The Virginia wrestling team (18-5, 3-2 ACC) stood toe-to-toe with the No. 22 Maryland Terrapins (15-4, 5-0 ACC) today in Memorial Gymnasium as both teams won five of the ten bouts contested, but the visitors edged the Cavaliers 16-15 on the strength of a major decision in the match.
"It was the craziest, most intense dual meet I’ve ever been involved in," Virginia head coach Steve Garland said. "I had people come up to me after the match saying it was the most intense match they have ever seen. But it was an absolute heartbreaker for us. If this doesn’t show our guys they can win the ACC title, then nothing will. Maryland is an awesome team and we went toe-to-toe with them.
"This program needed a dual meet like that. We haven’t had such a hard-fought, gritty dual like that in a long time. We need that kind of competition and this will help us in the long run. This showed our improvement from the start of the year to now. Maryland beat (current No. 12) Michigan earlier this season and we showed that we could wrestle with them. Obviously I wanted to win the ACC dual meet title, but I am so proud of our guys right now. We saw the level in which our guys can wrestle."
Starting with a Virginia win at 165, the two teams traded victories until the Terrapins won consecutive matches at 141 and 149. Drew DiPasquale, wrestling in the final bout of the day at 157 and in front of his home crowd for the final time, won 7-5 to pull the Cavaliers within one.
After Virginia’s Michael Chaires opened the match with a 4-3 decision at 165 over Mike McGill, the contest featured three consecutive bouts between two wrestlers ranked in the top-20 nationally. At 174, Maryland’s Mike Letts, ranked No. 9 nationally, edged No. 18 Chris Henrich for the Cavaliers 3-1 to tie the match at 3-3. Virginia’s Rocco Caponi, ranked No. 11, took down his opponent, No. 19 Josh Haines, with six seconds to go in the third period to win 3-2 and put the Cavaliers back on top. At 197, Maryland’s Hudson Taylor (No. 5 nationally) improved his record to 27-2 with a 10-2 major decision over No. 20 Brent Jones from Virginia, putting the Terps on top 7-6.
Virginia’s John Danilkowicz moved his team back on top as he notched a takedown and picked up two back points in the first period to take a 4-0 lead in the first period against Maryland’s Patrick Gilmore. The second-year held on for the 5-2 win to give Virginia a 9-7 lead. At 125, Ross Gitomer lost a 5-4 decision in the second tiebreak to Maryland’s Brendan Byrne after notching the first takedown of the bout early in the first period.
At 133, Virginia’s Eric Albright, ranked 17th nationally, won after holding a four-second advantage in riding time in the second set of tiebreaks. The second-year escaped after 16 seconds in the second round of extra time and then rode Steven Bell from Maryland for 20 seconds in the next period to claim the 2-1 victory.
Maryland won the next two bouts as Jon Kohler defeated Nick Nelson 5-4 thanks to a two-minute advantage in riding time at 141; at 149 Eric Medina bested Shawn Harris 11-4.
DiPasquale, who had been honored at the start of the match as part of the fourth-year day festivities, fell behind early as Brian Letters notched a takedown in the first period. DiPasquale escaped to trail 2-1 after the first period. Letters started down in the second period and the two traded reversals, but DiPasquale was able to forge a 1:03 advantage in riding time despite trailing 4-3 after two periods. DiPasquale started down to start the third period and Letters brought the riding time below a minute before the Cavalier escaped, but DiPasquale notched a takedown with 20 seconds to go in the third and built his time back up to 1:08 before Letters escaped. DiPasquale hung on for the 7-5 win and a final team score of 16-15 in favor of the Terrapins.
The Cavaliers are next in action at the ACC Championships on Saturday, March 8, in College Park, Md.
165 Chaires (VA) dec. McGill (MD) 4-3; 3-0
174 Letts (MD) dec. Henrich (VA) 3-1; 3-3
184 Caponi (VA) dec. Haines (MD) 3-2; 6-3
197 Taylor (MD) maj. dec. Jones (VA) 10-2; 6-7
HWT Danilkowicz (VA) dec. Gilmore (MD) 5-2; 9-7
125 Byrne (MD) dec. Gitomer (VA) 5-4 2TB; 9-10
133 Albright (VA) dec. Bell (MD) 2-1 4TB; 12-10
141 Kohler (MD) dec. Nelson (VA) 5-4 ; 12-13
149 Medina (MD) dec. Harris (VA) 11-4; 12-16
157 DiPasquale (VA) dec. Letters (MD) 7-5; 15-16