches were all that got to go. Consider this year that there are five ranked wrestlers alone at 141 pounds, in years’ past obviously some of them would have stayed home. But this year, the ACC gets nearly double those 14 spots as at least 27 wrestlers will qualify. After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 52 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 11.
Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking. A threshold of a 0.725 winning percentage, top 28 in the RPI and top 28 in the coaches ranking was established to allocate 278 of the 330 championships field positions.
For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class. Each qualifying tournament was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which will go to the tournament champion, even if they did not have any wrestlers reach at least two of the three thresholds. NCAA tournament spots for each qualifying event will be awarded at the tournament based solely on place-finish. So for the ACC, since it gets three spots at 157 pounds, the champion, runner up and third-place wrestler qualify, while at 125 pounds, just the champion and runner-up go since just two spots are allocated for the ACC there.
All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; qualifying event placement; quality wins; results against common opponents; winning percentage; RPI; coaches ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class.
For the ACC, 27 automatic spots is nearly double of the 14 spots it received last year. The only weight classes that will send only one wrestler automatically are the 165 and 174-pound classes.
Here’s the breakdown of the automatic qualifiers for the Atlantic Coast Conference:
We’re headed to the third-place matches quickly and it’s still a tight battle for the title between Maryland and Virginia Tech. This next set of matches is huge. Stay tuned!
Through the Semifinal Round - The temperature is a record-high 77 degrees in Blacksburg today, but the action inside Cassell Coliseum is red hot as we roll along at the Championships. Several bouts came down to the wire and several ended in pins, which were met by thunderous approval. Even more went to sudden victory and first and second overtimes, testing the nerves of the coaches … and clockworkers. The match of the round had to be at 157 pounds, where top-seeded Kody Hamrah of NC State had to go into a third overtime, or over 12 minutes, for the win over UNC’s Thomas Scotton, 3-2. At 184 pounds, Tech’s Tommy Spellman picked up a stalling point and a takedown with seven seconds left to come back and beat UNC’s Daniel Llamas, which sent the home fans into a hullabaloo.
The finals are now set and in a little of four hours from now, 20 wrestlers will compete for those 10 precious individual titles. We still have two consolation rounds left, but it appears to be a three-team race between Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Maryland.
Tech has the most wrestlers in the finals with five, followed by Maryland, UNC and UVa with four each. Pay particular attention to the finals at 165 and 174 pounds as the winner is the only one guaranteed a spot at the NCAAs.
There are going to be some interesting matchups in the finals between contending schools. Virginia Tech and Maryland will match up at 125, 141 pounds, Tech and UNC met four times in the semifinals with the two splitting, and North Carolina and Maryland will butt heads at 133. Tech and UVa will also meet up twice (174 and 184 pounds). It’s a little after 3 o’clock and we’ll start two rounds of wrestlebacks here in about 30 minutes.
ACC Select is up and broadcasting matches for free, so be sure to catch all the action online if you can’t be here. And the live brackets, with updated team scores after each round, are also up to date. We’re going to explain the new qualifier system here in a bit, too.
We’ll be back in a little bit, so be sure to check back later.
Through the First Round - We are catching our breath after a frantic first round here in the Cassell. Two mats, 10 weight classes, 18 matches and we are finally done with the first round. No real big upsets, but exciting action all around. We’re gonna take a little break here to feed us hungry table workers and then the semifinals will begin around 1 o’clock. That’s where a good chunk of the team title will be determined.
Look for a lot of Virginia Tech/UNC matches in the semifinals, which could go a long way in determining the title. But don’t rule out Maryland as they have three No. 1 seeds. Duke, Virginia and NC State, along with the other three, are all still lurking and searching for that team title.
Be sure to check out the Championship page for the updated brackets and team scores after this round. And the live brackets are about as fast a way to find out the results.
One final note, for a first round, there’s a pretty good crowd here and administrators expect it to pick up here in the afternoon on this gorgeous day in the New River Valley.
Off to chow down. Be back in a bit!
Pre-Championship - For anyone who’s a fan of college wrestling, this time of year is like Christmas to you. You have the conference and regional tournaments this weekend and in two weeks, one of the most underrated college experiences will take place in St. Louis, Mo. That would be the 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships. If you want a jam-packed and loud arena, with some great excitement on eight mats, the NCAA meet is for you. There’s nothing quite like experiencing 18,000 fans rooting for some unknown kid from a small school who’s taking on a top dog from one of the favorites, or rooting against the kid from the big school! And if the upset happens … prepare for the roof to be blown off.
But that’s in two weeks. But to get to that stage, you have to qualify and that’s why we’re here today. Fifty-eight wrestlers in 10 weight classes will compete over the next 10 hours for 27 automatic spots allotted for the ACC. I’ll be sure to talk about the new NCAA Qualifying System later on, but we have all day!
So welcome to Blacksburg, Va., and Cassell Coliseum for today’s ACC Wrestling Championships hosted by Virginia Tech. I’ll be with you all day to post some updates as we go along, give you some thoughts and interesting nuggets as the day rolls along.
The music is pumping and the crowd is streaming in at a pretty good pace for today’s event. We should be starting soon. The little guys will take the mats first, but we’ll have just one first round match at 125 pounds as only five wrestlers are entered. We’ll move through the next nine weight classes on two mats until we’re done. We’ll take a break and do it again … and again … and a few more times until we crown 10 individual champions and a team champ.
Be sure to check out the live brackets on theACC.com, ACC Select and thoughts here as we try to give you the best coverage possible.