CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. The Virginia wrestling team recorded a sixth-place finish Sunday at the prestigious Southern Scuffle, hosted by UNC Greensboro at Greensboro Coliseum’s Special Events Center. The Cavaliers finished with 91.5 points in the 28-team field.
Fourth-ranked Minnesota captured the championship with 182 points, easily out-distancing No. 14 Edinboro (130.5). The rest of the top five was No. 15 Hofstra (121), No. 17 Cornell (94) and No. 22 Maryland (93.5). In the same tournament last year, Virginia earned 17th place and recorded 49 points.
Virginia had three wrestlers reach the championship matches of their respective weight classes second only to Minnesota, who had five wrestlers in the championship round. Michael Chaires (Fr., Scotia, N.Y.) at 165 pounds, Rocco Caponi (Jr., Uniontown, Ohio) at 184 and Brent Jones (So., Burke, Va.) at 197 all reached the finals, but they dropped their championship matches, with Chaires and Caponi each falling in one-point decisions.
“There was a lot of good stuff for us this weekend,” Virginia head coach Steve Garland said. “Michael Chaires had a heck a tournament, and Brent Jones beat some really good wrestlers. Rocco Caponi wrestled well and dropped a tight match in the final, but he still is 21-1 this year. We were right in the thick of the team race with a lot of nationally-ranked competition. It gives us some good momentum heading into the Virginia Intercollegiates this weekend.”
Chaires, the No. 7 seed at 165, defeated second seed and No. 15-ranked Scott Glasser of Minnesota in the quarterfinals, toppled sixth seed Kurt Swartz of Boise State in the semifinals and then lost a tough, 3-2 decision to No. 14 Mack Lewnes of Cornell in the championship.
Caponi, the top seed at 184, won four-consecutive matches to reach the championship before dropping a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Boise State’s Kirk Smith. The loss was Caponi’s first of the season as he fell to 21-1.
Jones, seeded fifth at 197, pinned No. 4 seed and 15th-ranked Pat Bradshaw of Edinboro in the quarterfinals Sunday, then knocked off top seed and eighth-ranked Joe Rovelli of Hofstra in the semifinals in a 6-4 decision. In the finals, he lost by fall to No. 2 seed and 11th-ranked Hudson Taylor of Maryland.
Ross Gitomer (So., Flemington, N.J.), after dropping a 4-2 decision in his third-round match to No. 2 seed and ninth-ranked Dave Tomasette of Hofstra on Saturday, battled through the consolation bracket and earned a fourth-place finish. He fell to fifth-seed James Nicholson of Old Dominion, 3-1, in the third-place match. Gitomer had a team-high seven wins over the weekend.
Virginia returns home Saturday to compete in the Virginia Intercollegiate Championships. The tournament will be the first-ever college wrestling competition at John Paul Jones Arena.Final Team Results (Top 10)
1. Minnesota, 182
2. Edinboro, 130.5
3. Hofstra, 121
4. Cornell, 94
5. Maryland, 93.5
6. Virginia, 91.5
7. Bloomsburg, 86
8. Boise State, 84.5
9. Navy, 79.5
10. Old Dominion, 74.5