The wrestling team finished up its regular season by taking it to in-state rivals Old Dominion and George Mason at Memorial Gym in Charlottesville. The Hoos, currently ranked 21st in the nation, beat the #23 Monarchs 31-3, then capped the day with a 29-7 victory against the Patriots of GMU.
The team's ability to blow strong competition out of the water in dual meets continues to impress. UVA completes its season with an 11-1 record, the best finish in program history. A home loss against #22 Virginia Tech that came down to sudden-death in the final bout is all that stands in the way of an undefeated year, but the Hoos rebounded from that tough defeat by reeling off 9 straight wins.
Today, Virginia won 17 of the 20 weight classes wrestled. Jedd Moore picked up bonus points with his 19-7 victory over his opponent from ODU, as did Nick Sulzer and Vinny Waldhauser, who won 21-9 and 14-1, respectively, against Mason. Augustus Sako earned the day's only pin, sticking his opponent with 26 seconds remaining in the third period.
Virginia's four departing student-athletes were honored during Senior Day ceremonies before the match. Shawn Harris, Sam MacGregor, Ryan Malo, and Nick Nelson were all sent off in front of an appreciate home crowd who braved the mid-February snow.
Seven of the team's wrestlers competed twice, with six of those picking up two wins on the day. The Cavaliers sat the other three starters against a lesser George Mason team and got MacGregor a match at 157 pounds. The match of the day was wrestled by Nick Nelson. ranked 7th nationally, who defeated #26 Justin LaValle in a 1-0 nail-biter.
The Monarchs were held to their lowest output of the season, though they were without three of their top wrestlers. Old Dominion is coming off a tough two-week stretch in which it fell to #19 Binghamton on the road, but crushed NC State 34-3 and edged #22 Central Michigan 18-17. The squad also has quality wins this season in dual meets against previously-ranked Rutgers and Iowa State.
The Cavaliers have two weeks to regroup and prepare for the ACC Championships on March 3rd in Chapel Hill. Last year, UVA hosted the tournament but finished in a disappointing third place, as Maryland stormed to a surprise win. That time, Virginia was poised for a strong finish but went 0-5 in the finals. While this year's team is without its leader, Chris Henrich, its depth should be an asset in tournament competition. The tournament is wide-open, with UVA, Maryland, and Virginia Tech all having the potential to take home the title. Virginia has continued to experience tangible improvement throughout the year; if the team peaks at the right time, we could be celebrating the program's second ACC Championship in three years. The tournament will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com.