- The 22nd-ranked Virginia wrestling team will battle for the ACC title Saturday when it travels to the 56th annual ACC Championships, hosted by North Carolina State at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.
The first round will begin at 11 a.m., with semifinals slated to follow at 1 p.m. Consolation semifinals will start at 3:30, followed by the consolation finals at 5 p.m. The finals will commence at 7 p.m. Tickets are priced at $10 for adults and $5 for youth.
ACC Select will air a free, live online webcast, beginning with the consolation finals at 5 p.m., followed by the finals at 7. The broadcast features Evan Lepler on play-by-play and Daryl Weber as the color analyst. Coverage may be accessed via ACCSelect.com. Brackets also will be updated throughout the day on the ACC's website.
In addition to ACC championships, automatic qualifiers to the 2010 NCAA Championships also are on the line. The ACC received 24 automatic bids this year - four at 157 pounds, three at 125, 141, 197 and 285, two at 149, 165 and 184 and one at 133 and 174. Virginia matched a school record last season with seven NCAA qualifiers.
The championship feature a strong field with nationally ranked Maryland (No. 10), Virginia Tech (No. 14) and Virginia (No. 22) among the six teams in the competition. Five wrestlers earned All-America honors last year, while five reigning league champions are back for 2010.
Virginia has had a pair of near-misses in the last two ACC Championships, falling by just two points to Maryland in each instance. Last year the Cavaliers made a dramatic comeback during the championship round, with Chris Henrich, Rocco Caponi and Brent Jones winning consecutive titles at 174, 184 and 197 pounds, respectively, before UVa fell just two points short. Jones, after a big upset of top-seeded Hudson Taylor of Maryland in the championship match, was named the 2009 Most Outstanding Wrestler of the championships.
In addition to bringing Henrich and Jones back to defend their 2009 crowns, the Cavaliers also have Ross Gitomer, the 2008 ACC Champion at 125 pounds, back in the mix. Gitomer missed the championships last year because of a knee injury.
UVa rolled to a 16-6 dual-meet record this season while posting a 3-2 mark in ACC competition. It marked the second-most dual wins in school history, topped only by the 2007-08 team, which won 18 dual matches.
Henrich enters the championships as UVa's hottest wrestler. He has won 13-consecutive bouts dating to a Dec. 30 loss to No. 1-ranked Mack Lewnes of Cornell in the championship match of the Southern Scuffle. Henrich is 28-2 this season.
The Cavaliers currently have four wrestlers ranked in the national polls: Henrich - third (InterMat, W.I.N.) at 174; Brent Jones - 14th (W.I.N.), 17th (InterMat), 18th (AWN) at 197; Mike Salopek - 19th (AWN), 20th (InterMat) at 184; and Derek Valenti - 19th (W.I.N.) at 141. In all seven of the 10 Cavaliers competing this weekend have been ranked in the top 20 nationally at some point this season.
UVa's lineup for the ACC Championships is as follows:
125 - Ross Gitomer (20-12)
133 - Matt Snyder (26-15)
141 - Derek Valenti (22-7)
149 - Shawn Harris (17-11)
157 - Danny Gonsor (17-7)
165 - Beau Fisher (7-10)
174 - No. 3 Chris Henrich (28-2)
184 - No. 20 Mike Salopek (26-8)
197 - No. 17 Brent Jones (21-10)
285 - Jack Danilkowicz (16-11)
rankings according to InterMat
Following the ACC Championships Virginia's NCAA qualifiers will head to Omaha, Neb., March 18-20 for the NCAA Championships at Qwest Center Omaha.