2021 NCAA All-American Zach Sherman (Photo/Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
It's finally here!! Wrestling season is upon us and the ACC teams are all in action this week.
UNC opened up competition Monday with home duals against Life and Queens University. The Tar Heels only dropped one match on the day, beating the returning NAIA National Champion, Life, 29-6, and dropping Queens 48-0. UNC will wrap up week one with a big dual in Columbus, Ohio, taking on the Buckeyes. There will be some great head-to-head matchups in this dual and I can't wait to watch. A couple of big ones to keep an eye on--at 149, All-American Zach Sherman will face NCAA Runner-up (to teammate Austin O'Connor) Sammy Sasso. At his new weight of 157, O'Connor could meet highly touted freshman Paddy Gallagher, but the rumor is he will wrestle unattached to start the season. I'm also very interested to see how true freshman Spencer Moore competes at 125 with three-time NCAA qualifier Malik Heinselman. There are enough toss-up matches to make this a very competitive dual, and it should be a lot of fun to watch.
Duke and NC State will both be sending squads to the Citadel Open in South Carolina. The Wolfpack will use the performances in South Carolina to make roster decisions moving forward. The Citadel will host Duke, NC State, Air Force, Presbyterian and Belmont Abbey.
Pitt will send their full squad to Clarion Open along with several redshirts. The Panthers held their Blue-Gold intrasquad match over the weekend. As Coach Gavin mentioned, there will be a few hotly contested weights this year and no clear decisions have been made for starters. There were some very close matches at the Blue-Gold Dual and the staff will use those results as well as the performances at Clarion to finalize the lineup. Other teams at Clarion include: West Virginia, Hofstra, Clarion, Navy, Buffalo, Kent State, Maryland, Lock Haven, and Bloomsburg.
UVA will have a busy weekend to kick off the year. The starting lineup (sans Jay Aiello, who is competing at the U23 World Championships in Serbia, along with Nino Bonaccorsi of Pittsburgh) will head north to open the season with a dual at American University. There are no ranked versus ranked matches, but you will see some young faces getting experience for the Hoos. On Sunday, UVA will head south on 81 to Roanoke for the Southeast Open (this will always be the Hokie Open in my mind).
Virginia Tech will also be at the Southeast Open and will have their full starting lineup ready to roll in addition to redshirts and non-starters. The Southeast Open (ahem, Hokie Open) usually provides some solid competition to start the season. The Hokies will use the results this weekend to factor into starting decisions at a couple of weights that are still in the air. This year the following teams are participating: VT, UVA, VMI, Appalachian State, Columbia, Davidson, George Mason, and Princeton. There will also be unattached wrestlers from area colleges and RTCs. Keep your eyes out for a Hokie commit testing the waters on the college level this weekend!