Henrich Takes Sixth, Valenti Eighth at NCAA Championships
PHILADELPHIA – Chris Henrich (Sr., Lansdale, Pa.) took sixth place at 174 pounds and Derek Valenti (Jr., Newton, N.J.) notched eighth place at 149 pounds Saturday in the medal round of the NCAA Wrestling Championships Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Virginia concluded the championships with 24 team points and will finish in a 23rd-place tie with Edinboro. Penn State already has clinched the team championship heading into the final session this evening.
The Cavaliers finished with two All-Americans in a season for the first time since 2004 and the fourth time in program history. The duo’s All-America honors are the 12th and 13th in UVa history.
“We took some big steps forward this weekend with three guys in the All-American round, but I am also very sad to see the greatest wrestler in program history wrestle his last match,” Virginia head coach Steve Garland said. “I am confident Chris will be extremely successful in his life after college, but I will miss him dearly and so will our fans.
“Derek Valenti placing here is something I will always cherish. I am excited to see what he will do next season.”
Henrich and Valenti each suffered narrow defeats Saturday. Seeded fifth at 174 pounds, Henrich dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 4 seed Colby Covington of Oregon State in the fifth-place bout; earlier in the day he fell 7-2 to No. 2 seed Ed Ruth of Penn State. Valenti rallied before losing a 5-4 decision to No. 3 seed Kevin LeValley of Bucknell in the seventh-place match.
After a scoreless first period, Covington took the bottom position to start the second stanza. Henrich rode Covington for the first 1:41 in the second period before Covington escaped. Covington then went in for the key takedown at the 1:04 mark of the second and rode Henrich the rest of the period. Henrich took the bottom position to start the third period and needed 14 seconds to escape. From there, Covington defended well and did not allow Henrich to get a good shot in as he finished off the 3-2 win while avenging a 7-5 loss to Henrich on Friday in the quarterfinals.
In his first consolation match Saturday, Henrich started fast in the first period, going in on two shots but he couldn’t finish as Ruth defended well. Ruth scored the match’s first points with 40 seconds left on a takedown and rode Henrich the remainder of the period. Henrich chose the bottom position in the second and got out with 35 seconds left, facing a 2:04 riding time deficit. Ruth chose bottom to start third and was able to reverse Henrich to push his lead to 4-1. Henrich escaped with 42 seconds left, but Ruth added a late takedown and piled up 3:03 in riding time to win, 7-2.
Henrich finishes his career as the most decorated wrestler in Virginia history. He ends the 2011 season with a 35-5 record and concludes his career with a 136-21 record. The all-time wins leader at Virginia, Henrich is the program’s only three-time All-American. The last seven losses of his career all came to All-Americans; his three losses at NCAAs were to the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 seeds.
Valenti (27-15) saw his frantic last-second rally fall just short against LeValley. Trailing 3-0 with less than 15 seconds remaining and the riding time point already secured by LeValley, Valenti scored on a reverse. He quickly cut LeValley loose and attacked again, scoring a takedown just before the final whistle to tie the match at four. The riding time point proved to be the difference as LeValley finished with 1:54 of advantage time to gain the bonus point and earn the 5-4 win.
Neither wrestler scored in the first period, as LeValley went in a pair of early shots but Valenti was able to defend well to fend him off and force stalemates. LeValley chose the bottom position in the second period and escaped in 12 seconds. Valenti took the down position to start third period, and LeValley was able to turn him onto his back to pick up a two-point nearfall and take the 3-0 lead..
Valenti made a remarkable turnaround in becoming Virginia’s 13th All-American. He started his season 12-11 before rattling off 15 wins in his last 19 matches to finish 27-15. Valenti was one of just seven unseeded wrestlers to earn All-America honors at the championships this year. He suffered three losses at NCAAs – to the Nos. 2, 3 and 5 seeds, with all coming by three points or fewer.
Virginia’s 2011 NCAA Championships Results
125 pounds – Matt Snyder (3-2)
First Round – No. 1 Anthony Robles (Arizona State) tech fall Matt Snyder, 17-1 (4:23)
Wrestlebacks First Round – Snyder dec. Shane Young (WVU), 5-4
Wrestlebacks Second Round – Snyder major dec. No. 11 Frank Perrelli (Cornell), 13-4
Wrestlebacks Third Round – Snyder dec. Joe Langel (Rutgers), 13-8
Wrestlebacks Fourth Round – No. 5 Zach Sanders (Minnesota) dec. Snyder, 6-5
133 – Joe Spisak (0-2)
First Round – Levi Mele (Northwestern) vs. Joe Spisak, 5-1
Wrestlebacks First Round – Tyler Small (Kent State) dec. Spisak, 5-4
141 – Nick Nelson (1-2)
First Round – Nick Nelson dec. Casey Thome (Army), 5-4 (TB1)
Second Round – No. 2 Michael Thorn (Minnesota) dec. Nelson, 6-1
Wrestlebacks Second Round – Stephen Dutton (Lehigh) dec. Nelson, 11-8
149 – Derek Valenti (4-3) – ALL-AMERICAN, Eighth Place
First Round – Derek Valenti dec. Dan Osterman (Michigan State), 3-1 (SV)
Second Round – No. 2 Frank Molinaro (Penn State) dec. Valenti, 6-3
Wrestlebacks Second Round – Valenti dec. No. 12 Desi Green (Buffalo), 4-3
Wrestlebacks Third Round – Valenti dec. Donnie Corby (Central Michigan), 6-2
Wrestlebacks Fourth Round – Valenti dec. Eric Grajales (Michigan), 9-7
Consolation Quarters – No. 5 Jamal Parks (Oklahoma State) dec. Valenti, 3-1
Seventh-Place Match – No. 3 Kevin LeValley (Bucknell) dec. Valenti, 5-4
174 – Chris Henrich (4-3) – ALL-AMERICAN, Sixth Place
First Round – No. 5 Chris Henrich major dec. Eric Starks (Arizona State), 10-2
Second Round – Henrich dec. No. 12 Mike Benefiel (Oklahoma State), 6-5
Quarterfinals – Henrich dec. No. 4 Colby Covington (Oregon State), 7-5
Semifinals – No. 1 Jon Reader (Iowa State) dec. Henrich, 4-3
Consolation Semis – No. 2 Ed Ruth (Penn State) dec. Henrich, 7-2
Fifth-Place Match – No. 4 Colby Covington (Oregon State) dec. Henrich, 3-2
184 – Jon Fausey (2-2)
First Round – No. 9 Quentin Wright (Penn State) dec. Jon Fausey, 8-4
Wrestlebacks First Round – Fausey dec. Jason McCroskey (Chattanooga), 8-2
Wrestlebacks Second Round – Fausey major dec. Jake Meredith (Arizona State), 8-0
Wrestlebacks Third Round – No. 6 Ryan Loder (Northern Iowa) dec. Fausey, 7-3
285 – Jack Danilkowicz (0-2)
First Round – Kevin Lester (Columbia) dec. Jack Danilkowicz, 5-4
Wrestlebacks First Round – Ben Apland (Michigan) dec. Danilkowicz, 4-2
On becoming an All-American
“Right now it’s tough to get the full feeling of it coming off a loss. In the next few hours it will settle in, maybe during the Parade of Champions. It will definitely feel great. It keeps me hungry for more now that I’ve gotten a taste of it.”
On his match with LeValley
“The biggest thing was my bottom was a little off today, and I got turned which I haven’t done all tournament. I take pride in being the best kid in the country top and bottom, to be riding kids out or at least holding them down for awhile. I didn’t even do that well this tournament, which is something to work on and look forward to the next time I’m at nationals, riding everyone out, because I know that’s my best spot. To do what I did and not being my best at my best position, it gives me a lot of confidence going into next season.”
On the team’s finish and getting two All-Americans
“It’s another thing that’s bittersweet because last year we finished 15th and we had one All-American, and this year we have two All-Americans for the first time since 2004 which is a great step for the program. When I came off the mat, I had a bunch of our first-years run up to me and say ‘I saw you do it and watching you do it just makes me want it that much more.’ It’s something that everyone around us can feed off of in working for that goal. It’s something Chris set up, and it’s almost like a passing of the guard where Chris is leaving and I try to step in to fill his shoes. Chris has the toughest shoes to fill of anyone on the team, but I think we’re going to have some guys step up over the next couple of years and we can get two, three, four, five All-Americans in one year. I don’t see why we can’t.”
On the end of his wrestling career
“It’s a little bittersweet. It’s depressing that it’s over – it’s been such a huge part of my life. I couldn’t really anticipate the feeling until right now. It’s a tough way to go out, and it’s not how I saw it happening, but I couldn’t put it together today and that’s how it turned it.”
Has it registered that you are a three-time All-American
“No, not really. I’m proud of that, but right now it just seems like a couple words thrown together. It’s something that I can hold my head high for and that I know I will appreciate in the future.”
On his day Saturday
“I just couldn’t get my stuff going today. My heart was in it and I wanted it a lot, but it’s been a long weekend and the margin for error is so small. I wasn’t making the right moves and I wasn’t perfect enough.”