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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. The Virginia wrestling team had a tremendous weekend at the University Freestyle National Championships in Akron, Ohio, last weekend, leading the field with four finalists and six All-Americans. Virginia had 18 wrestlers compete in the national tournament and more finalists than any other school.

Brent Jones (Jr., Burke, Va.) won the 96 KG/211-pound weight class with six straight victories, including wins over Darren Burns (NCAA Round of 12), Jared Platt (Penn State) and Mike Tamillow (NCAA All-American/Northwestern). In the championship match, Jones secured the title with a pin in 21 seconds over Eddie Phillips (Michigan). It marks Jones’ second national title in freestyle after winning the FILA Junior National Championship two years ago. This win secures him a spot at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in June at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Freshmen Michael Chaires (Fr., Scotia, N.Y.) (74 KG/163 lbs) and ACC Freshman of the Year Chris Henrich (Fr., Lansdale, Pa.) (79 KG/174 lbs) earned their spots in the championship match after winning five straight matches apiece. Chaires defeated Joey Wilson, Zach Shanaman (Sunkist Wrestling Club), Jake Kerr (Iowa) and Kyle Bounds (Oregon) before losing to NCAA champion Keith Gavin in the championship match.

Henrich defeated Brad Nielson (Maryland), Dave Rella (Penn State), Steve Crozier (Air Force) and Ross Taplin (Maverick WC) to reach the finals. He was defeated by Mike Galante (NYAC) in the championship match. Eric Albright (Jr., York, Pa.) also was a runner-up at 63 KG/138.75 lbs. Chaires and Henrich were two of only three true freshmen to reach the finals of the University National Championships.

Also placing for the University of Virginia were Dan Gonsor (Fr., Cleveland, Ohio) and Ross Gitomer (So., Flemington, N.J.). Gonsor placed fourth at 70 KG/154.25 lbs with a record of 6-2 in the 68-man bracket. He defeated Tyler Riccio (Bison WC), Joey Kotowski (Illinois) and Jordan Nettuno (Boiler Elite) before losing to eventual champion Tyler Safratowich (Minnesota Storm).

Gitomer (55 KG/121 lbs) won three straight matches against Anthony Easter (Citadel), Matt Hall (Rockhead WC) and Dylan Dabolt (Buffalo) before losing to Minnesota’s Zach Sanders in the semifinals. His sixth-place finish marks the second time he has placed as a freestyle All-American after placing at the FILA Junior National Championships two summers ago.

By virtue of their top-six finishes, Jones, Henrich, Chaires, Albright, Gonsor and Gitomer all have qualified for the University World Team Trials, which takes place May 23-24 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Four other Cavaliers were within one match of achieving All-America status Shawn Harris (Fr., Cleveland, Ohio) and Kellon Balum (So., Herndon, Pa.) at 66 KG/145.5 lbs, Mike Sewell (Jr., Bothell, Wash.) at 79 KG/174 lbs and Rocco Caponi (Jr., Uniontown, Ohio) at 96 KG/211.5 lbs.

Nine Cavaliers will travel to Las Vegas next weekend to compete in the 2008 FILA Junior National Championships and U.S. Senior National Championships.

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