ST. LOUIS Virginia wrestlers Chris Henrich (So., Lansdale, Pa.) and Nick Nelson (So., Pittsburgh, Pa.) each advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships Thursday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. The Cavaliers, with a school-record seven wrestlers competing, are in a tie for 20th place (12 points) with Purdue and Northwestern in the team standings.
The quarterfinals will air at 11 a.m. Friday on ESPNU and ESPN360.com. The semifinals will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Friday by ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com.
Henrich (38-1), seeded eighth at 174 pounds, moved into the quarterfinals with two wins. He opened with a pin of Millersville’s Shane Smith in 4:05 and returned Thursday evening and earned a 5-2 decision over No. 9-seed Newly McFadden of Oklahoma State. Henrich will face top-seeded and undefeated Steve Luke of Michigan in the quarterfinals.
Nelson (25-10) advanced to the quarters by earning an 8-0 major decision over Cal State-Bakersfield’s Elijah Nacita in the first round and then posting one the day’s biggest upsets, a 9-4 win over No. 2-seed Zach Tanelli of Wisconsin in the second round. Nelson will wrestle seventh-seeded Chris Drouin of Arizona State in the quarterfinals.
With one more win each, Henrich and Nelson would become Virginia’s first wrestling All-Americans since 2004 when Scott Moore and Tim Foley both finished among the top eight. Nine UVa wrestlers have earned All-America honors all-time, including current head coach Steve Garland, who was national runner-up at 125 pounds in 2000.
At 184 pounds, Rocco Caponi (Sr., Uniontown, Ohio), making his school-record fourth NCAA appearance, lost a 3-1 decision to No. 8-seed David Craig of Lehigh in the first round before bouncing back to trounce Illinois’ Jordan Blanton in a 13-1 major decision. The win was Caponi’s 110th career win, leaving him two shy of second in UVa history.
Caponi will get a familiar foe in his next wrestleback match, taking on Virginia Tech’s Tommy Spellman Friday morning. The two split a pair of matches this year, with Caponi winning the last in the ACC Tournament final on March 6.
At 157 pounds, Jedd Moore (Fr., Mount Vernon, Ohio) lost a narrow 3-2 decision to Northwestern’s Jason Welch in the first round but rebounded to bounce Liberty’s Shaun Smith from the tournament with a 4-1 decision in the wrestleback round. Moore now will face No. 7-seed Matt Moley of Bloomsburg on Friday.
At 197 pounds, Brent Jones (Jr., Burke, Va.), seeded 12th, lost his opener, 7-6, to Eric Chine of Kent State. Jones then was eliminated after being pinned by fifth-seeded Dallas Herbst of Wisconsin in his first wrestleback match.
At 133 pounds, Matt Bonson (Fr., Lewistown, Pa.) dropped both of his matches Thursday. In the first round, he fell 7-6 to Christian Smith of Liberty. In the wrestlebacks, he lost 17-5 to Pittsburgh’s Jimmy Conroy.
Kellon Balum (Jr., Herndon, Pa.) lost both of his matches Thursday to end his season. He dropped an 8-0 major decision to No. 6-seed Jake Patacsil of Purdue in the first round, then gave up a takedown to Boston’s Michael Roberts in the final seconds of the third period to fall 6-5 in his wrestleback bout.
VIRGINIA NCAA RESULTS
First Round: Christian Smith (Liberty) dec. Matt Bonson (UVa), 7-6
Wrestleback Rd. 2: Jimmy Conroy (Pitt) major dec. Bonson, 17-5
First Round: Nick Nelson (UVa) major dec. Elijah Nacita (Cal State-Bakersfield), 8-0
Second Round: Nelson dec. No. 2-seed Zach Tanelli (Wisconsin), 9-4
Quarterfinals: Nelson vs. No. 7-seed Chris Drouin (Arizona State)
First Round: No. 6-seed Jake Patacsil (Purdue) major dec. Kellon Balum (UVa), 8-0
Wrestleback Rd. 2: Michael Roberts (Boston U.) dec. Balum, 6-5
First Round: Jason Welch (Northwestern) dec. Jedd Moore (UVa), 3-2
Wrestleback Rd. 2: Moore dec. Shaun Smith (Liberty), 4-1
Wrestleback Rd. 3: Moore vs. No. 7-seed Matt Moley (Bloomsburg)
First Round: No. 8-seed Chris Henrich (UVa) pinned Shane Smith (Millersville), 4:05
Second Round: Henrich dec. No. 9-seed Newly McFadden (Oklahoma State), 5-2
Quarterfinals: Henrich vs. No. 1-seed Steve Luke (Michigan)
First Round: No. 8-seed David Craig (Lehigh) dec. Rocco Caponi (UVa), 3-1
Wrestleback Rd. 2: Caponi major dec. Jordan Blanton (Illinois), 13-1
First Round: Eric Chine (Kent State) dec. No. 12-seed Brent Jones (UVa), 7-6
Wrestleback Rd. 2: No. 5-seed Dallas Herbst (Wisconsin) pinned Jones, 1:30