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No. 14 Hokies Escape No. 16 Wahoos

Matt Snyder, courtesy UVa Media RelationsThe Virginia wrestling team, ranked 16th nationally, nearly dug itself out of an early 13-point hole before falling short in a 19-16 loss to No. 14 Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon in front of a near-capacity crowd at Memorial Gymnasium. The tightly-contested match featured five bouts decided by three points or fewer.

Jack Danilkowicz (Sr., Green Oaks, Ill.), Chris Henrich (Jr., Lansdale, Pa.), Brent Jones (Sr., Burke, Va.) and Matt Snyder (R-Fr., Lewistown, Pa.) each notched victories for Virginia (13-4, 1-1 ACC), who wrestled without their normal starters at 149 and 157 pounds.

The match started at 141 pounds, as 10th-ranked Chris Diaz of Virginia Tech earned a 4-3 win over UVa's Derek Valenti (So., Newton, N.J.). Diaz scored early takedowns in the first two periods, but had to hold on Valenti rode him for the entire third period.

The Hokies (14-3, 2-0) pushed their lead to 7-0 when Brian Stephens posted a 15-6 major decision over the Cavaliers' Dave Ebbott (R-So., Blue Bell, Pa.), who stepped into the starting lineup after Kellon Balum (Sr., Herndon, Pa.) was injured Friday night against North Carolina.

At 157 pounds, fourth-ranked Jesse Dong recorded a 9-3 decision over the Cavaliers' Shawn Harris (R-So., Cleveland, Ohio), who again wrestled up a weight class in place of Danny Gonsor (R-So., Cleveland, Ohio). Dong scored an early first-period takedown and racked up 3:55 of riding time in the win.

Virginia Tech picked up a close win by decision at 165 pounds as Matt Epperly broke a two-all tie with an escape and late takedown in the third period against the Cavaliers' Pat Riley (R-Jr., Bernardsville, N.J.) in a 5-2 victory. The win gave Virginia Tech a 13-0 lead.

UVa got its first six points when Henrich, ranked fourth nationally at 174 pounds, won by forfeit to push his record to 23-2 this season.

The Hokies earned another tight win at 184 pounds when 20th-ranked Tommy Spellman picked up a 3-1 win over the Cavaliers' Mike Salopek (R-Fr., North Huntingdon, Pa.). After a scoreless first period, Spellman broke the deadlock with a takedown midway through the second period. Salopek picked up a point after Spellman's second warning in the second period, but Spellman finished with exactly one minute of riding time to gain that point and win 3-1.

At 197 pounds, Jones dominated Chris Penny in a 13-5 major decision. Jones picked up the final point for the major after racking up 1:12 in riding time. Jones had a strong weekend, going 2-0 after winning 4-3 against No. 12 Dennis Drury of UNC on Friday night.

The Cavaliers further cut into the lead when Danilkowicz earned a 5-1 win over Tim Miller at heavyweight, bringing the Cavaliers within 16-13. The two were scoreless through one stanza before Danilkowicz earned the only point of the second period on an early escape. He added a pair of takedowns in the third while controlling the period.

At 125, 15th-ranked Jarrod Garnett and UVa's Ross Gitomer (Sr., Flemington, N.J.) staged a fierce battle which was decided when Gitomer was called for his second stall warning, resulting in a point for Garnett and breaking a 1-1 deadlock midway through the third period. Garnett was able to stave off Gitomer's last-ditch shots to earn the 2-1 win and give the Hokies a 19-13 lead.

The 133-pound match also was close throughout. Virginia Tech's Brock LiVorio recorded a first-period takedown on Snyder, who again Saturday was wrestling up a weight class from his normal 125 pounds. Snyder chose the top position in the second and rode LiVorio for the entire period to erase the Hokies' riding time advantage. Snyder scored a takedown 20 seconds into the third to knot the score, then rode LiVorio for the remainder of the match to earn the riding point and pick up the 3-2 victory. Snyder won twice this weekend at 133 pounds.

Virginia returns to the mat next week, traveling to Rutgers for a 6:30 p.m. match Friday before heading to Princeton at noon Saturday. UVa returns to Mem Gym in two weeks (Feb. 6), taking on No. 25 Old Dominion and George Mason beginning at 1 p.m.