- The University of Virginia will play host to the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestling Championship Saturday at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers are the defending ACC champion, but face another tough field this year. The competition will get underway at 11 a.m. and continue throughout the day; the finals are set to begin at 7 p.m.
The doors to John Paul Jones Arena will open at 10 a.m., with first-round action set to begin at 11 a.m. The semifinals are set for 1 p.m., followed by the consolation semifinals at 3:30 p.m.. The consolation finals are set for 5 p.m., followed by the championship matches at 7 p.m.
All seating for the ACC Championship is general admission. Adult tickets are $10, while tickets for youth, senior citizens and students of the participating schools (with valid ID) are $5. Tickets will be good for the entire day of competition. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall, by calling the Ticket Office at (800) 542-8821 or logging on to VirginiaSports.com. The Virginia Athletics Ticket Office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Updated brackets will be available throughout the day Saturday here. In addition, the ACC.com will air a live webcast of the Championships, beginning with the consolation finals at 5 p.m., followed by the finals at 7 p.m. This free broadcast may be accessed here.
The event will feature 14 wrestlers currently ranked among the nation's Top 20 in their respective weight classes and four wrestlers ranked among the top five, including top-ranked and 2009 NCAA champion Darrion Caldwell of NC State at 149 pounds. Virginia All-America senior Chris Henrich (174) and Maryland sophomore Josh Asper (165) are ranked fourth in their respective weight classes, while Virginia Tech's Jesse Dong in ranked fifth at 157.
Twenty automatic NCAA Championship bids are on the line Saturday. The NCAA Championships will be contested March 17-19 at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. The ACC's automatic qualifier breakdown by class: 125 - 2; 133 - 1; 141 - 3; 149 - 2; 157 - 3; 165 - 2; 174 - 2; 184 - 3; 197 - 1; 285 - 1.
Virginia won a school-record 19 dual matches in the 2010-11 regular season. Three Virginia wrestlers were ranked in the latest InterMat individual rankings - No. 4 Chris Henrich (Sr., Lansdale, Pa.) at 174 pounds, No. 19 Jon Fausey (R-Fr., Dalmatia, Pa.) at 184 and No. 17 Mike Salopek (R-So., North Huntingdon, Pa.) at 197. In addition, Matt Snyder (R-So., Lewistown, Pa.) is ranked No. 17 at 125 pounds by Amateur Wrestling News.
Henrich and Salopek each are returning ACC champions. Virginia's all-time wins leader with 131 victories, Henrich has won the last two ACC titles at 174 pounds and is aiming to become just the seventh Cavalier to win three ACC crowns. Henrich will be challenged by Maryland's Mike Letts, who won the 2007 and 2008 174-pound titles but has battled injuries the last two years. The two had an epic match in February, with Henrich scoring a late takedown to pull out a 3-2 win.
Salopek was victorious at 184 pounds last year; he will compete at 197 Saturday. Virginia has won the last four ACC titles at 184 pounds.
The Cavaliers have been plagued by injuries all year, with three starters missing at least half the season because of injuries, but UVa is getting healthy at just the right time. Nick Nelson (R-Jr., Pittsburgh, Pa.) returned to the UVa lineup for the Feb. 20 match at Old Dominion after missing two months with an injury. Virginia plans to have its entire starting lineup on Saturday for the first time this season.
Virginia won its final four dual matches this year in finishing 19-7 in the regular season. The Cavaliers were 3-2 in ACC duals, with narrow losses at Maryland (19-16) and Virginia Tech (20-12).
Virginia has captured four ACC Championships in program history - 1974, 1975, 1977 and 2010. UVa last played host to the championship in 2004 at University Hall.