ACC Wrestling Championships
Nicholas Clarke ACC
ACC Wrestling Set For 2008 Conference Championship
League’s 54th annual wrestling championship scheduled for this weekend
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Fresh off one of the most competitive seasons in recent memory, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s six competing institutions travel this week to College Park, Md., for the league’s 54th Annual Wrestling Championship, set to be held Saturday, March 8, in the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center.
The Terrapins, who lead all league schools with 20 all-time titles, enter this year’s championship meet looking to claim their first ACC crown since 1973. Maryland, which completed its second-straight undefeated ACC season with a 16-15 win at Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 24, is led by two of the league’s top-ranked wrestlers in 197-pounder Hudson Taylor and 184-pounder Mike Letts.
Taylor, ranked fifth nationally in the latest polls, has posted 16 pins this season, along with six major decisions. The Pennington, N.J., sophomore is perfect in ACC competition, including an impressive 10-2 win over Virginia’s Brent Jones, who was ranked No. 20 at the time, in the Terps’ last dual meet. The runner-up in the 197-lb. division at the 2007 ACC championships, Taylor carries a 21-match winning streak into this weekend’s meet.
Letts, a junior from Walnut Port, Pa., is 19-4 overall this season with a 5-0 record in ACC competition. Thanks to three wins against ranked opponents this year, and a team-leading eight wins by way of major decision, he has remained ranked among the nation’s top 10 all year, and enters the weekend rated No. 9 in the 174-lb. division.
Virginia, which won its last ACC championship in 1977, posted a league-high 18 regular-season wins this year, including three against ACC teams. The Cavaliers are led by junior Rocco Caponi, sophomore Brent Jones and freshman Chris Henrich. Caponi, a two-time ACC Wrestler of the Week honoree this season, holds a 34-2 record in the 184-lb. division this year and is currently ranked No. 11 nationally. Jones, rated No. 20 in the 197-lb. division, and Henrich, the nation’s 19th-ranked 174-pounder, have combined for 52 wins during the 2007-08 season.
Others to look out for at this year’s ACC Championships include North Carolina’s Keegan Mueller and Justin Dobies, and NC State’s Taylor Cummings, Darrion Caldwell and Joe Caramanica.
Mueller, a junior native of Dallas, Texas, has won 20-straight bouts in the 165-lb. division to move into the nation’s top 10 for the first time in his career. Now 26-3 this season, he is currently ranked No. 9 in the nation. Dobies, a freshman heavyweight, is 15-1 in dual meets and ranks 20th nationally.
The Wolfpack’s Cummings, Caldwell and Caramanica are the defending ACC champions in the 125-, 141-, and 149-lb. weight classes, respectively. Cummings is 20-11 this season, while Caldwell, the league’s 2007 Wrestler of the Year, is 27-3 overall and ranked eighth nationally in the 149-lb. division. Caramanica, ranked No. 9 in the nation among 141-pounders, is 27-4.
Doors will open for Saturday’s events at 11:00 a.m. First-round matches will start at noon, with semifinals set to begin at 2:00 p.m. and the championship finals at 8:00 p.m. For ticket information, call the University of Maryland ticket office in the Comcast Center (800-462-8377).
First Round Matches
125-Drew Forshey (UNC) #1 vs Taylor Cummings (NCS)
125-Ross Gitomer (UVA) #3 vs Justin Staylor (VT)
133-Danny Lopes (UNC) vs Darrius Little (NCS)
133-Chris Thumen (Duke) vs Steve Bell (MD) #2
141-Bryan Gibson (Duke) vs Nick Nelson (UVA)
141-Chris Diaz (VT) #3 vs Jon Kohler (MD)
149-Darrion Caldwell (NCS) #1 vs Nick Murray (VT)
149-Vincent Ramirez (UNC) #3 vs Mike Degli-Obizzi (Duke)
157-Thomas Scotton (UNC) #1 vs Matt Rosen (VT)
157-Voris Tejada (Duke) #3 vs Colton Palmer (NCS)
165-Keegan Mueller (UNC) #1 vs Jalil Dozier (NCS)
165-Matt Epperly (VT) vs Michael Chaires (UVA) #2
174-Randy Goodman (NCS) vs Kyle Kiss (UNC) #4
174-Ben Wales (Duke) vs Chris Henrich (UVA) #2
184-John Barone (Duke) vs Tommy Spellman (VT) #4
184-Josh Haines (MD) #3 vs Nick Tenpenny (UNC)
197-Hudson Taylor (MD) #1 vs Dan Tulley (Duke)
197-Brent Jones (UVA) #3 vs Mark Jahad (NCS)
285-Justin Dobies (UNC) #1 vs Jack Danilkowicz (UVA)
285-Mike Tunick (Duke) vs David Marone (VT) #2