- The No. 17 Virginia wrestling team hits the road for the first time this season on Sunday, traveling to Chapel Hill, N.C., to compete in the ACC Challenge at Eddie Smith Field House. UVa opens the competition at noon with a dual against Bucknell. The Cavaliers then will face Gardner-Webb at 2 p.m. and No. 16 American at 4 p.m. Virginia Tech and North Carolina also will be competing in the event.
UVa (2-0) got off to a strong start in the dual-meet portion of its schedule last Saturday, defeating Anderson (37-9) and Campbell (36-6) while winning 16 of the 20 individual bouts, with 11 of the matches resulting in bonus points.
As a team, Virginia is ranked as high as No. 17 nationally in the W.I.N. tournament power index - the team's highest ranking in program history. UVa also is ranked 20th in the preseason InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News rankings. UVa is No. 21 in the latest NWCA coaches poll as well as the D1Wrestling.net rankings.
Five Cavaliers are ranked in the various polls. Chris Henrich (Jr., Lansdale, Pa.) highlights the list of Cavaliers in the individual rankings - he is ranked as high as No. 2 (WIN, D1Wrestling.net) in the 174-pound weight class. Henrich earned All-America honors last season and went 40-3.
Brent Jones (Sr., Burke, Va.) is ranked as high as No. 9 at 197 pounds, and Nick Nelson (Jr., Pittsburgh, Pa.) stands as high as seventh at 141. Michael Chaires (R-So., Scotia, N.Y.) is 16th in the InterMat rankings at 165 pounds. Ross Gitomer (Sr., Flemington, N.J.), who is slated to make his season debut this weekend after coming back from a season-ending knee injury last year, is 15th in the D1CollegeWrestling.net rankings at 125 pounds.
There will be plenty of intriguing matchups for the Cavaliers Sunday. At 174 pounds, Henrich will face his first ranked opponent of the year when he takes on No. 13 Shane Riccio of Bucknell. Henrich defeated Riccio twice last season.
At 184 pounds, UVa's Mike Salopek (R-Fr., North Huntingdon, Pa.) has a tough day ahead as he is slated to face 19th-ranked David Thompson of Bucknell in the opener and fourth-ranked Mike Cannon in the nightcap. Cannon was an All-American at 174 pounds last season and has moved up a weight class for the 2009-10 campaign.
At 165 pounds, Chaires is scheduled to face reigning All-American Andy Rendos of Bucknell. Rendos is ranked sixth this week by InterMat. The two have not met since early in the 2007-08 season, when Rendos scored an 8-0 major decision.
Bucknell is ranked No. 25 this week by D1CollegeWrestling.net and will be competing in its first dual matches of 2009-10 on Sunday. The Bison have four wrestlers who are ranked this week - No. 13 David Marble at 133, No. 6 Andy Rendos at 165, No. 13 Shane Riccio at 174 and No. 19 David Thompson at 184. Virginia owns a 5-2 series advantage; the teams met last year in the Northeast Duals with UVa taking a 30-11 victory.
American will be competing in its dual-meet opener this weekend. The Eagles have two highly-ranked wrestlers with No. 4 Kyle Borschoff at 149 and No. 4 Mike Cannon at 184. UVa and American have not squared off since 2005, a 24-19 Cavaliers' win. Virginia holds an 11-1 edge in the series.
Gardner-Webb will start its dual schedule this weekend, traveling to Chattanooga Saturday before heading to the ACC Challenge. The Bulldogs feature a familiar face on their sidelines, as former UVa wrestler and three-time ACC champion Rocco Caponi is a graduate assistant coach. The programs have met just one time previously, with Virginia scoring a 37-6 win in 2006.
UVa is off from team competition next week, although several Cavaliers will compete unattached in the Wolfpack Open on Nov. 21 in Raleigh, N.C., while Chris Henrich will wrestle in the NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 22 in Fullerton, Calif. Henrich is slated to take on No. 7 Stephen Dwyer of Nebraska. The Cavaliers return to team competition Nov. 28 at the Northeast Duals.