Virginia 125 lber Patrick McCormick (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
North Carolina at Virginia
The Tar Heels travel north to Charlottesville to face the Hoos this week. North Carolina is coming off a decisive dual win over cross-town rival Duke, while the Cavaliers are looking for their first conference win after dropping a dual at Pittsburgh last week. Both teams will be at close to full strength as either has been in weeks, if not months. There will be some great matches up and down the lineup and the team win is very much up for grabs. This will be a fun one to watch--if you're in Charlottesville, make sure you say hello!
125: Spencer Moore vs. Patrick McCormick
This should be a great match to kick off the dual. McCormick has been up and down all year but has some solid wins--he lost a close decision to Gage Curry last week at Pitt. Spencer celebrated his 18th birthday last weekend, picking up two wins--including a convincing ACC win over Logan Agin from Duke.
133: #10 Jaime Hernandez/Joe Heilmann vs. #23 Brian Courtney
This is one matchup that is dependent on the health of the starters--Hernandez is undefeated on the year but has been out since a serious injury in December. Heilmann has been stellar in the spot during his absence--he picked up a first-period pin over Drake Doolittle of Duke last week. Courtney was out last week against Pitt and Trey Lane, who has been at 125, filled the spot. If Courtney is healthy, he is a very dangerous matchup for either Heilmann or Hernandez.
141: #7 Kizhan Clarke vs. Dylan Cedeno
Clark remains undefeated on the season after a close match with Parker Decker from Duke last week. He didn't look great in that match; he didn't really seem to get to his offense until late in the match when he was able to pull away. Cedeno has been out for much of the year but will hopefully be in the lineup this weekend--though Clarke will be a tough test in his first match back.
149: #22 Zach Sherman vs #26 Jarod Verkleeren
Sneaky good match. Sherman lost in SV to #13 Josh Finesilver last week and has had arguably the toughest individual schedule in the country to start the year. He is a returning All-American and incredibly dangerous; he looked solid last week in a very scrappy match against Finesilver. Verkleeren has had a great year since coming to Charlottesville. He is 15-5 on the year and picked up a win over Luke Kemerer at Pitt last week. He has looked impressive starting the second half of the season and has some good momentum coming into this dual.
157: #6 Austin O'Connor vs. #28 Jake Keating
O'Connor is the defending National Champion and is 9-1 on the year, with his only hiccup in a 5-2 decision loss to #5 Peyton Robb. Keating returned to the lineup in late December and is 8-3 on the year--last week, he bumped up to 165 and lost a major decision to #13 Jake Wentzel. This could be a fun match, both guys are willing to let it fly and I'm interested to see how AOC handles the length of Keating.
165: Sonny Santiago vs. #15 Justin McCoy
McCoy is 10-0 on the year but was out last week against Pitt. He will be coming back into ACC competition ready to make a statement. Santiago looked great last weekend against Gabe Dinette--I'd say it was the best I had seen him look this year--but then he was pinned in his next match against Little Rock, so it's hard to tell what we'll see from him.
174: #14 Clay Lautt vs. Justin Phillips
Lautt had a great win last weekend over #13 Matt Finesilver--he looked incredible on his feet and clinched the match with a beautiful double leg to hold Finesilver in danger. Phillips is 15-5 on the year and has been quietly holding down the weight very solidly for the Hoos.
184: #21 Gavin Kane vs. #22 Michael Battista
I'm really looking forward to this one. Battista is 12-1 on the year with his only loss to #11 Kyle Cochran. He looked great against a dangerous Gregg Harvey last week in Pitt. Kane has found his groove since moving up to 184 and is yet to lose at the weight. Both have had great seasons that have flown under the radar for a lot of people--I'm hopeful they both let it fly and it is a great show.
197: #28 Max Shaw vs. #11 Jay Aiello
Shaw has rebounded after a tough start the season and is on an eight-match winning streak--including winning his last three by tech fall. Aiello has been back in the lineup for a few weeks and was undefeated before falling to #9 Nino Bonaccorsi last week. Both have shown great work from neutral and on top and we could be in for a high-scoring bout with the big guys.
285: Brandon Whitman vs. #32 Quinn Miller
Whitman has hovered at .500 for the whole season and split his matches last weekend. He won a decision against Little Rock and dropped his conference match to Jonah Niesenbaum in sudden victory. Miller comes in a 9-5 with some good wins and his losses coming to tough competition. He is also coming back into the lineup after being out for several weeks. He lost a decision to Jake Slinger last week and definitely didn't look to be back at 100%. I'm hopeful that another week has given him time to get healed up and ready for another round of ACC duals.