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PHILADELPHIA – With seven competitors in the field, the Virginia wrestling team started action at the 2011 NCAA Championships Thursday morning at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Through the first session, three Cavaliers remain in the championship bracket in the double-elimination competition.

Live video coverage of the second session will be available at beginning at 7 p.m. Live stats also will be available at

Nick Nelson (141), Derek Valenti (149), Chris Henrich (174) advanced in the championship bracket.

Virginia picked up its first win of the day at 141 pounds as Nelson nabbed a 5-4 win in a tiebreaker over Army’s Casey Thome. Nelson moves on to wrestle No. 2-seed Michael Thorn of Minnesota tonight. Nelson upset the No. 2 seed in his last trip to NCAAs in 2009.

Nelson jumped out to a 3-0 lead before giving up a late escape point in the second period. Thome scored another escape point and then took Nelson down to take his first lead, 4-3. Nelson needed about 20 seconds to escape and force overtime. Nelson nearly gave up a takedown with about 15 seconds left in sudden victory time, but was able to stave off the attempt and force a stalemate call. In the tiebreaker, Nelson started down and escaped eight seconds into the first 30 seconds. He then rode Thome for the second 30 seconds to clinch the win.

Virginia again needed extra time to pick up a win at 149 as Valenti scored a takedown with a second left in sudden victory time to defeat Michigan State’s Dan Osterman, 3-1. He also will get the second seed in the next round, taking on No. 2 Frank Molinaro of Penn State. After a scoreless first period, Valenti took the down position in the second and escaped in 38 seconds. Valenti rode Osterman for the first minute of the third. After a restart following blood time, Osterman quickly was able to escape to tie the match. The match seemed to be heading to a tiebreaker before a last-second charge from Valenti, who was able to roll on top and gain control just before the final whistle.

Seeded fifth at 174 pounds, Henrich scored a takedown 30 seconds into his bout with Arizona State’s Eric Starks and was not challenged in a 10-2 major decision. He built up 4:30 in riding time, with 2:20 coming in the first period alone. Henrich will wrestle No. 12-seed Mike Benefiel of Oklahoma State tonight; the two faced off last year in the quarterfinals with Henrich pulling out a 5-4 win.

Four Cavaliers dropped their openers and will wrestle in the consolation bracket tonight. Snyder struggled with top-seeded Anthony Robles of Arizona State, who remained undefeated at 125 pounds as he recorded a technical fall over Snyder.

At 133 pounds Spisak dropped a 5-1 decision to Northwestern’s Levi Mele. The match was close throughout, but Mele scored a two-point nearfall with 10 seconds left to put the match out of reach.

At 184 pounds Fausey dropped an 8-4 decision to ninth-seeded Quentin Wright of Penn State. Fausey will take on Jason McCroskey of Chattanooga tonight in an elimination match. Fausey went in for a shot early in the first but Wright countered and got the first takedown 32 seconds into the period. Wright added another takedown and racked up 1:18 in riding time in the first; his lead did not drop below two the rest of the way

At heavyweight Danilkowicz fell 5-4 to Columbia’s Kevin Lester in a back-and-forth match. Lester scored a takedown 1:05 into the first period, and Danilkowicz scored an escape point 25 seconds later. Lester escaped two seconds into the second period to take a 3-1 lead. Danilkowicz got in on a leg and took Lester down with 10 seconds left in the second period but Lester reversed him right before the whistle to take the lead back, 5-3. Danilkowicz notched a quick escape point to start the third and got in on one leg in the final 10 seconds but could not quite gain control before the final whistle.

Virginia’s Thursday Results
125 pounds

First Round – No. 1 Anthony Robles (Arizona State) tech fall Matt Snyder, 17-1 (4:23)
Wrestlebacks First Round – Snyder vs. Shane Young (WVU)

First Round – Levi Mele (Northwestern) vs. Joe Spisak, 5-1
Wrestlebacks First Round – Spisak vs. Tyler Small (Kent State)

First Round – Nick Nelson dec. Casey Thome (Army), 5-4 (TB1)
Second Round – Nelson vs. No. 2 Michael Thorn (Minnesota)

First Round – Derek Valenti dec. Dan Osterman (Michigan State), 3-1 (SV)
Second Round – Valenti vs. No. 2 Frank Molinaro (Penn State)

First Round – No. 5 Chris Henrich major dec. Eric Starks (Arizona State), 10-2
Second Round – Henrich vs. No. 12 Mike Benefiel (Oklahoma State)

First Round – No. 9 Quentin Wright (Penn State) dec. Jon Fausey, 8-4
Second Round – Fausey vs. Jason McCroskey (Chattanooga)

First Round – Kevin Lester (Columbia) dec. Jack Danilkowicz, 5-4
Wrestlebacks First Round – Danilkowicz vs. Ben Apland (Michigan)

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