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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia wrestling team, ranked No. 18 nationally this week by InterMat, begins its 2010 slate of dual matches on Friday as it competes in the Virginia Duals at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va. UVa opens the double-elimination tournament at 11 a.m. Friday against Michigan. The Cavaliers then will face either No. 10 Oklahoma or Bucknell at 3 p.m. The competition continues through Saturday.

USA Wrestling and will be webcasting the event at Updated brackets also can be located on the Virginia Duals website. The Virginia Duals is the largest college and high school tournament in the world and features 10 continuous mats of wrestling action throughout the competition.

The Virginia Duals features a 16-team field that includes nine squads that are ranked in the Top 25 – Oklahoma State (4), Oklahoma (10), Lehigh (11), Penn State (14), Virginia (18), Kent State (19), Edinboro (20), Old Dominion (23) and Virginia Tech (24). Bucknell, Clarion, Drexel, Liberty, Michigan, Ohio and UC-Davis also will compete in the tournament. Individually, the field is loaded as well, with at least four ranked wrestlers at each weight class.

Virginia has started the season strong with a 7-1 dual record. The Cavaliers boast four nationally-ranked wrestlers, led by fourth-ranked Chris Henrich (Jr., Lansdale, Pa.) at 174 pounds. Henrich has a 15-2 record this year. Brent Jones (R-Sr., Burke, Va.) is ranked No. 16 by InterMat at 197 pounds, while Danny Gonsor (R-So., Cleveland, Ohio) stands No. 18 at 157. Following a third-place showing last week at the Southern Scuffle, Mike Salopek (R-Fr., North Huntingdon, Pa.) moved into the national rankings this week at No. 19 at 184 pounds.

Michigan is 2-4 in dual matches this season, with two of their losses coming to ranked teams – Lehigh and Kent State. The Wolverines are led by ninth-ranked Anthony Biondo at 197 pounds. Justin Zeerup was ranked No. 20 at 174 pounds before dropping out of the rankings this week. The teams met for the first time in 2007, with the Wolverines scoring a 25-10 victory.

Oklahoma (5-0-1) defeated No. 16 Cal Poly, 27-13, Sunday to start the New Year. The Sooners have wrestlers ranked among the Top 20 at eight of the 10 weight classes, with Eric Lapotsky topping the team with a No. 3 ranking at 197 pounds. UVa and Oklahoma have met once previously, with the Sooners notching a 31-9 win on Jan. 3, 1998 in Dallas.

Bucknell (5-3) has four ranked wrestlers, highlighted by No. 7 Kevin LeValley at 149 and No. 10 Andy Rendos at 165. The Cavaliers and Bison wrestled at the ACC Challenge earlier this season, with UVa claiming a 20-13 win. The Cavaliers own a 6-2 edge in the all-time series.

UVa comes off a fifth-place showing last week at the Southern Scuffle in Greensboro, N.C. Eight Cavaliers placed in the event, led by Henrich with a runner-up finish at 174 pounds. He dropped a 6-1 decision to top-ranked Mack Lewnes of Cornell in the championship match.

Salopek notched a third-place finish at 184, blanking Virginia Tech’s Tommy Spellman, 2-0, in the consolation championship. Jon Fausey (Fr., Dalmatia, Pa.), competing unattached, scored an eighth-place finish at 184.

Nick Nelson (Jr., Pittsburgh, Pa.), competing unattached for UVa, scored a third-place finish at 141 pounds. He finished with seven wins in the tournament, including a 3-2 decision over Ohio’s Germane Lindsay to claim the third-place match.

Derek Valenti (So., Newton, N.J.) took seventh at 141, while Gonsor nabbed fifth place at 157 pounds. Ross Gitomer (Sr., Flemington, N.J.) placed sixth at 125 pounds and had UVa’s biggest win of the tournament with a 3-2 upset of No. 5 Eric Morrill of Edinboro on Tuesday. Matt Snyder (R-Fr., Lewistown, Pa.) also took seventh place at 125.

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