Virginia drops ACC opener to No. 18 Pittsburgh

Courtesy UVA Media Relations


(© Michael Chamberlin –

The Virginia wrestling team (3-3, 0-1 ACC) dropped its ACC opener on Friday (Jan. 21) falling to No. 18 Pittsburgh (6-3, 1-0 ACC) by a score of 25-10 as the Panthers pulled away down the stretch.

With the dual opening at 149 pounds, the Cavaliers got off to the quick start with a decision by 28th-ranked Jarod Verkleeren over Luke Kemerer. Pitt would then claim back-to-back weight classes before Justin Phillips would pull Virginia back even in the dual score with a decision over James Lledo at 174 pounds. Michael Battista, ranked No. 23 at 184 pounds, won his battle of ranked opponents with a 9-5 decision over No. 31 Gregg Harvey to give Virginia the lead for the second time in the match.

Virginia led 10-7 after five weight classes, but Pitt would go on to win the final five matchups to claim the dual.


  • Jake Keating, who is ranked No. 28 at 157 pounds, wrestled up at 165 for the matchup with Pitt.
  • Michael Battista defeated Gregg Harvey for the second straight season in dual competition. Battista helped lock up the dual win for Virginia last season with a 3-2 upset of Harvey in Charlottesville.
  • Battista has now won 11 consecutive matches on the way to a 12-1 mark on the season.
  • Trey Lane wrestled up at 133 for his first dual action of his career against No. 7 Micky Philippi.
  • Evan Buchanan also saw his first dual action as a Cavalier in his bout at 141 pounds vs. No. 20 Cole Matthews.


149: No. 28 Jarod Verkleeren dec. Luke Kemerer (Pitt), 7-2 – UVA 3, Pitt 0

157: No. 21 Elijah Cleary (Pitt) dec. Jon Errico, 4-2 – UVA 3, Pitt 3

165: No. 13 Jake Wentzel (Pitt) major dec. Jake Keating, 10-0 – Pitt 7, UVA 3

174: Justin Phillips major dec. James Lledo (Pitt), 13-5 – UVA 7, Pitt 7

184: No. 23 Michael Battista dec. No. 31 Gregg Harvey (Pitt), 9-5 – UVA 10, Pitt 7

197: No. 5 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt) dec. No. 11 Jay Aiello, 9-4 – UVA 10, Pitt 10

285: Jake Slinger (Pitt) dec. No. 26 Quinn Miller, 4-1 – Pitt 13, UVA 10

125: No. 21 Gage Curry (Pitt) dec. Patrick McCormick, 3-2 – Pitt 16, UVA 10

133: No. 7 Micky Philippi (Pitt) tech fall Trey Lane, 22-7 () – Pitt 21, UVA 10

141: No. 20 Cole Matthews (Pitt) major dec. Evan Buchanan, 10-1 – Pitt 25, UVA 10

UVA coach Steve Garland

“We had some good individual performances tonight, but we couldn’t put it all together as a team. Jarod (Verkleeren) got us started right and then wow did Justin Phillips and Michael Battista wrestle well. They were both attacking the entire match. That’s the way it has to look for everyone, though.

“Jake Keating wrestled up a weight against a returning NCAA finalist and attacked the whole time. He lost, yes, but he competed in such a way. He competed the way we want our guys to compete. The way you compete matters, not just the end result. We talked about that as a team afterwards and I trust the message got across.”

ACC Championships at JPJ

The Cavaliers will host the ACC Wrestling Championships on Sunday, March 6, at John Paul Jones Arena and tickets are on sale now. Tickets are $10 for adults (ages 19 and older; ACC students are admitted free with school ID) and $5 for youth ages 18 and under. Group sales (20 or more) are priced at $3 each. All seats are general admission and can be purchased online here.

Up next

Virginia returns to action next Friday (Jan. 28) when the Cavaliers host No. 22 North Carolina in a 7 p.m. dual at Memorial Gym.