Pittsburgh 133 lber Micky Phillippi (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Week one of ACC duals certainly didn’t disappoint. We saw one of the best duals in the country in the yearly rivalry dual between NC State and Virginia Tech. We also saw North Carolina and Pittsburgh pick up dominating wins and put themselves into the conversation for the ACC dual title. We’ve got another fun night of ACC action ahead tonight, with the spotlight dual in Blacksburg on ACC Network. The duals in Raleigh and Chapel Hill will be on ACC Network Extra.
Duke at North Carolina State
The Wolfpack will be looking to bounce back and make a statement after a close loss in a fantastic dual last weekend in Blacksburg. Duke is looking to improve on a 2-win performance against UNC last week.
While there aren’t any ranked versus ranked matchups, there will be a few things to keep an eye on tonight. There will be several lineup changes on both sides with the biggest changes for the Wolfpack as they rest a couple starters. Luke Ahrberg will get the start at 165, while Dylan Fishback will slide in at 184. Tyrie Houghton will get the nod against #22 Jonah Neisenbaum. Houghton took a 4-1 decision in the dual last year. This will also be the first time that Jarred Papscy faces his former team; he is wrestling his final season as a grad transfer for Duke.
125: #26 Jarrett Trombley vs Ethan Grimminger
133: #25 Kai Orine vs Logan Agin
141: #5 Ryan Jack vs Jarred Papscy
149: #17 Jackson Arrington vs Patrick Rowland
157: #7 Ed Scott vs Logan Ferrero
165: Luke Ahrberg vs Gabe Dinette
174: #31 Alex Faison vs Conor Becker
184: Dylan Fishback vs Luke Chakonis
197: #9 Isaac Trumble vs Brayden Ray
285: Tyrie Houghton vs #22 Jonah Neisenbaum
Virginia at #26 North Carolina
Virginia is coming off a down performance against Pitt while the Tar Heels were on the winning side of a lopsided dual against Duke last week. There are a few matches in this dual that will play a big role in seeding at the ACC tournament that shouldn’t go under the radar.
A few things to watch for:
Will we see Brian Courtney again this week for the Hoos, or will Dylan Cedeno get the nod against Lachlan McNeil? McNeil has looked phenomenal of late and is on an 11-match winning streak. Jarod Verkleeren wrestled well last week, picking up a ranked win in his return from injury; he will face Zach Sherman who is 4-2 since returning from injury this month.
The marquee match for this dual is at 184 with Gavin Kane and Neil Antrassian squaring off. Kane has been on a tear since a slow-ish start to the year. He has won 11 straight and is unbeaten in 2023. Antrassian has been a huge story for the Hoos, putting together a 19-4 season in his first year in a UVA singlet. Kane took a 6-3 decision over Antrassian at the Southeast Open, but both of these guys are wrestling on another level than they were at the beginning of November. This could be a fun one. Both wrestlers have great neutral games and can be hammers on top.
No. 26 North Carolina vs. Virginia
125: No. 19 Jack Wagner vs. Patrick McCormick
133: Jace Palmer or Joey Melendez vs. Marlon Yarbrough or Keyveon Roller
141: No. 13 Lachlan McNeil vs. No. 29 Brian Courtney or Dylan Cedeno
149: No. 25 Zach Sherman or Wil Guida vs. No. 28 Jarod Verkleeren
157: No. 3 Austin O'Connor vs. Jake Keating
165: Joey Mazzara or Gino Esposito vs. No. 17 Justin McCoy or Nick Hamilton
174: No. 9 Clay Lautt or Michael Goldfeder vs. Vic Marcelli
184: No. 13 Gavin Kane vs. No. 18 Neil Antrassian
197: Max Shaw or Cade Lautt vs. No. 24 Michael Battista
285: Aydin Guttridge or Brandon Whitman vs. Ethan Weatherspoon or Jessie Knight
#24 Pittsburgh at #7 Virginia Tech
Blacksburg will be the site of the ACC dual of the week for the second straight Friday. Pitt took a dominating win in Charlottesville last week and the Hokies had a big win over NC State to take the early lead in the race to the ACC dual title. This is a sneaky good dual with several ranked versus ranked matchups, including a top-10 battle at 133.
125: Cooper Flynn will get the go for the Hokies after a sudden-victory loss by Eddie Ventresca in the dual last week. He will face Colton Camacho who is coming off a lopsided win over Patrick McCormick.
133: Top-10 showdown between #5 Sam Latona and #7 Micky Phillippi in a major clash of styles. This one will be very interesting to watch. Phillippi is an incredible defensive wrestler and very difficult to score on, while Latona attacks in volume capitalizing on his length to get to legs. We’ve seen that Latona can score on anyone, but we’ve seen Phillippi shut down the top wrestlers in the country. This one will likely determine the top seed at the ACC tournament.
141: Another huge match between #3 Cole Matthews and #12 Tom Crook. Matthews has only one blemish in an otherwise stellar season and has been wrestling very well, picking up a ranked win over Brian Courtney last week. Crook has been one of the top true-freshman in the country and lost a 2-1 decision to #5 Ryan Jack last week on the strength of a riding time point. Crook can go with anyone in the country and will be looking for a statement win, Matthews is looking to show that he is still the top dog at 141.
149: Caleb Henson has been phenomenal all year and has knocked off three All-Americans to earn his top-10 ranking. Badgett has had a solid season but is coming off a loss to Jarod Verkleeren last week. It will be a tough test for Badgett to topple Henson, but he has shown the ability to keep matches close.
157: The country was electrified by the return of Bryce Andonian last week in a dominating win over #7 Ed Scott. Casto has struggled this season, but seems to be getting back on track. He had a good win last week against Jake Keating. Like any time Andonian steps onto the mat, I’d expect fireworks--it will be good to see where Casto is at against a very tough opponent.
165: One of the biggest coin flip matches of the dual. Holden Heller had a huge win over #15 Justin McCoy last week and looked great in all three positions. Connor Brady is coming off a heartbreaking sudden victory loss to Matty Singleton and will be looking to make a statement. This could be a really fun match if both guys open up.
174: Luca Augustine has had an up-and-down season, and he will face one of the most dangerous wrestlers in the country tonight against Mekhi Lewis. This will be a very big ask of the redshirt freshman.
184: Hunter Bolen will get another tough test after his sudden victory loss to #3 Trent Hidlay last week in a very dangerous Reece Heller. Heller has had a great year for the Panthers, including a Midlands title, but is coming off a tough loss to #18 Neil Antrassian. 184 is a deep and tough weight in the ACC and this matchup could loom large for March.
197: Andy Smith pulled off the upset of the week last week over #9 Isaac Trumble, cementing the win for the Hokies. We will either see him or true freshman TJ Stewart against an undefeated and always-dangerous Nino Bonaccorsi. Nino has looked incredible every time he has stepped on the mat this year, and I wouldn’t expect anything different tonight. This will be a tough test for whoever the Hokies send out.
285: We go to our weekly question of “will we see Dayton Pitzer?”. I’m guessing, like most weeks, we won’t know until the introductions at 285. Catka had a tough loss to a very good Owen Trephan in sudden victory last week and will be looking for a rebound win. The Panthers could send out Jake Slinger, who is coming off a win over Jessie Knight but has been inconsistent this season--or they could send out undefeated Dayton Pitzer. Pitzer has three more dates that can be used before Gavin and company have to decide his redshirt status--will this be one of those dates?
No. 7 Virginia Tech Hokies vs No. 24 Pittsburgh Panthers
125 – Cooper Flynn, r-Fr vs Colton Camacho, r-Jr
133 – No. 5 Sam Latona, r-Jr vs No. 7 Micky Phillippi, r-Sr
141 – No. 12 Tom Crook, Fr vs No. 3 Cole Matthews, Jr
149 – No. 9 Caleb Henson, Fr vs No. 29 Tyler Badgett, r-So
157 – No. 5 Bryce Andonian, Sr vs No. 33 Dazjon Casto, Sr
165 – No. 25 Connor Brady, r-So vs No. 23 Holden Heller, r-Sr
174 – No. 3 Mekhi Lewis, r-Sr vs Luca Augustine, r-Fr
184 – No. 7 Hunter Bolen, r-Sr vs No. 19 Reece Heller, r-Jr
197 – No. 22 Andy Smith, r-So OR TJ Stewart, Fr vs No. 2 Nino Bonaccorsi, r-Sr
285 – No. 23 Hunter Catka, r-So vs No. 5 Dayton Pitzer, Fr or Jake Slinger, Sr