ACC Conference Recap (1/23/23)

Virginia Tech All-American Bryce Andonian (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki;

Opening night for ACC did not disappoint. The Virginia Tech vs. NC State dual got the national spotlight and they put on a show. North Carolina and Pitt both picked up lopsided wins on the road. We are off and running in conference competition; Let’s take a look at how the weekend played out.

#28 North Carolina at Duke

North Carolina took on their Tobacco Road rival and left Cameron Indoor Stadium with a statement victory. The Tar Heels won the first eight games, including seven bonus-point wins.

One of the highlights of the evening was the return of Clay Laut to the UNC lineup. Laut is out of the Appalachian State dual in mid-December. He returned with an offensive showcase, with an 18-3 tech fall over Gaetano Console. Lautt’s season record moved to 6-2 for the season. Lout will favor his next two matches before a top-10 showdown with Mekhi Lewis.

It was a tough evening for Duke, but they finished the dual with two big wins. Vince Baker extends his season record to 5-3 with Max Shaw at 197; It was a quality win for Baker who has quietly started strong for the Blue Devils; Two of his three losses are to top 12 ranked wrestlers. Jonah Neigenbaum ended the night on a positive note for Duke, winning a hard-fought 3-1 sudden victory over Brandon Whitman.

The Tar Heels made an offensive showing after opening the dual with a loss for Zach Wagner. Their lowest match point total of the evening was Jas Palmer’s 7-6 decision over Logan Egin. The next six games were bonus point wins for UNC. Lachlan McNeil dominated Jarred Papscy in a 17-2 technical fall. Jack Sherman bounced back from last week’s loss, earning his first bonus point win of the year with a 12-1 major decision over Patrick Rowland. Austin O’Connor continued his undefeated season, adding his 11th bonus point win with a first period win over Preston Decker.

In the second half of dual play, Joey Mazara continued his scoring spree with a 12-2 major decision over Gabe Dinnett, wrestling in his second match of the season. After Clay Laut’s comeback, Gavin Kane worked for a technical fall, but fell just short with an 18-5 major decision over Luke Chakonis to round out the wins for the Tar Heels.

The Tar Heels will return to Carmichael Arena to host Virginia next Friday night while Duke heads across the Triangle to face NC State.

No. 28 North Carolina 37, Duke 6

125: No. 22 Jack Wagner by forfeit
133: Jess Palmer over Logan Eggin 7-6 Dec
141: No 13 Lachlan McNeil over Jared Papsey 17-2 TF
149: Patrick Rowland 12-1 MD over No. 25 Zach Sherman
157: No. 4 Austin O’Connor over Preston Decker by fall 2:32
165: Gabe Dinette 12-2 MD over Joey Mazzara
174: No. 9 Clay Lout over Gaetano Consol 18-3 TF
184: Luke Chakonis 18-5 over MD No. 14 Gavin Kane
197: Vincent Baker over Max Shaw 3-2 Dec
285: No. 22 Jonah Niesenbaum over Brandon Whitman 3-1 SV Dec.

#24 Pittsburgh at Virginia

The Panthers traveled to Charlottesville to open ACC competition and came away with a lopsided victory over the Hoos. Pitt looked impressive from the first whistle and showed they would be in contention for the ACC dual title. Virginia didn’t have the same pop from their strong performance at the Virginia Duals and opened their home slate with a disappointing loss.

The dual began at 157 with Dajjon Casto’s 14-8 victory over Jake Keating–Casto was able to open the match with a six-point lead at the end of the second period. It was a much-needed win for Casto, who has been inconsistent to this point and will look to build on his performance at the ACC Duals. Holden Heller followed that up with an upset win over Justin McCoy. The Panthers added their third-straight win to start the dual with a decision win at 174 from Luca Augustin.

Hus got on the board in one of the most anticipated matches of the doubles. Neal Anthracian gets an upset win over Reece Heller. This was a very entertaining, back and forth match with some outstanding scrambles. 184 is a, if not difficult, weight in the ACC; That’s five wrestlers in the top-20 and two in the top-10. It will be a very interesting weight to watch and pick next month. At 197, Nino Bonacorsi earned a 7-4 decision over Michael Batista who had two upset wins in Hampton. Batista was able to slow Nino down after giving up two takedowns in the first, but his late takedowns in the third weren’t enough to knock down the undefeated Bonacorsi.

Jake Slinger opened the second half of the dual with a 4-0 win over Jesse Knight, who was making his first bout back from injury in the Midlands. Colton Camacho had an impressive 14-1 major decision over Patrick McCormick at 125. In another highly-anticipated matchup, Cole Matthews defeated Brian Courtney 4-1 in his fourth official match of the season. Jarod Verkleeren was able to end the night on a positive note for the Hoos, notching an upset win over Tyler Badgett. Vark picked up an early takedown and never relinquished the lead–a ​​good win for him returning to the lineup from injury.

Even though the Panthers got the win, I think the Hoos have seen a lot of results that they feel confident they can overturn. I look forward to seeing how both teams react to this duel. Pitt will look to continue their momentum as they head back to Virginia next week to take on a top-10 Virginia Tech squad. The Hoos will look to bounce back and make the adjustments they need to knock off the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill on Friday.

No. 24 Pitt 25, Virginia 6

157: Dajon Casto dec. No. 33 Jake Keating 14-8
165: No. 31 Holden Heller dec. No. 15 Justin McCoy 9-3
174: Luca Augustin dec. Vic Marselli 4-1
184: No. 20 Blue Anthracian Dec. No. 17 Reece Heller 7-3
197: No. 2 Nino Bonacorsi dec. No. 24 Michael Batista 7-4
HWT: Jake Slinger dec. Jesse Knight 4-0
125: Colton Camacho def. Dec. Patrick McCormick 14-1
133: No. 7 Mickey Filippi dec. Marlon Yarbrough II 7-3
141: No. 3 Cole Matthews dec. No. 29 Brian Courtney 4-1
149: No. 30 Jarod Verkleeren dec. No. 29 Tyler Badgett 5-3

North Carolina State at Virginia Tech

It’s hard to put into words how incredible this night was for ACC wrestling. Dual competition. Top ten teams. 20 ranked wrestlers. upset Sudden victory. All-American Bryce Andonian returns in a top-10 showdown. Six rounds of Hidley-Bollen. And to top it off, getting a top-10 wrestler upset by a hometown kid is double-iced for the Hokies. It has become a must-see match every year, and I’m glad I was there to witness the spectacle in person.

The dual began with a sudden victory over Eddie Ventresca from Jarrett Trombley. Although Ventresca was more aggressive throughout the match, Trombley showed off his counter-offense skills and both wrestlers were able to finish takedowns almost regularly. It was a wild sequence to end the match–Ventresca snuck a low single off the whistle and almost had Trombley on the backside before being able to grab a whizzer and hip over. As Ventresca fought him off, Trombley was able to keep him in danger for the three-count and the winning takedown. Sam Latona got the Hawkeyes on the board 3-1 against Kai Orin. It was close to the scoreboard despite Latona getting in several takedowns and taking Orrin’s legs in the air. Orrin showed some incredible physical awareness and defensive skills to counter Latona’s efforts.

Ryan Jack scored a 2-1 decision over Tom Crook on the strength of riding time. Crook closed the gap on CKLV as Jack cruised to an 8-2 win. In a battle of true freshmen at 149, Caleb Henson was dominant with a 6-1 decision over Jackson Arrington. Henson got a takedown halfway through the first period and never looked back. They traded escapes and Henson added a second takedown and a rideout to end the match. This will be a fun series to watch over the next few years.

#6 Bryce Andonian made his official debut on the season at 157 facing #7 Ed Scott in a match that reminded everyone why you can’t look away when either of these guys are wrestling. Andonian takes an early shot and when Scott locks in his upper body, Andonian tosses him to his back for 2 and 4 to open the match. On the restart, Andonian locks up a cradle and rolls to pick up another four count–but Scott manages to get to his feet and uses a body lock and trip to take Andonian to his back for 2 and 4. It happened in the first two minutes of the match–10-6 Andonian. On the restart, Scott loaded a 2-on-1 and tried to roll for a tilt but Andonian was able to cast over his hips and catch Scott for another set of 2 and 4s. 16-6 first and the madness wasn’t over when he pushed to get a technical fall, Andonian added 8 more points with takedowns and escapes that Scott countered with two reversals to hold him for a 24-10 major decision. This whole match was pretty chaotic and incredibly entertaining to watch. I can’t wait until they meet again.

At 165, true freshman Matty Singleton was able to counter a Connor Brady takedown in sudden victory to take a 5-3 decision. After this match, the Wolfpack lost a team point after Singleton “dropped” his headgear. Although this is the rule, it is a disgusting interpretation. He threw his headgear on his bench, he didn’t spike it, he wasn’t trying to show anyone off. He was excited and it cost his team a point; I’m so glad the dual didn’t come down to one point. Mekhi Lewis was pushing for a major decision against Alex Faison, but ended up with an 8-2 decision.

Hidley-Bolen VI saw the most points on the board that we’ve seen in this matchup. Boleyn was able to slow down Hidley early and prevent him from scoring from his underhook. After going scoreless in the first, Bolen made a quick escape and then was able to score a takedown at the end of the second and take a 3-0 lead into the third. Hidley was able to quickly escape and was pressing for a takedown to take it up even further. He managed to get a body lock on a single leg and got the tying takedown with 20 seconds left via Bolen’s whizzer. In sudden victory, Hidley rose to the same position and again worked through Bowlen’s defense to take the lead 5–3 and even the series 3–3.

Going into the final two bouts, it started to look better for the Wolfpack and they were favored in both matches. At 197, Andy Smith was able to slow down the very dangerous Isaac Trumble and prevent him from scoring on his feet. It was tied late in the third when Trumble went deep with a shot. Smith showed some incredible defense and surprisingly strong hips to not only stop the takedown, but break Trumble’s grip and get to his feet in a reshot and earn the winning takedown. Cassell Coliseum erupted as the Christiansburg-native pulled off his second top-10 upset of the season; This made the team score 16-11 in the final match, meaning the Wolfpack would need a pin from Wayne Trefan to win. Catka and Trephan were very evenly matched and both were able to fight off takedown attempts – sending Taka to sudden victory for the fourth time on the night. Trefan countered a sharp shot in the extra frame to make it 3-1 but it wasn’t enough for the Wolfpack to win.

The Hokies are now in the driver’s seat for the ACC dual title, but it’s far from over. They will welcome an exuberant Pitt team to the Castle Coliseum on Friday. NC State will look to return home when they host Duke.

No. 8 Virginia Tech 16, No. 5 NC State 14

125: No. 29 Jarrett Trombley def. No. 20 Eddie Ventresca 3-1 dec.
133: No. 5 Sam Latona def. No. 25 Kai Orin 3-1 dec.
141: No. 6 Ryan Jack def. No. 12 Tom Crook 2-1 Dec
149: No. 9 Caleb Henson def. No. 15 Jackson Arrington 6-1 dec.
157: No. 6 Bryce Andonian def. No. 7 Ed Scott 24-10 major dec.
165: No. 32 Matty Singleton def. No. 20 Connor Brady 5-3 SV1
174: No. 3 Mekhi Lewis def. No. 32 Alex Faison 8-2 dec.
184: No. 3 Trent Hidley def. No. 7 Hunter Bolen 5-3 dec. SV1
197: No. 26 Andy Smith def. No. 6 Isaac Trumble 3-2
285: No. 12 Wayne Trefan def. No. 23 Hunter Katka 3-1 SV1

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