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Virginia Wrestling picks up statement win over Pittsburgh

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The 14th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers wrestling team won a big match over #10 Pitt, notching a 17-16 decision at Memorial Gym in Charlottesville.

UVA and Pittsburgh won 5 matches apiece at the dual meet, but Virginia's "bonus points" (earned for pins, tech falls, and major decisons) made the difference.  George DiCamillo and Nick Sulzer earned major decisions (wins by 8+ points) worth 4 points apiece for the Hoos by winning 22-10 and 14-6, respectively. Pitt's Max Thomusseit won by tech fall (15+ points), but earned just 4 points, rather than 5, because he failed to receive near falls points during the match.

The match included some very close (and controversial) bouts, including Andrew Atkinson's sudden-victory win at 157 pounds - it appeared Atkinson had lost on a last-second takedown, but a video review reversed the decison and sent the match to overtime.

"It certainly was not the way we drew it up - that was about as crazy as a dual meet gets,"  head coach Steve Garland told VirginiaSports.com. "We knew it was going to be a fight because they are such a tough, hard-nosed group of guys. For the last 364 days, we have been training for that type of match. They embarrassed us last year and it stuck with us. I don't think we wrestled well, but I'm happy that our guys were able to fight through and grit out grimy, crazy, awesome wins like that. At the end of the day, in the blood round at nationals, those wins are what they look like. I'm proud of the fight. The heart and togetherness right now is where we need to be."

Coach Garland seems pretty pleased with his team, which continues to improve.  Virginia started the year by getting crushed at home against #4 Ohio State and falling to a good #23 Bucknell team as well, but has gone 5-1 since, and 3-1 against ranked opponents.

The Cavaliers now have 7 wrestling ranked in InterMat's top 20 in their respective weight classes:

With the win, Virginia (10-3, 2-0 ACC) put themselves in good position in the ACC race, which is primarily being waged among Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Pittsburgh.  The Hoos lost to the Hokies in a close match during the Virginia Duals, but will rematch on Sunday in Blacksburg - only the latter will count in conference standings.  VT will take on Pitt at home later that week.