UVa Wrestlers Pull off Stunning ACC Title Win
March 8, 2015
Pittsburgh, Pa. – The 18th-ranked Virginia wrestling team pulled off a stunning upset by winning the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference wrestling championship by a comfortable margin at Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center. The Cavaliers entered the competition seeded fourth with an ACC dual meet record of 2-3.
UVa managed to get six wrestlers to the championship finals and all 10 members of the team finished no lower than fourth place. The Cavaliers won two weight class titles and finished with 85.5 points. Pitt was second with 71 points, Virginia Tech scored 59.5 points, Duke was fourth with 44 points, UNC was fifth with 42 points and NC State was sixth with 31 points. The 10th-ranked Hokies, the defending ACC champions, cruised through the regular season, posting a perfect 5-0 dual-meet record.
It was the fifth ACC title in the program’s history. UVa also claimed championships in 1974, 1975, 1977 and 2010. It was the second title for ninth-year coach Steve Garland.
“I don’t think anyone predicted this was going to happen,” Garland said. “It was a heck of an upset win and we are really excited about being a part of something that we think is going to be a good story about Virginia Wrestling for years to come. The biggest thing I’m proud of is we had all 10 guys contribute and all 10 guys placed in the top four. It’s extremely difficult to do that with how tough this conference is, and that’s what won us this tournament for us.”
Highlighting the championship were individual titles by redshirt sophomore George DiCamillo (Highland Heights, Ohio) at 133 pounds and senior Nick Sulzer (Cleveland, Ohio) at 165 pounds. Both championships were the second for each wrestler.
DiCamillo won the 2013 ACC title at 133 and missed last season due to an injury. Sulzer repeated as the champ at 165. Sulzer, a two-time All-American who is ranked number-four nationally, became the 15th Cavalier to win back-to-back titles during their career.
“I think it’s great, but the even better part is the team title,” Sulzer said. “We finally got the ACC title that has eluded us the last few years. It puts the cherry on top.
“I think sometimes when we wrestle as the underdog, we wrestle better and when we are the favorites, we are a little too nonchalant or relaxed. I think the fact that we weren’t picked to win it played into our favor.”
Also advancing to the championship matches were junior Nick Herrmann (Amarillo, Texas) at 125, redshirt freshman Andrew Atkinson (Lynchburg, Va.) at 157, junior Blaise Butler (Belvidere, Ill) at 174 and junior Zach Nye (Enola, Pa.) at 197.
All six of the wrestlers who reached the finals received automatic berths to the NCAA Championships. Also earning an NCAA bid was senior Joe Spisak (Boiling Spring, Pa.) at 141. He placed third overall. Sulzer and Spisak become the seventh and eighth Virginia wrestlers to qualify for the NCAA Championships four times.
“Sending seven out of 10 going to the show is a big deal,” Garland said. “I’m hoping to get TJ Miller through and maybe a couple more guys, but definitely TJ has a shot with beating three highly-nationally ranked guys. But that number, if you had said that a couple months ago when we were in the deepest part of the valley, that we were going to scoot seven through, I would say you’re crazy. So I feel really blessed and really thankful.”
The Cavaliers had a trio of competitors place fourth in their respective weight class. TJ Miller (Medford, N.J.) at 149, Tyler Askey (Newnan, Ga.) at 184 and Patrick Gillen (Shelton, Conn.) at 285 all lost in their third-place matches.
“We finally came together as a team, and we struggled all year with this,” Garland said. “Today these guys were faithful to each other, they were faithful with the gifts and talents they’ve blessed with and they were faithful with the opportunity, and they seized the moment. That’s why we won.”
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” DiCamillo said. “Coach Garland said yesterday in our team meeting that for the first time, we’re not on paper supposed to win. And that’s when we wrestle our best. We wrestle our best when we have a chip on our shoulder and I feel like we did a good job of responding to some controversial seeding and some adversity. We took fourth in the conference during the regular season and to win this the way we did and to still have nearly the entire finals to wrestle, it’s amazing. We couldn’t have asked for a better situation.”
The NCAA Championships will be held March 19-21 in St. Louis.
1. Virginia, 85.5
2. Pitt, 71.0
3. Virginia Tech, 59.5
4. Duke, 44.0
5. North Carolina, 42.0
6. NC State, 31.0
Most Valuable Wrestler–Tyler Wilps, Pitt
Individual Results–Championship Finals
125 Pounds—Joey Dance, Virginia Tech dec. Nick Herrmann, Virginia, 6-2
133 Pounds–George DiCamillo, Virginia dec. Mitch Finesilver, Duke, 12-6
141 Pounds–Devin Carter, Virginia Tech dec. Joey Ward, North Carolina, 11-3
149 Pounds–Mikey Racciato, Pitt dec. Christian Barber, North Carolina, SV-1, 3-1
157 Pounds–Nick Brascetta, Virginia Tech major dec. Andrew Atkinson, Virginia, 13-4
165 Pounds–Nick Sulzer, Virginia dec. Ethan Ramos, North Carolina, 5-2
174 Pounds–Tyler Wilps, Pitt dec. Blaise Butler, Virginia, 4-1
184 Pounds–Max Thomusseit, Pitt major dec. Jacob Kasper, Duke, 14-6
197 Pounds–Conner Hartmann, Duke dec. Zach Nye, Virginia, 6-5
285 Pounds–Nick Gwiazdowski, NC State major dec. Ryan Solomon, Pitt, 14-3