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  • Photo: Photo/Sam Janicki

    Photo: Photo/Sam Janicki

    ACC Conference Recap (11/30/21)

    2020 ACC champion Clay Lautt (Photo/Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    Duke: The Blue Devils were off this week. They return to action next week with four duals in two days.

    North Carolina: The Tar Heels headed north to the Garden State Grapple for duals against #19 Wisconsin and #15 Rutgers--their 3rd and 4th duals against ranked opponents already this season. In the early match, UNC split ranked-versus-ranked matchups against the Badgers. #22 Clay Lautt controlled his contest over #8 Andrew McNally to earn the 6-1 decision, while #22 Gavin Kane took it to #14 Chris Weiler with an 8-2 decision. #2 Austin O'Connor picked up another bonus point victory, earning a major decision. #10 Jaime Hernandez and #10 Kizhan Clarke both picked up decision wins in their bouts. In the other two ranked matches, #16 Zach Sherman fell to #19 Austin Gomez at 149 and #27 Max Shaw lost by decision to #16 Braxton Amos. The dual went down to heavyweight to determine the winner, where #5 Trent Hilger picked up the pin to seal it for the Badgers. The Tar Heels were very competitive with the Badgers in the dual and, unfortunately, had a few wrestlers suffer injuries that held them out of the following dual.

    There was a lot of backlash in the social media world about ranked wrestlers not wrestling in the Rutgers dual--which from the outside looking in is very understandable, but in this case, I think it was misguided. UNC has gone out of their way to schedule top competition to start the year and I don't believe that this is an example of ducking; it's the unfortunate reality of guys getting banged up in a tough dual.

    The match with Rutgers did not treat the Tar Heels well. UNC only picked up three wins on the night. #2 Austin O'Connor moved to 6-1 on the year with a 12-6 decision. #22 Clay Lautt continued his run at 174, picking up a decision victory and at 165, Joey Mazzara looked strong throughout his match, earning a 7-3 decision between O'Connor and Lautt. The Tar Heels are off the next two weeks to rest and recover before a dual with Appalachian State.

    NC State: The Wolfpack had the weekend off and will return to action with a home dual against Gardner-Webb on Thursday.

    Pittsburgh: The Panthers had an early week dual to open their home slate against Maryland on Monday night. They followed up a down performance at Lehigh with a strong showing against the Terps. In the only ranked versus ranked matchup of the night, #4 Jake Wentzel got back in the win column with a decision over #32 John Martin Best. At 133, #5 Micky Phillipi also got back on track after getting upset in Bethlehem on Sunday. #24 Gage Curry picked up the only set of bonus points on the night with a 17-2 tech fall at 125; Curry and Colton Camacho have been battling for the starting spot and alternated matches on the weekend. The Panthers struggled to finish matches against Lehigh and lost some decisions late. Against Maryland, they showed more grit and won three bouts in sudden victory. #17 Cole Matthews (141), #31 Elijah Cleary (157) and Jake Slinger (285) all won their bouts 3-1 in sudden victory. The Panthers are off this week.

    Virginia: The Hoos sent a big squad up to Lock Haven for the Mat Town Open on Sunday made up of both starters and redshirts. The Cavaliers brought home four championships on the day, and had another two finalists. At 157, Jon Errico continued his undefeated season, beating teammate Denton Spencer in the finals. #20 Justin McCoy moved to 7-0 on the year, picking up a decision, major, tech fall and pin on his way to the title at 165. Justin Phillips, who has been battling to earn the starting spot at 174, went 4-0 on the day, winning the title over teammate Hudson Stewart in the finals. The final champ was at 184, where Michael Battista went 3-0 to end up atop the podium. Jarod Verkleeren gets to 5-2 on the season by picking up three wins before falling to Max Brignola of Lehigh in the finals. Ethan Weatherspoon also made the finals at 197, where he lost to Kolby Franklin. The Hoos will have a long break before returning to action at the Midlands at the end of December.

    Virginia Tech: The Hokies were off this week--they have a big weekend with duals against Mizzou and UNI in Columbia.

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