The Virginia wrestling team moves into postseason action Saturday when it competes in the 55th annual ACC Championships at Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers fell just two points shy of Maryland for the championship last year.
First-round matches will start at 11 a.m. Saturday, with semifinals set to begin at 1 p.m. and the championship finals at 7 p.m. Live brackets will be available online at TheACC.com. The semifinals and finals will be broadcast online by ACC Select.
Virginia finished its dual-meet schedule with an 11-11 record, including a 2-3 mark in ACC duals. The Cavaliers have three wrestlers ranked in the InterMat poll this week Chris Henrich (No. 7 at 174), Nick Nelson (No. 16 at 141) and Brent Jones (No. 19 at 197).Virginia’s ACC Championships Lineup
133: Matt Bonson (16-5)
141: No. 16 Nick Nelson (22-8)
149: Kellon Balum (9-10)
157: Jedd Moore (26-12)
165: Mike Sewell (11-7)
174: No. 7 Chris Henrich (34-1)
184: Rocco Caponi (13-5)
197: No. 19 Brent Jones (26-6)
285: Calvin Cardillo (8-14)
Virginia’s Rocco Caponi (Sr., Uniontown, Ohio) is aiming for his third-consecutive ACC title at 184 pounds. Only five Virginia wrestlers have earned a trio of ACC crowns, with the last coming from Jim Harshaw, who nabbed three straight from 1997-99. Caponi, with a 107-31 career record, also will be shooting for his fourth bid to the NCAA Championships.
Henrich, also a NCAA qualifier last year, is gunning for his first ACC title after taking runner-up laurels last year. He went 34-1 during the regular season, with his lone loss coming against No. 5 Steve Anceravage of Cornell at the Southern Scuffle. Henrich went 5-0 against ACC foes this year.
Several 2008 champions return for a shot at another title in 2009. Returning individual champions include Maryland’s Steve Bell at 133, NC State’s Darrion Caldwell at 149, Virginia Tech’s Matt Epperly at 165, Caponi at 184, Maryland’s Hudson Taylor at 197 and North Carolina’s Justin Dobies at heavyweight. Maryland’s Brian Letters, the defending champion at 157, also returns but is competing at 165 this season.
The ACC’s 27 automatic bids to the NCAA Championships also are at stake. Under the new NCAA qualifying system, the ACC nearly doubled its number of automatic bids after receiving just 14 under the old system.
The ACC’s automatic qualifiers by weight class:
The wrestling season wraps up March 20-22 in St. Louis at the NCAA Championships.