It was a busy week on the road for the ACC; Virginia and Pitt both had duals while NC State, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech traveled to Las Vegas for the CKLV.
The Blue Devils were off this week. They will return to action next weekend at Davidson.
The Tar Heels brought back one podium finish from Vegas, with #3 Lachlan McNeil finishing in third. Across the lineup, they had positive things to take away from the performance. #25 Spencer Moore, Jayden Scott, #10 Gavin Kane, and #18 Max Shaw all went 2-2 on the weekend. Kane and Shaw both made the quarterfinal round before falling in back-to-back matches to finish their tournament.
McNeil wrestled well throughout the weekend. He opened with wins by major decision and tech fall before beating #19 Anthony Echemendia in the quarterfinals 9-6. He faced conference rival #7 Ryan Jack in the semifinals. This was the fourth meeting between the two, all of which had been decided by two points or less. Round four proved to be no different. They traded escapes in the second and third periods and both were in on shots that they were unable to finish throughout the match. It was a takedown with :30 seconds left in the match that was the difference in the 4-3 win by Jack. McNeil rebounded well from the loss beating #24 Taegan Jamison and #9 Cael Happel to finish in 3rd.
The Tar Heels are off this week and will host Morgan State and travel to Appalachian State next weekend.
The Wolfpack had an outstanding showing in Vegas, bringing home titles from #4 Kai Orine and #5 Trent Hidlay and adding four other placers, including a runner-up finish from #7 Ryan Jack.
I had some questions about Orine coming in based on how he looked in his only other two bouts, but he erased all those concerns with his performance this tournament. He looked fantastic from the opening whistle and was consistently looking to score more points. Orine went major, tech fall, then two decision wins over ranked opponents in the quarters (Gabe Wisenhunt) and semis (Derrick Cardinal) before putting on a clinic in the finals, winning by major decision over Evan Frost.
Ryan Jack had a stellar tournament as well, making a run to the finals. He had ranked wins in the quarterfinals (#9 Cael Happel) and a semi-final win over familiar conference foe #3 Lachlan McNeil. He faced a very dangerous #5 Jesse Mendez in the finals, dropping by decision 5-2; this was the first non-bonus win of the year for Mendez. I was very impressed by Jack’s performance, especially his offensive output.
Trent Hidlay won his second-straight CKLV title, this year at 197, and made a national statement at the weight class. He had two tech falls; including over ranked #20 Evan Bockman in the quarters and a major decision over #6 Jacob Cardenas in the semifinals. He won a low-scoring, but controlled, decision over #9 Jaxon Smith in the finals. I’ve been saying it all year, but he showed it on the big stage this weekend--Trent Hidlay is a monster at 197.
The Wolfpack had three other placers in Vegas. #6 Jackson Arrington placed 8th, he looked solid all weekend but medically defaulted (precautionary) after securing his podium finish. #20 Dylan Fishback navigated a very difficult 184 bracket, including a win over All-American #3 Trey Munoz to place 7th as a freshman. #8 Ed Scott shook off an early round loss to #19 Peyton Kellar and reeled off six straight wins to place 3rd. Scott had ranked wins over #20 Tommy Askey, #10 Trevor Chumbley, #6 Will Lewan, and his second-straight win over #5 Bryce Andonian on the back side of the bracket.
The Wolfpack will be off this weekend and back in action at the Collegiate Duals on December 19th when they will face Lock Haven, UNI, and Ohio State.
The Panthers opened their home dual slate on Sunday, beating Illinois 22-9. They controlled the dual after dropping the opening match and never looked back.
The dual opened at 157 with a decision loss by Jared Keslar. #9 Holden Heller followed at 165, mounting a strong comeback to win by decision. #20 Luca Augustine wrestled well but dropped a decision to #4 Edmond Ruth. The Panthers went on a nice run after the 174 match. #15 Reece Heller won by major, followed by a decision win from #19 Mac Stout. The biggest win of the dual was an upset by #11 Dayton Pitzer in a decisive 10-3 decision over #8 Luke Luffman. Colton Camacho continued the streak with a 5-0 shutout over a scrappy Justin Cardani. #17 Vinnie Santaniello picked up a ranked win over #24 Tony Madrigal. The final two matches were wild. #27 Danny Pucino knocked off #13 Cole Matthews in sudden victory, followed by a furious comeback win by #23 Finn Solomon to close out the dual.
The Panthers will have another big dual this weekend when they travel to Columbus to face Ohio State on Sunday.
The Hoos faced the Bison on Saturday in North Dakota in a back-and-forth dual that came down to the heavyweight bout; they came out on top 21-18 with a clutch win by Ryan Catka in the final bout. Kyle Montaperto dropped the opening bout by decision before UVA reeled off four straight wins. #30 Marlon Yarbrough by pin, #22 Jack Gioffre by decision, #27 Michael Gioffre by decision in sudden victory with a gritty takedown, and capped by a pin from Dylan Cedeno at 157.
They opened a big lead at the halfway point but the Bison came storming back sandwiching pins at 165 and 184 around a #8 Justin McCoy decision win at 174. Colden Dorfman dropped the 197 bout by decision to knot the score at 18 going into the final match. Ryan Catka slammed the door with a controlling decision win to move his season record to 3-0 and give the Hoos the dual victory.
Virginia will not be back in action until late December when they travel to the Midlands.
The Hokies were the final ACC team in Vegas, bringing a smaller lineup of seven wrestlers, they came home with four podium finishers. They were led by a runner-up finish from Caleb Henson, Bryce Andonian finished in 4th, true freshman Sonny Sasso 6th and Sam Fisher 8th.
Henson had a phenomenal tournament. He opened with a tech fall and a major decision, then won a 10-6 decision over #7 Chance Lamer in the quarterfinals. He controlled the match in the semifinals to take a 5-0 victory over #3 Kyle Parco before facing #1 Ridge Lovett in the finals. The finals very much had the feel of a medal match at the NCAA tournament. Both guys were in on shots that they didn’t finish and both pushed the pace. Lovett earned a takedown in the first and Henson matched it at the end of the second. Down one in the third Henson fired off multiple shots and got into a great position at the end of the match, putting Lovett in a 2-count in danger but not able to get the full 3 seconds to earn the takedown at the buzzer. I would’ve loved to see the referee in a better position here to start the count when Lovett was first put into danger, but alas, it was a 2-count. I was super impressed by Henson this weekend, and he continues to show that he can go with anyone in the country.
Bryce Andonian finished in fourth in a wild weight. He dropped in the round of 16 to freshman/former World Champion Myer Shapiro, before making a run on the backside. Andonian had a pin over #18 Cody Chittum, decision over #13 Cael Swenson, decision over #16 Paddy Gallagher, and a major decision over #9 Daniel Cardenas before dropping his final bout to familiar opponent #8 Ed Scott in the 3rd place match. Bryce didn’t have his best match against a very good Shapiro, but bounced back well and was able to get back in the tournament mentally, which shows continued growth by him.
Sam Fisher had a solid run to finish on the podium for the first time at CKLV. He lost early to #8 Gavin Hoffman but made a run on the backside, defeating #10 Gavin Kane to ensure placement. He dropped his final two matches to #5 Dustin Plott and #20 Dylan Fishback. Sonny Sasso also had a great tournament--especially when you consider he is a true freshman and not currently the starter. He lost his opening match to #2 Tanner Sloan before making a wild run in the consi bracket. He beat #28 Bobby Striggow by decision, #21 Evan Bates, and #25 Levi Hopkins by major decision and pinned #13 Nick Stemmet before dropping his final two bouts to #6 Jacob Cardenas and #8 Silas Allred. An incredibly impressive tournament from the true freshman.
The Hokies will be back in action next weekend when they host Stanford.