COLLEGE PARK, Md. The Virginia wrestling team took runner-up honors Saturday at the 2008 ACC Championships, held at Comcast Center in College Park, Md. Virginia narrowly missed its first championship in 31 years, finishing two points behind 22nd-ranked Maryland for the title. The Terrapins, who won five individual championships, earned their first title since 1973 with 86.5 points, while the Cavaliers scored 84.5 points.
The second-place finish was Virginia’s best ACC finish since 2004. It marked the third-closest championship in the tournament’s 53-year history. The championship was decided by one point in 1980 and 1993.
The tournament lead see-sawed through much of the championship round matches, with the lead changing hands three times between the Terps and Cavaliers before Maryland’s Hudson Taylor recorded a win at 197 pounds to clinch the two-point win. Virginia held a slim 4.5-point lead over North Carolina and a seven-point advantage over Maryland entering the final round.
"Obviously it hurts to be that close and not win the whole thing, but I am so proud of where the program has come and where we are headed," second-year head coach Steve Garland said. "Placing all 10 in the top four is an incredible thing to do and most importantly it is a team collaboration. It takes a team effort and everyone chipping in to do what we did, and I am extremely proud of them."
All 10 Virginia wrestlers placed among the top four of their respective weight classes, highlighted by championships by Ross Gitomer (So., Flemington, N.J.) at 133 pounds and Rocco Caponi (Jr., Uniontown, Ohio) at 184 pounds. Caponi won his second-consecutive 184-pound title and improved to 37-2 this season.
Five Cavaliers rallied through the consolation bracket to nab third-place finishes Eric Albright (Jr., York, Pa.) at 133, Shawn Harris (Fr., Cleveland, Ohio) at 149, Drew DiPasquale (Jr., Bloomsburg, Pa.) at 157, Michael Chaires (Fr., Scotia, N.Y.) at 165 and Jack Danilkowicz (So., Green Oaks, Ill.) at heavyweight. Brent Jones (So., Burke, Va.) nabbed fourth place at 197 pounds.
Gitomer, the No. 3 seed at 125 pounds, won three times on the day. He took down No. 2-seed Brandon Byrne of Maryland in the semifinals before downing No. 1 seed Drew Forshey of North Carolina in the championship match. Gitomer earned his first berth in the NCAA championships.
Caponi dominated NC State’s Ryan Goodman, 7-2, in the championship. He will compete in his third NCAA championships after also advancing in 2005 and 2007.
Nick Nelson (Fr., Pittsburgh, Pa.), seeded No. 4, took second at 141 after dropping a 3-0 decision to Maryland’s Jon Kohler in the championship. Nelson posted the tournament’s biggest upset as he shocked No. 1-seed and ninth-ranked Joe Caramanica of NC State in the semifinals.
Chris Henrich (Fr., Lansdale, Pa.) took runner-up honors at 174 after falling 4-3 in the championship to top-seeded and ninth-ranked Mike Letts of Maryland. Henrich just missed a last-second reversal as time expired in the third period that would have given him two points and the championship.
Caponi and Gitomer now will represent the Cavaliers as they move on to the NCAA Championships, which will be contested March 20-23 in St. Louis. The 10 individual champions will go on to represent their schools in the NCAA Championship while the four wild cards will be determined on Sunday morning by the coaches.
2008 ACC Championships
1. Maryland, 86.5
2. Virginia, 84.5
3. North Carolina, 77
4. Virginia Tech, 40
5. NC State, 37.5
6. Duke, 11.5
2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Finals
125 Ross Gitomer (UVA) dec, Drew Forshey (UNC), 8-3
133 Steven Bell (MD) dec. Darrius Little (NCST), 6-5
141 Jon Kohler (MD) dec. Nick Nelson (UVA), 3-0
149 Darrion Caldwell (NCST) major dec. Eric Medina (MD), 12-2
157 Brian Letters (MD) dec. Thomas Scotton (UNC), 3-2
165 Matt Epperly (VT) dec. Keegan Mueller (UNC), 7-2; SV1
174 Mike Letts (MD) dec. Chris Henrich (UVA), 4-3
184 Rocco Caponi (UVA) dec. Ryan Goodman (NCST), 7-2
197 Hudson Taylor (MD) dec. Dennis Drury (UNC), 10-5
HWT Justin Dobies (UNC) dec. David Marone (VT), 4-3
Virginia First Round Results
125 Pounds: Ross Gitomer (UVa) defeated Justin Staylor (VT) 10-8
133 Pounds: Eric Albright (UVa) - bye
141 Pounds: Nick Nelson (UVa) defeated Bryan Gibson (Duke) by pin 6:58
149 Pounds: Shawn Harris (UVa) - bye
157 Pounds: Drew DiPasquale (UVa) - bye
165 Pounds: Matt Eperly (Virginia Tech) defeated Michael Chaires (UVa) 11-3
174 Pounds: Chris Henrich (UVa) defeated Ben Wales (Duke) 4-2
184 Pounds: Rocco Caponi (UVa) - bye
197 Pounds: Brent Jones (UVa) defeated DJ Bruce (Virginia Tech) by pin 0:45
285 Pounds: Justin Dobies (North Carolina) defeated Jack Danilkowicz (UVa) by pin 2:10
Virginia Semifinal Results
125 Results: Ross Gitomer (UVa) defeated Brendan Byrne (Maryland) 3-2
133 Pounds: Darrius Little (NC State) defeated Eric Albright (UVa) 6-4
141 Pounds: Nick Nelson (UVa) defeated Joe Caramanica (NC State) 2-1
149 Pounds: Darrion Caldwell (NC State) defeated Shawn Harris (UVa) by pin 0:26
157 Pounds: Thomas Scoton (North Carolina) defeated Drew DiPasquale (UVa) 7-5
174 Pounds: Chris Henrich (UVa) defeated Eric Decker (Virginia Tech) 5-3
184 Pounds: Rocco Caponi (UVa) defeated John Barone (Duke) 6-4
197 Pounds: Dennis Drury (North Carolina) defeated Brent Jones (UVa) 10-7
Virginia Consolation Semifinal Results
133 Pounds: Eric Albright (UVa) defeated Chris Thumen (Duke) TF 18-3
149 Pounds: Shawn Harris (UVa) defeated Michael Degli Obizzi (Duke) by pin (7:21)
157 Pounds: Drew DiPasquale (UVa) defeated Colton Palmer (NC State) by pin
165 Pounds: Michael Chaires (UVa) defeated Mike McGill (Maryland) 5-2
197 Pounds: Brent Jones (UVa) defeated Danny Tulley (Duke) by pin (0:53)
285 Pounds: Jack Danilkowicz (UVa) wins by injury default
Virginia Consolation Finals Results (3rd Place)
133 Pounds: Eric Albright (UVa) defeated Danny Lopes (North Carolina) 10-0
149 Pounds: Shawn Harris (UVa) defeated Vincent Ramirez (North Carolina) 4-2
157 Pounds: Drew DiPasquale (UVa) defeated Voris Tejada (Duke) 4-1
165 Pounds: Michael Chaires (UVa) defeated Addison Nuding (Duke) 11-3
197 Pounds: DJ Bruce (Virginia Tech) defeated Brent Jones (UVa) 15-14
285 Pounds: Jack Danilkowicz (UVa) defeated Pat Gilmore (Maryland) 5-3