PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Redshirt junior Jay Aiello (Chantilly, Va.) claimed the title at 197 pounds to lead the Cavaliers in competition at the ACC Championships on Sunday (March 8) at the Petersen Events Center. He is the first ACC Champion at the weight class for Virginia since the 2009 season and only the third champion at the weight class for the Cavaliers.
Aiello led a group of four Cavaliers to place in the championships. Senior Jack Mueller (Dallas, Texas) finished as runner-up at 125 pounds, while redshirt junior Louie Hayes (Orland Park, Ill.) and redshirt sophomore Denton Spencer (Waverly, Ga.) both claimed third place finishes.
Both Aiello and Mueller locked up All-ACC honors by virtue of their finishes at this year’s ACC Championships. Mueller earned All-ACC honors for the third straight season, while Aiello earned All-ACC honors for the second-straight season.
In all, six Cavaliers locked up automatic bids to the upcoming NCAA Championships with their finishes on Sunday night. In addition to Aiello, Hayes and Mueller, others securing bids were redshirt sophomores Cam Coy (Jeanette, Pa.) and Quinn Miller (Lilburn, Ga.) and redshirt freshman Justin McCoy (New Paris, Pa.).
The Cavaliers will now await the announcement of the full field of individuals selected for the NCAA Championships on Tuesday (March 10) when at-large selections are released by the NCAA. The full brackets and seeds will be announced on Wednesday (March 11) at 6 p.m.ET in a selection show on NCAA.com.
The Cavaliers finished fourth in the team standings with a total of 60.5 points. NC State claimed the overall title with 81 points, while host Pittsburgh finished second with 77 points and North Carolina finished third with 67.5 points.
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. NC State – 81.0 pts
2. Pittsburgh – 77.0 pts
3. North Carolina – 67.5 pts
4. Virginia – 60.5 pts
5. Virginia Tech – 52.5 pts
6. Duke – 2.0 pts
HEAD COACH STEVE GARLAND ON THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
“It was a really good day overall for Virginia wrestling. There were a lot more positives than there were negatives. We got six qualifiers for the NCAA Championships and we’re very excited about that. We finished in fourth place, which put us ahead of a top-10 team, but that just shows how tough this tournament really is and crazy the postseason can be. There were lots of positives today. We’re not happy with everything, but our team continues to get better and I’m proud of our guys.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
The tournament’s top seed at 125 pounds, Mueller received a first-round bye. He then posted a major decision of fourth-seeded Joey Prata of Virginia Tech in the semifinals before dropping the 11-4 decision to second-seeded Jakob Camacho of NC State in the finals.
At 133 pounds, the fourth-seeded Hayes defeated fifth-seeded Collin Gerardi of Virginia Tech in the opening round before dropping a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Micky Phillippi, the bracket’s top-seed from Pitt. Hayes then pinned Duke’s Harrison Campbell in the consolation semifinals before taking a 5-3 decision from third-seeded Jarrett Trombley of NC State in the tiebreak period to lock up his third place finish.
At 149 pounds, Spencer went 3-1 on the day with his only loss coming in the semifinals to top-seeded Austin O’Connor of North Carolina. Spencer pinned Pitt’s Dallas Bulsak in the opening match before fighting through the consolation bracket with a pair of shutouts over sixth-seeded Wade Unger of Duke and third-seeded A.J. Leitten of NC State. He defeated Unger in a 12-0 major decision and Leitten in a 7-0 decision.
At 157 pounds, McCoy locked up his first NCAA berth after going 2-2 on the day. He defeated fourth-seeded B.C. LaPrade of Virginia Tech in the opening match and pinned Eric Carter of Duke in the consolation semifinals to advance to the third-place match. He dropped his two matches to top-seeded Hayden Hidlay of NC State and second-seeded A.C. Headlee of North Carolina.
At 165 pounds, the sixth-seeded Coy missed out on placing, but locked up the automatic bid for the NCAA Championships by knocking off top-seeded Kennedy Monday of North Carolina in the consolation semifinals before falling to second-seeded Thomas Bullard of NC State in the third-place match.
At heavyweight, Miller earned the final automatic bid for the Cavaliers on the day by defeating Jonah Niesenbaum of Duke in the fifth-place match – a match that doesn’t count for placing or points, but was necessary to determine who claimed the automatic bid. Miller pinned Niesenbaum in his opening match for his other win on the day as he went 2-2.
Brian Courtney (Sayre, Pa.) and Michael Battista (Ashburn, Va.) also both advanced to the third-place match at 141 pounds and 184 pounds, respectively, but both dropped their third-place match. Both weight classes only received automatic bids to the NCAA Championships for the top three finishers.
ADDITIONAL TOURNAMENT NOTES
- Jack Mueller became the program’s 11th four-time NCAA qualifier when he locked up the auto bid at 125.
- Jay Aiello and Cam Coy will return to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive season.
- Louie Hayes will make earned his second NCAA Championships berth. His first came in the 2018 season.
- The fourth-place finish is the highest for the Cavaliers since back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 2016 and 2017. Virginia won the ACC Championship in Pittsburgh in the 2015 season.
- It is the third consecutive year for the Cavaliers to have two All-ACC selections.
- Aiello became the first 197-pound champion for UVA since 2009 (Brent Jones) and is only the third ever at that weight class for the Cavaliers.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS BY WEIGHT CLASS
No. 1 seed Jack Mueller – Runner-Up Finish
SF: Mueller major dec. No. 4 seed Joey Prata (VT), 10-1
FINAL: No. 2 seed Jakob Camacho (NCSU) dec. Mueller, 11-4
*Mueller earns one of three automatic NCAA bids by finishing second
No. 4 seed Louie Hayes – 3rd Place Finish
R1: Hayes dec. No. 5 seed Collin Gerardi (VT), 7-2
SF: No. 1 seed Micky Phillippi (Pitt) dec. Hayes, 1-0
Conso. SF: Hayes pinned No. 6 seed Harrison Campbell (Duke), 3:21
Third-Place Match: Hayes dec. No. 3 seed Jarrett Trombley (NCSU), 5-3 (TB-1)
*Hayes earns one of three automatic NCAA bids by finishing third
No. 5 seed Brian Courtney
R1: No. 4 seed Cole Matthews (Pitt) dec. Courtney, 7-6
Conso. SF: Courtney over No. 3 seed Mitch Moore (VT) by medical forfeit
Third-Place Match: No. 4 seed Cole Matthews (Pitt) dec. Courtney, 3-1 (sv-1)
No. 4 seed Denton Spencer – 3rd Place Finish
R1: Spencer pinned No. 5 seed Dallas Bulsak, 1:47
SF: No. 1 seed Austin O’Connor (UNC) dec. Spencer, 5-0
Conso. SF: Spencer major dec. No. 6 seed Wade Unger (Duke), 12-0
Third-Place Match: Spencer dec. No. 3 seed A.J. Leitten (NCSU), 7-0
No. 5 seed Justin McCoy
R1: McCoy dec. No. 4 seed B.C. LaPrade (VT), 6-3
SF: No. 1 seed Hayden Hidlay (NCSU) major dec. McCoy, 11-2
Conso. SF: McCoy pinned No. 6 seed Eric Carter (Duke), 2:41
Third-Place Match: No. 2 seed A.C. Headlee (UNC) dec. McCoy, 8-4
*McCoy earns one of five automatic NCAA bids by finishing fourth
No. 6 seed Cam Coy
R1: No. 3 seed David McFadden (VT) dec. Coy, 3-0
Conso. SF: Coy dec. No. 1 seed Kennedy Monday (UNC), 3-1 (sv.-1)
Third-Place Match: No. 2 seed Thomas Bullard (NCSU) pinned Coy, 3:31
*Coy earns one of four automatic NCAA bids by finishing fourth
No. 6 seed Victor Marcelli
R1: No. 3 seed Mason Eaglin (Duke) dec. Marcelli, 4-0
Conso. SF: No. 1 seed Greg Harvey (Pitt) dec. Marcelli, 8-3
No. 4 seed Michael Battista
R1: Battista dec. No. 5 seed Joey Mazzara (UNC), 10-4
SF: No. 1 seed Hunter Bolen (VT) tech fall Battista, 17-0
Conso. SF: Battista major dec. No. 6 seed Kai Blake (Duke), 18-6
Third-Place Match: No. 3 seed Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) major dec. Battista, 14-4
No. 1 seed Jay Aiello – ACC Champion
SF: Aiello tech fall No. 5 seed Vincent Baker (Duke), 16-0 (5:00)
FINAL: Aiello dec. No. 3 seed Brandon Whitman (UNC), 10-4
*Aiello earned the only automatic NCAA bid for the ACC by claiming the title
No. 3 seed Quinn Miller
R1: Miller pinned No. 6 seed Jonah Niesenbaum (Duke), 2:45
SF: No. 2 seed Deonte Wilson (NCSU) dec. Miller, 7-1
Conso. SF: No. 5 seed Andrew Gunning (UNC) dec. Miller, 4-2
Fifth-Place Match: Miller tech fall No. 6 seed Jonah Niesenbaum (Duke), 16-0
*Miller earns one of five automatic NCAA bids by finishing fifth