North Carolina 141 lber Lachlan McNeil (photo courtesy of SJanickiPhoto.com)
We enter week 3 in conference duals and at the completion of the night, we will have a team alone at the top of the ACC standings. North Carolina will head to Pittsburgh with the ACC dual title lead on the line. Virginia Tech is looking to rebound at Duke after a loss to Pittsburgh and Virginia is seeking their first ACC win at home against NC State. We’ve got a busy night ahead of us--let’s take a look.
#7 Virginia Tech at Duke
The Hokies are coming off a loss to Pitt at home and are looking to get back on track against the Blue Devils, who are looking for their first ACC win.
We will see a couple lineup changes for the Hokies and the Blue Devils have not announced a starter at 174--Gaetano Console got the start against UNC in week one, but they forfeited the weight last week against NC State. We will see Eddie Ventresca return to the starting spot at 125; it has been back and forth between him and Cooper Flynn with neither seeming to be able to solidify their spot when given the chance. Sam Fisher will be manning the weight at 184 with Hunter Bolen out this week and we may see Andy Smith or TJ Stewart get the nod at 197.
What to watch this dual:
The biggest thing I am looking at is how Virginia Tech responds to a poor showing last week. I expect them to send a message with their performance tonight. Keep an eye on the match at 285. Catka and Neisenbaum are pretty evenly matched and have traded wins. The last win was in sudden victory for Neisenbaum at the Keystone Classic.
No. 7 Hokies vs Blue Devils
125 – Eddie Ventresca vs Ethan Grimminger
133 – No. 7 Sam Latona vs Logan Agin
141 – No. 12 Tom Crook vs Christian Colman
149 – No. 8 Caleb Henson vs Patrick Rowland
157 – No. 5 Bryce Andonian vs Logan Ferrero
165 – No. 26 Connor Brady vs Gabe Dinette
174 – No. 3 Mekhi Lewis vs TBD
184 – Sam Fisher vs Luke Chakonis
197 – No. 22 Andy Smith or TJ Stewart vs Brayden Ray
285 – No. 23 Hunter Catka vs No. 22 Jonah Niesenbaum
#8 North Carolina State at Virginia
The Wolfpack head north to Virginia for the second time in three weeks, this time they will face the Cavaliers for a Friday night dual in Charlottesville. The Hoos are searching for their first ACC win, but will have a tall task with the #8 Wolfpack who are 1-1 in ACC competition. There will be a few ranked versus ranked matchups to keep an eye on.
141: Brian Courtney and Ryan Jack will square off in a battle of contrasting styles. Jack is a heavy favorite on paper, but Courtney wrestles a style that has given Jack problems in the past. That said, Jack has improved greatly this year and is very sound positionally, so Courtney will have to take him out of his comfort zone to make an upset happen.
149: The veteran Verkleeren will face off with true freshman Jackson Arrington who has been very impressive this year. Verkleeren has wrestled very well in ACC competition and will be looking to use his experience to his advantage.
184: Trent Hidlay has been on an incredible run this season and is coming in with only one loss. Neil Antrassian has been one of the highlights of the year for the Hoos; he is 19-5 on the year and is 1-1 in the ACC with a win over Reece Heller and a close loss to Gavin Kane. I’m interested to see if Antrassian can slow down the firepower of Hidlay and make it a match.
197: Michael Battista has been impressive in the back half of the season but will have a tall task facing Isaac Trumble. It is a clash of different body styles and wrestling styles; Battista has won several close matches against top competition while Trumble has, for the most part, widened the gap--putting up big scores and multiple pins.
#8 NC State at Virginia
125: Patrick McCormick vs No. 28 Jarrett Trombley
133: Marlon Yarbrough II OR Keyveon Roller vs No. 25 Kai Orine
141: No. 29 Brian Courtney vs No. 4 Ryan Jack
149: No. 26 Jarod Verkleeren vs No. 17 Jackson Arrington
157: Jake Keating OR Denton Spencer vs No. 7 Ed Scott
165: No. 17 Justin McCoy vs No. 25 Matty Singleton OR Derek Fields
174: Vic Marcelli OR Hudson Stewart OR Justin Phillips vs No. 29 Alex Faison
184: No. 17 Neil Antrassian vs No. 3 Trent Hidlay
197: No. 24 Michael Battista vs No. 9 Isaac Trumble
285: Ethan Weatherspoon OR Colden Dorfman vs No. 12 Owen Trephan
#25 North Carolina at #16 Pittsburgh
We have a Friday Night Duals showcase to determine the leader in the ACC dual standings. Both teams are coming in undefeated in ACC competition. North Carolina has wins over Duke and Virginia, while Pitt has a win over Virginia and an upset win over Virginia Tech last week.
We have seen all year that Pitt has a dangerous team, especially with the experienced leaders they have in a dual setting. UNC struggled to open the season, but since returning several starters from injury have been on a solid run. This matchup comes at a great time for both programs. Neither were favored to win the ACC dual title to start the year, but they have put themselves in position to earn at least a share of the title with a win tonight and both programs have a path to victory in this dual. Each team still has difficult tests upcoming; Pitt will face NC State, while UNC will face both NC State and Virginia Tech.
Let’s look at how this one shakes out:
125: I’m hoping they start at 125 because this one could go a long way to determining the winner. Jack Wagner has had a stellar season thus far and comes in at 18-5 overall and 2-0 in the ACC. Camacho is 13-6 overall and 2-0 in the ACC, he has won his last three matches by bonus going tech fall, major, pin.
133: This heavily favors Micky Phillippi, as he holds the advantage in experience and overall record. Jace Palmer has emerged as the starter at 133 over the past few weeks and is 2-0 in the ACC.
141: I’ve had this match circled on my calendar since the preseason--and if we are being honest, so has Lachlan McNeil. When I spoke with him before the World Championships, he highlighted this matchup as one he is most looking forward to in the ACC, because he wants to be tested against the best. Matthews is one of the most consistent wrestlers in the country and has only one blemish on his record. McNeil started the season a little more slowly, but has been on an absolute tear as of late--he is 18-5 overall and has won the past 12. Their styles are polar opposites; Matthews is stellar defensively and has impressive counterattacks. McNeil is very aggressive offensively and can put up points in bunches. This could be a very fun matchup.
149: Tyler Badgett has had a good season for the Panthers and has come through with some clutch wins. I am curious who we will see for the Tar Heels. Sherman had looked great since returning from injury, but he injured his shoulder last week against Jarod Verkleeren and was in obvious pain. This is very much a toss up weight.
157: This leans heavily in favor of the Tar Heels. NCAA champ and multiple-time All-American Austin O’Connor will be looking to extend his undefeated season over Jared Keslar who is in for an injured Dazjon Casto.
165: Holden Heller is 2-0 in the ACC with ranked wins over Justin McCoy and Connor Brady; he will likely face Joey Mazzara who is 1-1 in the conference with a win over Gabe Dinette and a close loss to Justin McCoy. Heller has had a great season so far and will be slightly favored here.
174: This is another “OR” weight for the Tar Heels. Clay Lautt was out for a long time with injury, but wrestled the first ACC dual against Duke. Michael Goldfeder got the nod, and the win, last week by injury default over Vic Marcelli. The coaching staff continues to say that it is a day-to-day decision of whether he will start, so we’ll see who runs out in Pittsburgh. Luca Augustine will get the start for the Panthers. He is 1-1 in the ACC with a win over Vic Marcelli and a loss to Mekhi Lewis.
184: This will be a fun match. Both guys can be wide open and have some impressive funk ability. Kane is very dangerous from neutral and Heller has proven to be dangerous both on top and bottom. Kane is 2-0 with wins over Neil Antrassian and Luke Chakonis; Heller is 1-1 with a loss to Neil Antrassian and a defensive pin win over Hunter Bolen. This one could be wild.
197: Nino Bonaccorsi has taken care of business every time he’s stepped on to the mat this year and enters with a perfect record; he is heavily favored to keep that perfect record intact against either Max Shaw or Cade Lautt. Bonaccorsi is 2-0 in conference while Shaw and Lautt are both 0-1 with losses to Vince Baker and Michael Battista, respectively.
285: Dayton Pitzer got the go ahead last week and got his first ACC win over Hunter Catka. He still has two dates to utilize before a redshirt decision has to be made. Whitman is 0-1 with a sudden victory loss to Jonah Neisenbaum and Aydin Guttridge is 1-0 with a win over Ethan Weatherspoon.
Friday Night Probables
No. 25 North Carolina at No. 16 Pitt
125: No. 19 Jack Wagner vs. Colton Camacho
133: Jace Palmer vs. No. 7 Micky Phillippi
141: No. 13 Lachlan McNeil vs. No. 3 Cole Matthews
149: No. 27 Zach Sherman or Wil Guida or Jayden Scott vs. No. 29 Tyler Badgett
157: No. 3 Austin O'Connor vs. Jared Keslar
165: Joey Mazzara or Gino Esposito vs. No. 23 Holden Heller
174: No. 8 Clay Lautt or Michael Goldfeder vs. Luca Augustine
184: No. 13 Gavin Kane vs. No. 19 Reece Heller
197: Max Shaw or Cade Lautt vs. No. 2 Nino Bonaccorsi
HWT: Brandon Whitman vs. No. 5 Dayton Pitzer or Jake Slinger