Virginia is sending a school-record eight wrestlers to the NCAA Championship, which starts today and continues through Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska (our baseball team is watching enviously as we speak). The team picked up their first ACC Championship in over three decades, and look to continue their success in Omaha, turning to Chris Henrich, Ross Gitomer, and Brent Jones to lead the team.
The Cavaliers feature a good mix of old and new in the championships this year. Three UVa wrestlers will be returning to NCAAs, while five will be making their first appearance in the championships.
Chris Henrich (Jr., Lansdale, Pa.) earned the No. 3 national seed at 174 pounds - the highest UVa seed at the national championships since Scott Moore was tabbed as the No. 1 seed at 141 pounds in 2004. A three-time NCAA qualifier, Henrich finished seventh at 174 pounds last year to earn All-America honors and is aiming to become the first two-time All-American in Virginia history. Henrich (30-2) will wrestle Dave Rella of Ohio State in the first round on Thursday, March 18.
Ross Gitomer (R-Sr., Flemington, N.J.), in his second NCAA Championships, opens against No. 4 seed Anthony Robles of Arizona State in the 125-pound weight class. Gitomer (22-13) wrestled at the 2008 NCAA Championships but missed the second half of the 2009 season because of a knee injury.
At 141 pounds, Derek Valenti (So., Newton, N.J.) will make his NCAA debut against Ivan Lopouchanski of UNC Greensboro. Valenti went 24-8 this season. At 149 pounds, Shawn Harris (R-So., Cleveland, Ohio) starts his first NCAA Championships against No. 11 seed Desmond Green of Buffalo. Harris was 19-12 in his first season back from a neck injury.
At 157, Danny Gonsor (R-So., Cleveland, Ohio) also will be making his first NCAA appearance. Gonsor (18-9) begins the championships Thursday against Northern Iowa's Tyson Reiner.
At 184 Mike Salopek (R-Fr., North Huntingdon, Pa.) becomes the first Cavalier freshman since Rocco Caponi in 2005 to compete at the NCAA Championships. The first UVa freshman to win an ACC championship since Gage Short in 1995, Salopek (28-8) will wrestle the No. 9 seed, Philip Keddy of Iowa, in the opening round.
Brent Jones (R-Sr., Burke, Va.) will make his second-consecutive NCAA Championships appearance. He is slated to wrestle No. 5 seed Trevor Brandvold of Wisconsin in the first round. Jones (24-11) ranks fourth in career wins at Virginia (105) and with two matches at NCAAs, he will move into second place in career matches at Virginia with 150.
Heavyweight Jack Danilkowicz (R-Jr., Green Oaks, Ill.) also is making his first NCAA appearance. Danilkowicz (18-12) will wrestle Tucker Lane of Nebraska in the first round and is the first UVa heavyweight to qualify for NCAAs since Josh Etu in 2003.
All first-round matches will be held beginning at noon Thursday. The second round and first round of wrestlebacks start at 7:30 p.m.Quarterfinal action begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday, while the semifinalsstart at 7 p.m. Friday. The championship medal round commences at 11a.m. Saturday, with the championship matches beginning at 7:30 p.m.Friday.
NCAA.com will provide a free webstream of the first day of the championships. The ESPN family of networks will have coverage of the championships beginning at 10:30 a.m. Friday with the quarterfinals,which will air on ESPNU and ESPN360.com. Semifinal action at 7 p.m.Friday also will be on ESPNU and ESPN360, as will the championship medal round at 11 a.m. Saturday. The finals will be broadcast on ESPNand ESPN360 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.