NC State 125 lber Jakob Camacho (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
We had a full slate of ACC action this weekend and it did not disappoint! The spotlight dual--on ACC Network--was Virginia and North Carolina. It was a back-and-forth battle throughout that had to go to criteria for a team winner. NC State dominated in their first ACC dual at Duke, but we had some awesome matches in the contest. Virginia Tech also had their first ACC dual at Pitt that featured a rematch of the ACC final at 133 from last year. It was great to have three great duals to watch and I thought the coverage from ESPN was top-notch.
#18 North Carolina at Virginia
133: #10 Jaime Hernandez vs. #23 Brian Courtney
This was a heck of a way to kick off the dual! Hernandez was in action for the first time since December and looked great. We had a two-minute scramble in the first, with Courtney getting a takedown at the end of the period and a Hernandez takedown at the buzzer in the 2nd. Hernandez got an escape and cut the riding time at 57 seconds for Courtney in the third to tie it up. Then we had another wild minute-long scramble where they both looked in position to score, but no one got on the board before the buzzer. In sudden victory, Hernandez got in on a beautiful double leg that, you guessed it, turned into another wild scramble. Hernandez looked like he was going to lock up the cradle, but Courtney was able to stop the momentum on the roll through and held on top of Hernandez to pick up the takedown and the OT win. Courtney also picked up a win over Joe Heilmann in an extra match after the dual.
141: #7 Kizhan Clarke vs. Dylan Cedeno
Cedeno was back for his first match since early in the season and Clarke was looking to extend his unbeaten streak. Clarke had a great double in the first and rode out the first half of the second; he was looking for another double when he and Cedeno hit heads and Cedeno was stunned. Referee Kevin Linich did a great job catching this and stopping the action to get the trainer in to check on Cedeno. He was examined in concussion protocol and was allowed to return to action. Clarke got an escape to take the 3-2 lead in the third and then he hit a powerful double-leg to extend his lead and ice the match. I'd wager to guess that if there is a stat for most double leg takedowns to take the lead in the 3rd period, Kizhan Clarke would be the leader.
149: #22 Zach Sherman vs #26 Jarod Verkleeren
I had this circled as one of the most important matches in the dual, both for the team score and to help give clarity to the log jam at 149 in the ACC. Sherman came out like a man possessed and wrestled a fantastic match. He got an early takedown off a body lock and nearly got back points, then added a minute and a half of riding time in the first. He tacked on another minute in the second before Verk got the escape and made it 2-2 going into the 3rd. With Sherman on the bottom in the 3rd, Verkleeren was hit for stalling for a second time, making it 3-2. Then we had an emphatic brick toss from Coleman Scott to challenge an illegal hold on the restart--and he was correct. Sherman was awarded a point because when Verk had his leg laced and blocking the knee, he came off his other foot, making the hold illegal. This will not be the last time this weekend that this call will come into play. Sherman added two more escapes--one after an injury-time for a leg cramp on Verkleeren to finish the match with a 6-2 score.
157: #6 Austin O'Connor vs. #28 Jake Keating
This was a fun one. We had some great defense on display for a scoreless first period. O'Connor got a quick escape in the second for the only score. Then in the third, they opened up. Keating got an early escape, then hit a gorgeous duck to get behind for two. O'Connor got the quick escape and was right in on a single leg to get his own takedown. Keating got an immediate escape and O'Connor was right back in on the leg to get his second takedown in the final 30 seconds of the match. O'Connor picked up the 7-4 decision, but I couldn't help walking away impressed by Keating's performance.
165: Sonny Santiago vs. #15 Justin McCoy
McCoy returned to the lineup for his first ACC action this year. He picked up an early takedown in the first and added a minute of riding time before Santiago got the escape. McCoy added another minute of riding time in the second before Santiago got another escape to knot the score at 2 going into the 3rd. McCoy got a quick escape in the final period and scrambled through a Santiago shot to pick up another takedown. McCoy put on a strong ride, but Santiago was able to keep him from getting the turn to hold it to a 6-2 decision.
174: #16 Clay Lautt vs. Justin Phillips
Lautt got in on a couple good shots in the first, but Phillips was able to keep him from finishing the takedown. Lautt got a quick escape in the 2nd, then picked up a takedown and rideout for the rest of the period. Lautt scored two more takedowns in the 3rd but was unable to get the turn at the end to earn a bonus point win--he picked up an 8-2 decision.
184: #21 Gavin Kane vs. #22 Michael Battista
Both of these guys have been off to a great start this year and I expected this to be a great clash; instead, we saw Gavin Kane put on a show. Kane got an early takedown in the first with a quick escape by Battista. Kane got right back in on another shot and took Battista to his back for a 4 point nearfall and, just like that, he's up 8-1 with a minute left in the first. Kane got a quick escape in the second and added another takedown and rideout for an 11-1 lead with 2:30 in riding time going into the 3rd. Kane added two more takedowns in the third and rode out to pick up the 17-2 tech fall. Kane has looked good this season, but that match was incredibly impressive against a tough Michael Battista.
197: #28 Max Shaw vs. #11 Jay Aiello
Aiello saw that his team needed him to get a big win and took it on his shoulders to get the win and bonus. Aiello got an early takedown in the first and Shaw got the escape after a short ride for the only points in the opening period. At the start of the second, Aiello got an escape and was quickly in to finish a second takedown. He was putting on a strong ride when Shaw got his second stall call; Aiello took a 6-1 lead and 1:30 in riding time into the final period. After a Shaw escape, Aiello got in on a leg and drug Shaw back to the center of the mat to get the takedown and go up 8-2 with 45 seconds left. He cut Shaw and grabbed another takedown on the edge with 10 seconds left. To put the icing on the major, he was able to pull Shaw back for a two-count to end the match 13-3.
285: Brandon Whitman vs. #32 Quinn Miller
Going into heavyweight, it was 16-10 in favor of the Tar Heels. We had a scoreless first period, with no real shot attempts to speak of. In the second, Whitman got an escape, but Miller was quickly back in to score a takedown and ride out the period to go into the 3rd up 2-1 with 1:30 in riding time. Miller got a reversal in the third and rode the period out to earn the 5-2 decision and put the Hoos back in reach of the dual with the score 16-13 going into the final match.
125: Spencer Moore vs. Patrick McCormick
With the dual coming down to the final match, we got treated to extra wrestling again! The first period was three minutes of hard hand fighting and position battles but no points. McCormick got an escape early in the second, then there was more hand fighting and half shots to end the period. Moore earned an escape to tie it up, then McCormick stopped his shot and started a scramble that had both guys in position to score but, alas, no takedowns in this period either. We went to sudden victory tied 1-1. McCormick dropped to a low single and nearly had Moore taken down on the edge, but he was able to kick out before he had control--which was confirmed by review. McCormick picked up an outside single on the restart, but Moore was able to get free. Moore then shot a high crotch that McCormick was able to block and get the go behind for the sudden victory win and tie the team score at 16. North Carolina won by criteria with 52-45 match points scored and won the dual 17-16.
#5 NC State at Duke
The Wolfpack went to Durham on a mission for their first conference dualâ€¦and they sent a message blanking the Blue Devils 43-0. There were a few solid matches and some close bouts that we will look at, but on the scoreboard, it was all Wolfpack.
125: #15 Jakob Camacho vs Logan Agin
The match started off slow, with Camacho scoring a takedown and riding out the first period. He was able to get an escape midway through the second and seemed to start picking up the pace--he added a takedown at the end of the second to go up 5-0. Agin got an escape at the start of the third for his only points. Camacho finished a high crotch and was able to catch the bottom leg turk to get four back points. As he was releasing him, he locked up a cradle for the fall.
133: #17 Kai Orine vs. Derek Doolittle
Orine continues to impress and put on an offensive display against Doolittle. Orine got an escape to start the second, then locked Doolittle up in an over-under and threw him to his back for two and four near fall. He added another four-point nearfall on a claw tilt to finish the tech fall in the second period 17-2.
141: #24 Ryan Jack FFT
After sending out Parker Decker for his first start against Kizhan Clarke last week, Duke did not send out a 141 and Ryan Jack was awarded the forfeit.
149: #3 Tariq Wilson vs. #13 Josh Finesilver
This was definitely in the running for â€œMatch of the Weekend.â€ The stars aligned that this match was on during a concussion protocol break at the UVA/UNC match (Cedeno was ok and came back), so I got to catch it live. Both guys came out aggressive; Finesilver got in deep on a shot that was fended off, then Tariq picked up an outside single, but was unable to finish. Finesilver got in on another shot, but the length of Tariq made it difficult for him to finish on the edge. The second period started scoreless when Finesilver got a quick escape to score the first points. Finesilver was able to break through the defense of Wilson late in the second and scored a takedown on a quick drag go behind; Tariq was able to roll out for the escape before the buzzer. The score was 3-1 going into the third when Wilson got an early escape to move it to 3-2. Wilson picked up his pace and shot inside and Finesilver created a scramble. It looked like it was going to be stalemated and it felt like there was an upset brewing when Wilson was able to come out the back and mat return Finesilver to pick up the takedown with 14 seconds remaining. Finesilver got to his feet with 10 seconds left and was trying to get the escape to tie it when Wilson was hit for his first stall with 4 seconds remaining. Finesilver tried to Granby out, but Wilson was able to hold on for the win. I hope we get to see this one again in March!
157: #10 Ed Scott vs Wade Unger
Unger has shown up ready to fight in both of his ACC matches so far. Last week, he hung with Austin O'Connor and this week, he picked up the first two takedowns on Ed Scott. Unger shot an outside single almost immediately to start the match and got the first takedown, then added another when he countered a headlock attempt by Scott. Unfortunately for Unger, that would be the last points he would put up. Scott hit a beautiful fireman's for two and two back points, then went to work on top. He added a four-point nearfall with a claw tilt and another two count as the period ended with him up 12-4. Scott got a quick escape to start the second, then hit another fireman's for a takedown and yet another claw tilt for four to pick up the 19-4 tech fall.
165: #22 Thomas Bullard vs. Gabe Dinette
Bullard scored the first points of the match when he won the scramble off a Dinette shot and rode out the first period. Bullard got a reversal to start the second and put on a hard ride but was unable to pick up any nearfall. The third started in neutral and we saw a couple of scrambles, but no points were scored and Bullard took a 4-0 decision.
174: #4 Hayden Hidlay vs. #15 Matt Finesilver
This was another big matchup for both teams. The first two minutes were filled with a lot of hard hand fighting and battling for position. Hidlay shot in and created a scramble with about a minute left in the first; he was able to finish the takedown, but Finesilver was immediately up and away for an escape. Hidlay got a quick escape to start the second and created another scramble off a low single, but Finesilver was able to trap his arm and get a stalemate. We entered the third with Hidlay up 3-1. Finesilver threatened a reversal in the third but kicked out for the escape to bring the score to 3-2. Finesilver shot in with about a minute remaining and Hidlay was able to counter with a low single to finish his second takedown and take the 5-2 lead. Finesilver worked for an escape, but Hidlay was able to ride him out for the 5-2 decision. This win marked Hidlay's 100th win for the Wolfpack; it's a great milestone for someone who has been a pillar of their program.
184: #3 Trent Hidlay vs. Vince Baker
It will take me longer to write this sentence than the amount of time Trent Hidlay was on the mat for this bout. Hidlay hit a double off the opening whistle and rolled Baker through with a 2-on-1 tilt for the pin.
197: #20 Isaac Trumble vs. Kaden Russell
Not a lot of action to start this match--Russell got in on a really nice fireman's, but wasn't able to finish and we ended the first period scorelessly. Trumble put on a powerful ride in the second--he was called for an illegal hold, giving Russell a point--but he was unable to get the turn and score any back points. Trumble got an early escape in the third and weathered a series of shots from Russell but didn't give up any points. Trumble was awarded a riding time point and won a 2-1 decision.
285: Tyrie Houghton vs Jonah Niesenbaum
We had a scoreless first period in the heavyweight match. In the second period, Houghton had a strong ride and nearly got a couple turns, but Niesenbaum was able to get an escape at the end of the period. Houghton got a quick escape in the third and added a takedown and riding time point for a 4-1 decision win.
#10 Virginia Tech at #20 Pittsburgh
The Hokies traveled to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in their first conference dual of the year. The teams both agreed to move the dual to Sunday to allow for more of the Virginia Tech wrestlers to be released from Covid protocols.
125: #21 Sam Latona vs. #31 Gage Curry
We started the dual off with a lot of solid handfighting, before Curry was able to break through to pick up a takedown with 45 seconds left in the first. Latona was able to get a quick escape and shot back in and grabbed a takedown with 10 seconds left and rode out the period. Latona added a quick escape in the second for the only point of the period and went into the third up 4-2. Latona put on an impressive ride in the third and looked like he would ride out the period, but Curry was able to escape with 2 seconds remaining. Latona added a riding time point to win 5-3.
133: #5 Korbin Myers vs. #7 Micky Phillippi
We knew going in that this was going to be a good, close match, and it delivered. The first two minutes were full of hand fighting and quick arm drag attempts before Myers got in on a double leg--Phillippi was able to drape over and catch the arm to force a stalemate. There were a couple more half-shot attempts, but no points scored in the first. Phillippi got an escape to start the second and that accounted for the only scoring in the period. Phillippi was strong on top to start the third and put in legs but was unable to get a turn on the edge. On the restart, Phillippi had a leg in and blocked the knee and Coach Robie immediately threw a brick when Phillippi's plant leg came off the mat. This was the same situation we saw in the Sherman/Verkleeren match. The officials discussed the situation and Myers was awarded a point for an illegal hold from Phillippi; Coach Gavin was not pleased with the call and wasn't getting an explanation from the official, so he threw his brick to challenge the illegal hold. The penalty was upheld on review. On the restart, Myers got to his feet and Phillippi was in a similar hold when it was blown dead as potentially dangerous. Next, Myers was able to get the escape to move it to 2-1. He immediately shot in on a low single and was awarded the takedown--but the officials reviewed the call and overturned the call. Phillippi spent the next 20 seconds of the match sprinting to get the takedown but was unable to get through the hands of Myers. The match ended as a 2-1 decision for Myers.
141: Collin Gerardi vs. #18 Cole Matthews
The first period seemed to be a feeling-out period for both of them as no points were scored. Matthews got a quick escape to start the second. Gerardi got in deep on a reshot, but it was stopped as potentially dangerous before he was able to come out the back. Halfway through the second, Matthews caught Gerardi on a shot and whipped him over to his back, but was unable to establish control to get the two. Gerardi got an early escape in the third to tie it at two. Matthews countered another shot by Gerardi and was able to spin around for two. Matthews locked Gerardi up in a cradle and took him over for four, before Gerardi was able to kick out and get the escape. Matthews added on a riding time point to win the 8-2 decision.
149: Sam Hillegas vs Luke Kemerer
Hillegas got the nod at 149 to fill in for Bryce Andonian and got to work quickly. He snagged a takedown in the first 30 seconds and rode out the remainder of the first, but was unable to get a turn. Hillegas then got an escape to start the second for the only points scored that period. In the third, they started neutral and Kemerer got in on a nice high crotch but was unable to finish. He did finish his next shot to get his first takedown with 30 seconds remaining. He cut Hillegas free to try to get a takedown to tie it up, but was unable to get it done. Hillegas picked up a riding time to finish with the 5-2 win.
157: #23 Conor Brady vs. #21 Elijah Cleary
We had a tight match at 157 that went to OT. Brady got in on a deep shot in the first, but Cleary was able to fend him off. Brady got a quick escape in the second, then got in deep on a low single with about 45 seconds left in the period; Cleary showed some amazing defense in a scramble that lasted the rest of the period and was able to keep Brady from finishing the takedown. Cleary got an escape midway through the third to tie it up and send it to sudden victory. In SV, Brady got in deep on another shot and forced a scramble. Cleary was able to keep his head inside and lock up a cradle to get a takedown and a two-point nearfall to win 5-1.
165: Clayton Ulrey vs. #14 Jake Wentzel
Ulrey was given a tough task with returning NCAA runner-up Jake Wentzel. Wentzel got his first takedown off a body lock and when Ulrey got back to his feet, Coach Robie threw the brick on the mat return, saying that Wentzel had also left his feet for an illegal cutback. Ulrey was awarded a penalty point for an illegal move. Ulrey chose neutral to start the second; Wentzel was able to establish control ties but unable to get to his shot in the scoreless period. Wentzel got an escape to start the third; he was again able to control his ties and move Ulrey around the mat but was unable to finish any shots. Wentzel took the decision 4-1.
174: #3 Mekhi Lewis vs. James Lledo
Lewis established his dominance early in this match. He scored two takedowns and a four-point nearfall in the first period. He added two more takedowns in the second to take a 12-3 lead into the final period. Lewis added an escape, two takedowns and a four-point nearfall at the buzzer to win a 22-3 technical fall.
184: #12 Hunter Bolen vs. #32 Gregg Harvey
Bolen was back in the lineup for his first match since the Southern Scuffle, but he wasn't on the mat for long. He got an early single-leg on Harvey and was able to get the turn and pin in 1:30.
197: #33 Dakota Howard vs. #8 Nino Bonaccorsi
This first period was textbook for Bonaccorsi; he picked up two takedowns and rode out the first period to start the match off strong. Nino got an early escape in the second, but Howard did a much better job of controlling space in the second to keep that as the only point for the period. In the third, Bonaccorsi had a strong ride for the entire period--but as expected, Howard continued to fight throughout the match to hold Bonaccorsi to a 6-1 decision.
285: #14 Nathan Traxler vs. Jake Slinger
The final bout of the night got off to a great start with a beautiful ankle pick by Traxler to get the early lead. Traxler then loaded up a bow and arrow for a four-point nearfall at the end of the period. Traxler got a quick escape and added another takedown to have a 9-0 lead going into the third. He added another takedown and a riding time point in the third to win the 12-0 major decision.