For the first time since 2005, the Virginia wrestling team left College Park victorious, racking up bonus points to win 21-19 on the road. The #11 Cavaliers, ranked their highest in program history, finished the conference season at 4-1 and 13-3 overall, while Maryland fell to 10-7 on the year and 1-2 in the ACC.
Despite the tight final score, the flow of the match didn't have the feel of a close one. UVA wrestlers won the first 4 bouts to build an 18-0 lead. Maryland's strengths lie in the upper weight classes; sure enough, the Terrapins stormed back, winning 5 of the final 6 matches, but it wouldn't be enough to overcome Virginia's strong start.
Though each side won 5 of the 10 bouts on the day, the Hoos won the match on the strength of its early accumulation of "bonus points." When a wrestler wins a match, he earns his team 3 points; however, if the victory is by a margin of 8-14 points, they get four points for a major decision. A 15+ point margin ends the match in a technical fall, worth five points. And a pin earns the team six points. In its 18 point start, Virginia had a win of each variety, then did a good job of limiting Maryland points at its stronger weight classes.
The match that clinched the victory for UVA was, ironically, a thrilling upset win for the Terps. Matt Snyder, ranked 7th nationally, led 3-0 with 10 seconds remaining, but his opponent took him down and earned two back points for the come-from-behind victory. However, his earning just three team points cut the Virginia lead to 21-13 and sealed the win for the Hoos.
"I'm very proud of our guys," Virginia head coach Steve Garland told VirginiaSports.com. "The victory tonight was the fruit of their hard work. We really wrestled well for the most part. Joe Spisak, Jedd Moore and Nick Sulzer all got bonus points, and that was the match. We're happy to get a win over a really tough team."
Looking ahead, the Hoos have their last two dual meets of the year next weekend when Appalachian State and Old Dominion visit Mem Gym in Charlottesville. The following week, Virginia competes in the NWCA National Duals, a dual meet tournament at Cornell. And that's all until the Hoos return to College Park in early March for the ACC Tournament. Virginia Tech, who have accounted for two of two of UVA's three losses this year, will be the overwhelming favorite to win the conference this season. But don't completely count out Virginia, as the team should match up better against their in-state rivals in tournament play than in dual meets.