2021 NCAA champion Austin O'Connor (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Just like last week, we only have two ACC teams in action this week. We will see UNC host in-state foe Appalachian State on Thursday, while Virginia Tech will travel to the west coast to face Lindenwood and Stanford in Palo Alto on Sunday. There will be some solid matchups in both duals and this will take us through to more ACC action in the National Collegiate Duals early next week.
#17 North Carolina:
The Tar Heels return to Carmichael Arena after a couple weeks off and will face a very scrappy Appalachian State team. While there will be a few matchups that will be fun to watch, the biggest story here is the return of #6 Austin O'Connor. O'Connor added his third All-American finish last year while fighting through a very obviously painful knee injury. He has been cleared for competition and is ready to make another run at the top of the podium. His match against Tommy Askey should be a good way to get back into competition before the Collegiate Duals next week.
There are a couple things I'm watching closely in this dual, outside of the return of AOC. We will have a fun match at 125. Caleb Smith is no slouch and can be very tough to score on. I've been very impressed with Jack Wagner this year; he's 6-2 on the year and seems to be locked in, this will be a good test for him. At 165, Will Formato has been a thorn in the side of many ACC wrestlers; he is solid in all positions and great defensively and will be a tough task for either Mazzara or Fea, though both have the ability to win this match. The last thing I'm watching for is what form we see from Gavin Kane. After a solid season last year, 15-3 in the regular season, 16-6 overall, and NCAA qualifier, he has been off to a slow start this year. He is 4-3 to start the season and hasn't looked himself in several matches. I'm hopeful that a nice break allowed him to reset and refocus and we will see him in top form going forward. This dual will make for nice Thursday night viewing. You can catch it at 7pm ET on ESPN+.
125: No. 29 Caleb Smith vs. No. 33 Jack Wagner
133: No. 24 Sean Carter vs. No. 29 Joey Melendez or Jaime Hernandez
141: Heath Gonyer vs. No. 25 Lachlan McNeil
149: No. 8 Jon Jon Millner vs. Danny Nini or Jayden Scott
157: Tommy Askey vs. No. 6 Austin O'Connor
165: No. 26 Will Formato vs. Joey Mazzara or Nicholas Fea
174: Will Miller vs. No. 8 Clay Lautt or Cade Tenold
184: Luke Uliano vs. No. 17 Gavin Kane
197: Carson Floyd vs. No. 31 Max Shaw
HWT: Mason Fiscella vs. Brandon Whitman or Aydin Guttridge
#9 Virginia Tech
The Hokies will make one final road trip out to California to end the 2022 calendar year. There are a few really fun matches to keep an eye on in the Stanford dual. The marquee matchup will be at 149 with #12 Caleb Henson facing #13 Jaden Abas. This one has the potential for a lot of offensive fireworks. At 125, Cooper Flynn should get the nod again for the Hokies and he will face #31 Nico Provo. We will also see ranked matchups at 165 with #22 Connor Brady facing former NCAA Champion #2 Shane Griffith, then at 174 another NCAA Champion #3 Mekhi Lewis fill see #25 Tyler Eischens. Another one to keep an eye on for a potential upset is at 157, I like the matchup of Clayton Ulrey and #19 Daniel Cardenas.
The Hokies will also face Lindenwood, who is in their first year of D1 competition.
No. 8 Virginia Tech vs Stanford
125 â€" Cooper Flynn vs No. 31 Nico Provo (Stanford)
133 â€" No. 12 Sam Latona vs Jackson DiSario (Stanford)
141 â€" No. 15 Tom Crook or Collin Gerardi vs No. 32 Jason Miranda (Stanford)
149 â€" No. 12 Caleb Henson vs No. 13 Jaden Abas (Stanford)
157 â€" Clayton Ulrey vs No. 19 Daniel Cardenas (Stanford)
165 â€" No. 22 Connor Brady vs No. 2 Shane Griffith (Stanford)
174 â€" No. 3 Mekhi Lewis vs No. 25 Tyler Eischens (Stanford)
184 â€" No. 7 Hunter Bolen vs Brook Byers (Stanford)
197 â€" No. 19 Andy Smith vs Nick Stemmet (Stanford)
285 â€" No. 22 Hunter Catka vs Seamus O'Malley (Stanford)
No. 8 Virginia Tech vs Lindenwood
125 â€" Cooper Flynn vs Austin Kegley (Lindenwood)
133 â€" No. 12 Sam Latona vs Ben Lindley (Lindenwood)
141 â€" No. 15 Tom Crook or Collin Gerardi vs Kalen Napier (Lindenwood)
149 â€" No. 12 Caleb Henson vs Ben Bohr (Lindenwood)
157 â€" Clayton Ulrey vs TBD
165 â€" No. 22 Connor Brady vs Kaden Charboneau (Lindenwood)
174 â€" No. 3 Mekhi Lewis vs Luke Dickhaus (Lindenwood)
184 â€" No. 7 Hunter Bolen vs Austin Raynor (Lindenwood)
197 â€" No. 19 Andy Smith vs Ryan Golnick (Lindenwood)
285 â€" No. 22 Hunter Catka vs David Hernandez (Lindenwood)