Cavalier 165 lber Justin McCoy (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
The Hoos travel east to the Virginia Duals at Hampton Coliseum for action Friday and Saturday. They will face Chattanooga, Lock Haven, Kent State and Oklahoma over the two days. Due to COVID procedures within the program, all duals will be contested as Extra College Matches and the results will not count toward team points, but individual bouts will count toward the season record. I'm hopeful that we still get some solid matches out of the lineup that UVA will send. The lineup for the weekend will consist of the following:
133-#14 Brian Courtney
157-Jake Keating, Jon Errico
165-#16 Justin McCoy
197-#16 Jay Aiello
There are a few significant (potential) matchups that I'm keeping an eye on this weekend. Against Chattanooga: McCormick vs #22 Fabian Gutierrez and #14 Courtney vs #21 Brayden Palmer. I'm also interested to see a new transfer from Northern Illinois, Nicholas Benton, take on #16 Jay Aiello at 197. In the Lock Haven match, we will only see one ranked opponent, but it will be a great test for McCormick. Anthony Noto is 17-1 on the year and ranked #27 in the country. He is a transfer from ACC foe NC State and has looked very impressive this year. It will be a solid match for McCormick to see if he can continue his momentum coming off a good weekend at the F&M Open. On day two, they will face Kent State and Oklahoma. Kent State doesn't currently have anyone ranked, but has a couple tough lightweights that will be good matchups for UVA. Jake Ferri at 125 and Brenden Fenton at 133 will both be solid matchups.
The final match against #21 Oklahoma could provide the most fireworks for the Hoos. At 125 will be the return to VA for #16 Joey Prata, who transferred from VT and is a familiar opponent for McCormick. #14 Courtney could face #13 Anthony Madrigal--but he isn't listed in the probables for OU. Jarod Verkleeren could face a tough test in Dom Demas for the Sooners at 149-he only has one match at 149 this year, but #15 Mitch Moore (also a VT transfer) has been out with injury. At 157, Jake Keating made his return to the lineup at the MatMen Open and will face #16 Justin Thomas for the Sooners. #16 Justin McCoy will put his 9-0 record on the line against #28 Joe Grello at 165. Michael Battista will face #21 Darrien Roberts, who has had a quietly strong start to his season at 10-3. The final match will be the biggest! #16 Jay Aiello returned to the lineup over the winter break and has started off 3-0. He will face his toughest task of the year with #11 Jake Woodley. Both are three-time NCAA qualifiers and Woodley made his breakthrough to become an All-American, placing 6th last season. Both are very strong wrestlers who are able to control the match, so it will be a fun one to watch. The Hoos return to action next week to open ACC competition at Pittsburgh on 1/21.