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Dec. 7, 2006

The weekend was bittersweet for the Virginia wrestlers as many of the wrestlers fell just short of beating the nation’s elite. Freshman Ross Gitomer gave up a late takedown to lose a close match to 12th ranked Pat Castillo of Northern Illinois. Gitomer scored off a double leg to even the match up but missed a single leg finish in the third period to take the victory. Castillo went on to place in the tournament.

At 133 pounds. Eric Albright started the tournament by topping Lou Ruggilero from Hofstra who eventually beat 13th ranked Zach Tanelli from Wisconsin 10-2. Albright was then matched against No. 8 ranked Mark Budd from Buffalo, who recently won the Mat Town Open. Although Albright beat him this summer at the Northeast Regional, he lost a 3-2 battle after giving up a takedown on one of the best scrambles of the day. Budd defeated No. 2 ranked All-American Tyler McCormick in the next round. After beating two more opponents, he faced 10th ranked Mike Rowe from Nebraska to make the placing round. After failing to finish the only three shots of the match by either wrestlers, Albright took one more shot and had his opponents leg in the air as the period ended losing 3-2. Rowe went on to place seventh at the tournament while Budd placed sixth.

At 141 pounds, Freshmen Kellon Balum faced UNC Greensboro’s Chris Bencivenga who just upset the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the nation Brandon Radar. Balum had four takedowns in the match, but was forced to fight back from a five-point move early in the match. After tying the match at eight a piece, Balum lost on a scramble on the edge of the mat making the score 10-8. Bencivenga went on to defeat All-American Mike Keefe from UTC and placed sixth.

Drew DiPasquale placed eighth at 149 pounds and defeated Mat Town Open Champion Ryan Needle, 9-4 on his run. He came close to defeating 11th ranked Aaron Martin from UTC and 17th ranked Lance Palmer in the consolation placing rounds. After scoring a late takedown on highly touted Lance Palmer of Ohio State to put DiPasqaule within one point, he was forced to try a cement mixer with short time remaining. DiPasquale also defeated Hofstra’s Parziale, whose team just defeated No. 1 ranked Minnesota last week.

Rocco Caponi’s eighth place finish was his second time placing at this tournament. Caponi was beating Indiana’s Marc Bennett 7-3 when he was caught in a headlock with 30 seconds remaining in the match. This would have put Caponi in the top six at his weight, also giving him the opportunity to wrestle back for third. Caponi had a technical fall and a pin in the tournament before placing eighth.

Heavyweight Scott Smith beat opponents from Brown and Buffalo before battling with two top 20 foes. He lost two close battles to Pittsburgh’s Zach Sheaffer 4-1 and Cornell’s Zach Hammond 5-2 after losing a last minute scramble that would have secured a victory.

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