The Virginia wrestling team couldn't manage a repeat of last season's Virginia Duals championship. The Hoos won the tough tournament last year, but fell to #6 Virginia Tech in the finals this time in a nail-biter.
The tournament, unconventionally set up in a "team" style of dual meets, included plenty of positives for the 16th-ranked Cavaliers. UVA pulled off a big win over #10 Edinboro in the semifinals. Tied at 17, the match came down to the final bout at 285 pounds, with Patrick Gillen winning 9-2 to earn the finals berth. The Hoos also beat #17 Rider and The Citadel to advance to the second day.
The championship match against the Hokies also hinged on the final matchup. (UVA held a 15-13 lead heading to the 285 pound bout, which is effectively a tie because a decision is worth 3 team points.) This time, Gillen had a tall task against the 7th-ranked wrestler in the nation at the weight class; the Hokies' Ty Walz clung to a 3-2 lead to take the tournament.
"We are a different team than we were a month ago. Our guys have made some huge strides. We came within a couple bonus points from upsetting a great Virginia Tech team," Coach Steve Garland told VirginiaSports.com. "We have had one of the toughest months I can recall, this past December, and oddly enough it actually made us a closer group. We fought for each other and are moving forward as a family."
This weekend, the Hoos notched their two biggest wins of the season, and they'll have another shot at the Hokies on Februrary 1st in Blacksburg; Garland's confidence is well-placed. Conference play begins Friday night at Mem Gym against Duke. The Hoos are now 8-3 overall in dual meets, with their 3 losses coming to #7 Ohio State, #6 VT, and at #25 Bucknell.