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Dec. 2, 2003

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia wrestling program and head coach Lenny Bernstein have announced UVa’s 2003 recruiting class. Bernstein and his staff signed a highly-touted, three-member recruiting class during the National Letter of Intent (NLI) early signing period. The trio of Virginia signees are Rocco Caponi, Nick Smith and Andrew DiPasquale.

Two of Virginia’s three recruits (Caponi and Smith) were ranked as a Top-10 wrestler for their respective weight classes. Caponi was listed as a Top-3 recruit by Wrestling USA, Amateur Wrestling News and WIN Magazine. Smith was listed as a Top-6 recruit by Intermat, Wrestling USA, WIN Magazine and Amateur Wrestling News.

The success UVa has experienced both on and off the mat in recent years has started to pay big dividends for the Cavaliers on the recruiting trail. Last year (2002-03), Virginia enjoyed one of its finest seasons ever as UVa went undefeated in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 4-0 and finished first in the ACC regular season standings. The Cavaliers also racked-up 12 victories (12-5) in dual match action by winning 12 of their last 14 dual matches, including eight consecutive wins to close out the season. Virginia was also aided by a $1.5 million gift to enhance its practice and competition facilities, enabling the Cavaliers to develop one of the top practice facilities in the country. As Virginia continues its rise as an ACC and national power, these kind of accomplishments and improvements have provided a solid foundation to attract the type of recruits signed by Bernstein and his staff in the early period.

“I believe this Fall recruiting class shows how serious we are in bringing in top talent to make this program into one of the best in the USA,” said Bernstein. “The coaching staff is still actively pursuing many other recruits for the Spring signing period. There are still some weight classes that we have identified as being a priority and other classes that we need to build depth. With more scholarship dollars, we have taken a step in the right direction and our coaching staff will not rest until we have achieved the goals which we have set out for our program.”

Here is a closer look at Virginia’s three signees:


Name			Hometown		High SchoolRocco Caponi		Akron, Ohio		St. Vincent - St. Mary'sNick Smith 		Boise, Idaho		Centennial H.S.Andrew DiPasquale	Bloomsburg, Pa.		Bloomsburg H.S.

Rocco Caponi

* Won the Junior National Championships in 2003 at 171-pounds.* Ranked as the #1 recruit in the nation by Wrestling USA.* Ranked #3 by Amateur Wrestling News.* Ranked #3 by WIN Magazine.* Projected to wrestle at 174 in college.

Bernstein on Caponi: “Rocco has really come on in the past year to go from being one of the best in the state to being one of the best in the USA. His height and frame will not keep him wrestling at 174-pounds for the entire four years with us. More than likely, we will see him grow to 184-pounds and possibly 197-pounds before his time at UVa is through. We are very excited to bring in Rocco. I believe his commitment, along with the other two commitments, will really help us sign some more top recruits in the Spring and beyond.”

Nick Smith

* Placed 7th at the Junior National Championships in 2003 at heavyweight.* Ranked as the #1 recruit in Idaho by Intermat.* Ranked as the #5 recruit in the nation by Wrestling USA.* Ranked #5 by WIN Magazine.* Ranked #6 by Amateur Wrestling News.

Bernstein on Smith: “After graduating two solid heavyweights in 2002 (Ryan Painter) and 2003 (Josh Etu), we are really excited to bring in a HWT who we believe will be a force during the next five years. Nick is athletic, strong, and knows how to wrestle. Some heavyweights push around their weight and wait for mistakes. Nick offers a lot more offense.”

Andrew DiPasquale

* Placed third in the Pennsylvania State Championships (145 lbs) as a junior.* Projected to wrestle at 149-pounds in college.

Bernstein on DiPasquale: “Drew has been overlooked by a lot of colleges because he has only placed one time thus far in the state championships. We believe his quickness and competitiveness will translate to a steep learning curve in college and UVA will benefit tremendously.”

— UVa —

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