March 7, 2009
BLACKSBURG, Va. - Thanks to a pair of third-place finishes from Brian Letters (165 pounds) and Corey Peltier (174 pounds), the University of Maryland wrestling team has pulled into first place heading into the finals of the ACC Championship at Virginia Tech.
The Terps have 61.5 points, while Virginia Tech is second with 57.5. Virginia is also well within reach with 56 points. The Hokies were docked a point on their team score for unsportsmanlike conduct.
However, the Hokies will have an opportunity to gain ground in the finals, as they have five grapplers participating in the finals, while Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina each have four.
After being knocked off in the championship bracket earlier in the day, Letters and Peltier earned a pair of victories to finish in third place.
Letters defeated NC State's Quinton Godley, 3-0, in the consolation semifinals before holding off Virginia Tech's Matt Epperly, 8-6, in the third-place match. Peltier, a freshman, defeated North Carolina's Ben Fiacco, 8-4, to get to the third-place match, where he beat Duke's Voris Tejada, 4-3. Despite their strong finishes, neither Letter nor Peltier earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
Redshirt freshman Kyle John and sophomore heavyweight Patrick Gilmore both finished fourth to add more points to Maryland's total. Gilmore needed a third-place finish to earn an NCAA bid, but lost a tough match, 3-2, to Virginia Tech's David Marone.
Brendan Byrne (125 pounds), No. 11 Steven Bell (133 pounds), No. 10 Alex Krom (141 pounds) and No. 9 Hudson Taylor (197 pounds) have all advanced to the finals in their weight classes and have each clinched an NCAA berth in the process.
Byrne received a bye in the first round and then beat North Carolina's Nick Shields, 10-1, to advance to the finals, where he will face No. 12 Jarrod Garnett of Virginia Tech for the championship.
Bell also received a bye and then edged NC State's Darrius Little, 2-1, in the semifinals. Bell will face North Carolina's Mike Rappo in the final.
At 141 pounds, Krom took a 4-3 decision from No. 17 Nick Nelson of Virginia. Krom will face No. 18 Chris Diaz from Virginia Tech in the final.
Taylor made short work of NC State's Joe Trotto in the first round, winning by fall in 1 minute, 11 seconds. Taylor followed up that fall with a decisive, 10-0, major decision against Virginia Tech's D.J. Bruce. Taylor is scheduled to face No. 19 Brent Jones in the championship match.
The finals are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.