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Nov. 1, 2012

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Virginia opens its highly anticipated 2012-13 season this weekend when it entertains Anderson, Ohio and Chattanooga in a quad meet beginning at 9 a.m. at Memorial Gymnasium. Admission is free.

Ranked as high as 14th nationally in the preseason prognostications, the Cavaliers boast experience and depth throughout the lineup this year. Eight NCAA qualifiers line the Virginia roster as the Cavaliers have big expectations for the upcoming campaign, both at the team and individual levels.

Head coach Steve Garland ratcheted the competition level up a notch this year for the UVa schedule to challenge his squad before the postseason. In addition to the ACC schedule, the Cavaliers have a dual against national power Iowa as well as challenging trips to the NWCA National Duals, Virginia Duals, Las Vegas Invitational and Southern Scuffle.

Following is a breakdown by weight class for the 2012-13 Cavaliers.

Fifth-year senior Matt Snyder returns after winning an ACC championship and making his second straight trip to the NCAA Championships last year. Ranked as high as eighth nationally in the preseason, Snyder is aiming to reach the podium at NCAAs for the first time after coming within a whisker of All-America honors each of the last two years.

UVa also has a trio of impressive freshmen at this weight. George DiCamillo was the No. 1-ranked high school 120-pounder last year and also was a two-time Ohio state champion. Virginia Beach native Will Mason was a national prep champion, and Nick Herrmann was a three-time NHSCA High School National Champion, four-time All-American and four-time Texas state champion

2011 NCAA Qualifier Joe Spisak returns at this weight class after redshirting in 2011-12. Spisak was the ACC runner-up in 2011 and defeated a pair of top-25 wrestlers. He is ranked No. 18 in the preseason poll.

Sophomore Joseph Martinez also is back after winning 19 matches last year, including a Mat Town tournament championship. The plan for him at this point is probably to redshirt this year.

Five-time Tennessee state champion Zach Watson is in his first year at UVa and provides depth at this weight.

2012 NCAA qualifier Matt Nelson moves up a weight class this year to fill in the footsteps of his brother, Nick, who graduated. Matt went 2-2 at NCAAs last year and was ranked in the top 20 nationally most of the season. Ranked as high as 17th in the preseason polls, he will miss some time early this year with an injury.

“He is as mentally tough a kid in competition as it gets so we think that the weight shift won’t hurt him a bit,” Garland said. “As a matter of fact, with him not having to worry about cutting so much weight, we think he can do extremely well.”

There is plenty of young depth behind Nelson. Redshirt freshman David Wesleywon 16 matches as a redshirt last season and comes into his second year with lofty goals after dropping down a weight class. Fellow redshirt freshmen Mason Popham and Jimmy Nehls will factor in here, as will freshman Justin VanHoose.

2011 All-American Derek Valenti returns at this weight class after a redshirt year. He is ranked as high as eighth nationally in the preseason rankings.

“His goal is an NCAA title this year, but he’ll have his work cut out for him,” Garland said. “His weight class is one of the toughest and deepest in the nation, but that just seems to make him better. Derek’s gift is being able to elevate his game when things matter most.”

Freshman Chris Yankowich has pushed Valenti in the preseason and will provide depth at this class. Yankowich won a National Prep Championship during his time at Germantown Academy (Pa.).

2012 NCAA qualifier Gus Sako will look to redshirt this year after a standout sophomore season.

2009 NCAA Qualifier Jedd Moore anchors the Cavaliers’ spot at 157. Now in his fifth year at UVa, Moore had a solid 2011-12 campaign, including a big win over eventual ACC champion Kyle John of Maryland.

“He has all the potential to be on the podium (at NCAAs) this year and he has very high goals for himself,” Garland said. “Jedd is at his best when he is constantly attacking and looking to wear his opponent out. He trained internationally this summer and learned a lot. It will be really neat to see him apply what he learned this offseason.”

Redshirt freshman Blaise Butler had a strong redshirt season, posting 20 victories, and has challenged Moore throughout the preseason. Redshirt sophomore Tanner Hirstine and freshman Dustin Roemer provide more depth at this deep class.

2012 NCAA qualifier in Nick Sulzer returns at 165 and is ranked as high as eighth nationally in the preseason. He went 2-2 at NCAAs last year during his redshirt freshman season.

“It is just crazy to see what he can do on the mat,” Garland said. “He works his tail off, is mentally tough, extremely gifted and wants to win as bad as anyone I’ve ever coached. The term “competitive” is thrown around a lot in our society, but this kid truly exemplifies what it means to hate to lose.

Freshman M.J. Roberson hails from Richmond and has been a solid contributor in the preseason. He gives the Cavaliers added depth at this weight.

Jon Fausey drops down a weight class this year after winning the ACC championship at 184 last year. Fausey went 3-2 at NCAAs and missed out on All-America honors by just two points. He is ranked eighth nationally in the preseason by InterMat.

“He was so close and that has fueled him all summer,” Garland said. “He worked with our nutritionist for the last five months, has leaned out and is feeling great about the weight cut. He took his time, did it the right way and should be fine now competing at this lower weight class.”

Vinny Waldhauser had a great freshman campaign, winning 22 matches. He plans to redshirt this year, as does junior Billy Coggins.

First year Dusty Floyd also will be competing at this weight class. Floyd is a two-time state placewinner who has been improving rapidly and can contribute right away.

Redshirt junior Stephen Doty and redshirt freshman Zach Nye had battled throughout the preseason for the starting position at 184. Coming off a redshirt season, Doty has won at least 20 matches in each of the last two seasons.

Nye had a great redshirt freshman season a year ago, highlighted by a technical fall victory over former ACC champion Zach Bennett at the Southern Scuffle, and will drop down to this weight from 197.

Sophomore Nick Kidd saw time in the starting lineup last season and also will factor in at this weight. He is very big for the weight class as well and provides another tough matchup.

Freshman James Suvak was a two-time Ohio state placewinner and a high school All-American that has big upside and adds more depth to an already stacked class.

NCAA qualifier Mike Salopek returns for his fifth year after an injury-riddled 2011-12 season. Salopek was the 2010 ACC Champion and has battled injuries throughout his career, but his enters his final season healthy and aiming for another big year.

Redshirt freshman Patrick Gillen comes down a weight class after a strong redshirt season at heavyweight, while freshman Cameron King was a two-time North Carolina state champion and a high school All American who will add depth here.

Redshirt sophomore Derek Papagianopoulos and sophomore Ethan Hayes both return at heavyweight again this year. Papagianopoulos was having a great season last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury just before the ACC tournament.

“It was devastating for Derek but in a time of great trial, his true character came out,” Garland said. “Instead of fussing and pouting about his season coming to an abrupt close, he immediately starting pumping up Ethan Hayes for a run at an ACC title.”

Hayes won 17 as a true freshman and earned a win over nationally ranked Kevin Lester of Columbia in his second college tournament.

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