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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia wrestling team, ranked 16th nationally, opens ACC competition this weekend with a pair of home matches at Memorial Gymnasium. Virginia wrestles North Carolina at 5 p.m. Friday, then welcomes No. 14 Virginia Tech for a 1 p.m. dual Saturday. Admission is free to all UVa wrestling home matches. Free parking is available in the Culbreth Road Garage.

Friday, Virginia (12-3, 0-0) will recognize its nine All-Americans at intermission. Saturday, there will be a tailgate for all fans prior to the match (while supplies last), and the first 500 fans will receive a UVa t-shirt. There also will be a free youth clinic prior to the match from 11 a.m. to noon.

Virginia enters the weekend with its highest national ranking in program history, a No. 16 standing in the latest InterMat poll. UVa had been ranked No. 18 in the last four polls.

The Hokies (13-3, 1-0 ACC) will be wrestling in Charlottesville for the first time since 2006 and are the highest-ranked opponent to compete in Mem Gym since No. 2 Iowa State on Feb. 18, 2007.

There figures to be plenty of intriguing individual matchups this weekend, as UVa has four wrestlers ranked in the latest national rankings, while Virginia Tech also has four and North Carolina two.

UVa 157-pounder Danny Gonsor (R-So., Cleveland, Ohio), ranked 15th nationally this week by InterMat, has a pair of top-10 foes waiting – No. 6 Thomas Scotton of UNC and No. 4 Jesse Dong of Virginia Tech. At 197 pounds, 20th-ranked Brent Jones (Sr., Burke, Va.) is scheduled to face 12th-ranked Dennis Drury of North Carolina on Friday. With six pins this year, Jones is the all-time Virginia pins leader with 40.

At 184 pounds, Mike Salopek (R-Fr., North Huntingdon, Pa.), ranked 20th by W.I.N., is scheduled to have the rubber match with No. 20 Tommy Spellman of Virginia Tech. The two have met twice this year, with both winning once in narrow decisions. Salopek won, 2-0, at the Southern Scuffle, but Spellman prevailed a week later, 2-1, with a late takedown at the Virginia Duals.

At 125 pounds, Ross Gitomer (Sr., Flemington, N.J.) is slated to match up with 15th-ranked Jarrod Garnett of Virginia Tech Saturday. The two have wrestled twice this season, with Garnett winning each time by a point. At 141, Derek Valenti (So., Newton, N.J.) has a tough match with No. 10 Chris Diaz of Virginia Tech on tap for Saturday. Valenti is 17-5 this season.

Reigning All-American Chris Henrich (Jr., Lansdale, Pa.), currently ranked fourth nationally at 174 pounds, looks to improve on his 21-2 record as he is scheduled to compete against UNC’s Thomas Ferguson and Virginia Tech’s John Dickson. Henrich has won all six of his matches since the start of the new year.

Virginia comes off a successful week where the Cavaliers picked up road wins over Appalachian State (28-12) and Penn (28-9). UVa won seven of the 10 weight classes in each match. North Carolina (3-5-1, 1-2) last competed Saturday, dropping a 25-16 decision at Virginia Tech. In addition to that match, the Hokies also picked up wins over Gardner-Webb (34-15) and UNC Greensboro (29-15) last weekend.

Virginia lost 23-9 at North Carolina last season in the teams’ last meeting. The Cavaliers and Hokies already have squared off once in dual action this year, with Virginia Tech nabbing a 21-18 win at the Virginia Duals on Jan. 9. UVa has lost three straight to the Hokies since winning at Tech in 2007.

UVa is on the road next weekend, traveling to Rutgers and Princeton for duals on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

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