CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. The Virginia wrestling team kicks off 2008 at home Saturday, playing host to the Virginia Intercollegiate Championships. It will mark the first-ever college wrestling competition at John Paul Jones Arena. First-round action on three mats begins at 9:30 a.m. Finals are scheduled for 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.
The Apprentice School, George Mason, Liberty, No. 24 Old Dominion and VMI join the Cavaliers to form the field. Eight nationally-ranked wrestlers will participate in the competition. Virginia has a season-high four wrestlers ranked after the Cavaliers’ performance last weekend at the Southern Scuffle. Old Dominion also features a lineup of four nationally-ranked wrestlers.
Rocco Caponi (Jr., Uniontown, Ohio) boasts the Cavaliers’ highest national mark of No. 8 at 184 pounds in the InterMat rankings. Eric Albright (Jr., York, Pa.) is 15th at 133 pounds, while Brent Jones (So., Burke, Va.) moved into the rankings this week at No. 19 at 197 pounds after defeating two nationally-ranked opponents last week. Michael Chaires (Fr., Scotia, N.Y.) is ranked 13th nationally this week at 165 pounds by W.I.N. Magazine.
There are several giveaways during the day, including t-shirts and prizes. There will be a special UVa team video shown at approximately 4:30 p.m. prior to the finals at 5 p.m.
Virginia finished second at the 2007 event. Old Dominion scored 196 points to take the title, followed by UVa with 179 points. Albright (133), Caponi (184), Mike Grogan (174) and Scott Smith (heavyweight) all captured titles for the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers come off a solid performance last week at the Southern Scuffle, taking sixth in the 28-team field with 91.5 points. Virginia had three wrestlers reach the championship matches of their respective weight classes second only to third-ranked Minnesota, who had five wrestlers in the championship round. Chaires, Caponi and Jones all reached the finals, but dropped their championship matches, with Chaires and Caponi each falling in one-point decisions. Ross Gitomer (So., Flemington, N.J.) finished fourth at 125 pounds and had a team-high seven wins over the weekend.
Caponi enters the weekend with a 21-1 record and leads the team in victories this season. He is just two shy of recording his 100th career win. Caponi also is one of 15 Cavaliers who have won 10 or more matches this season.
Virginia hits the road again next weekend, traveling to Hampton, Va., to compete in the Virginia Duals.