2009-10 Wrestling Season Outlook
The Virginia wrestling team enters the 2009-10 season with unparalleled expectations. Seven NCAA qualifiers return, including All-American Chris Henrich and ACC champions Ross Gitomer and Brent Jones. With a Top-10 recruiting class entering the program as well, fourth-year head coach Steve Garland and his Cavaliers will boast one of the deepest lineups in program history.
Here is a class-by-class breakdown of the 2009-10 Cavaliers:
UVa has plenty of depth at 125 pounds this season. 2008 ACC champion Ross Gitomer is back in the mix suffering a knee injury at the 2008 Southern Scuffle. Gitomer, ranked 17th nationally in the preseason rankings, went 37-13 in 2007-08 and was off to a strong 12-5 start in 2008-09 before going down with the injury.
Matt Snyder, a redshirt freshman transfer from Bloomsburg University, went 25-12 last year while competing in open events. UVa also has incoming freshman Gabe Gomez at 125, but the former Colorado state champion likely will redshirt this season.
2009 NCAA qualifier Matt Bonson returns after going 17-9 last season with eight falls. A consummate scrambler, Bonson went 12-5 in duals and placed fourth at the 2009 ACC Championships before earning a wild card to the NCAA tournament.
Bonson will be joined by two promising freshmen Matt Cubillos, of Guilderland, N.Y. and Andrew Williams of Tabb, Va. Cubillos is a two-time New York state placewinner, while Williams is a four-time Virginia state champion.
Nick Nelson, a 2009 NCAA qualifier who is ranked as high as 10th nationally in the preseason, returns at 141 pounds. Last year, Nelson finished in the top 12 at the NCAA Championships and ended the campaign with a 25-12 record and a 53-23 career mark. He recorded one of the top wins in school history last year when he upset No. 2 seed Zach Tanelli of Wisconsin in the NCAA Championships.
He will be pushed for a starting position by sophomore Derek Valenti, who logged a 24-10 record as a true freshman, and incoming freshman Nicky Gordon, who was a three-time National Prep finalist.
UVa has perhaps its most depth at 149 pounds, with three key returnees and a top incoming freshman. 2008-09 starter Kellon Balum, a senior who placed third in the 2009 ACC Championships and competed in the NCAA Championships, returns after going 11-13 last year. After a great offseason in which he packed on a lot of muscle, Balum will be in the hunt to start again.
Sophomore Shawn Harris redshirted the 2008-09 season after going 21-14 in ’08-09 and finished third at the ACC. Redshirt sophomore Dave Ebbott will contribute as well after going 26-19 while competing in spot starts and unattached during his first two years.
Highly-touted freshman Zach Clemente out of Troy, N.Y., is a two-time New York State high school champion who placed second in the 2009 NHSCA Tournament. He will be an impact wrestler in the near future but may redshirt because of the Cavaliers’ depth at this weight.
All four wrestlers have impressed the coaches in preseason workouts.
Dan Gonsor, after redshirting in 2008-09, returns and figures to get the first crack at a starting position. Gonsor went 11-3 while competing unattached last year. Senior Pat Riley, an off-and-on starter during his career, also will factor in the mix. Dan Clarke, a redshirt freshman, will push for time as well; he is a former high school All-American.
Jedd Moore, a 2009 NCAA qualifier, started at 157 pounds as a true freshman, will aim to redshirt this season after foot surgery in the summer. Moore, 30-15 last year, placed third at the 2009 ACC Championships and then went 1-2 at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
Coming off a redshirt in 2008-09, Michael Chaires returns to action this year. The former New York state high school champ posted a 32-9 record as a true freshman. He notched a runner-up finish at the Southern Scuffle and a third-place medal at the 2008 ACC Tournament and was ranked as high as 12th in the country.
NCAA All-American Chris Henrich returns after a fantastic 2009 season, where he placed seventh at the NCAA Championships. Henrich went 40-3 last year and his two-year college career mark is 66-13.
Incoming freshman Stephen Doty, the reigning Missouri state champion, is capable of stepping into the starting lineup and winning bouts right out of the chute.
After the graduation of three-time ACC champion Rocco Caponi, look for either redshirt freshman Mike Salopek or incoming freshman Jon Fausey to take the reins at 184 pounds. Salopek, competing unattached, went 14-5 and was the Kent State Open champion and runner-up at the Cleveland State and Wilkes opens.
Fausey was the 2009 Pennsylvania Class-AA champion at 189 pounds and also scored a big win for Pennsylvania in its dual-meet victory over the USA Team in the March 2009 Dapper Dan All-Star event.
Brent Jones, a three-year starter at this weight, returns with big expectations. Jones was named the ACC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler after defeating No. 18 Dennis Drury of UNC and then upsetting Maryland All-American Hudson Taylor in the championship bout after headlocking and then pinning Taylor. He then competed in the 2009 NCAA Tournament and finished the year with a 29-8 record. He placed in the top six at the Senior Level World Team Trials this summer at 211 pounds.
After an injury-plagued 2008-09 season, Jack Danilkowicz is healthy and expected to lead UVa’s heavyweights this season. Danilkowicz was the starter at this weight in 2007-08 season, placed third at the ACC Championships and won 15 matches that year. He was injured midway through the ’08-09 campaign and missed out on crucial dual meets and the ACC Championships.
He is joined by senior Calvin Cardillo and sophomore Ebe Nelson. Cardillo won nine bouts last season, and Nelson grabbed 11 wins during his freshman year.