DURHAM, N.C.-The Duke University wrestling team will head to the University of Virginia this weekend to participate in the 2011 ACC Wrestling Championship on March 5. The event will take place at John Paul Jones Arena with the first round beginning at 11 a.m.
Live scoring will take place throughout the competition with live video being streamed for the consolation finals and championship matches from 5-9 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth and students. Doors will open at 10 a.m.
The Blue Devils wrestlers will vie for a selection of the 21 automatic bids awarded to the ACC this season. The breakdown by weight class is: 125: 2; 133: 1; 141: 3; 149: 2; 157: 3; 165: 2; 174: 2; 184: 3; 197: 2; 285: 1.
Redshirt sophomore Diego Bencomo and redshirt freshman Bret Klopp will lead the team heading into the championship event. Bencomo looks to grab one of the three automatic berths at 184 pounds. The Phoenix native is 24-13 overall on the year and finished 2-3 in conference action with wins over foes from Virginia Tech and NC State.
Klopp, competing at 174 pounds, will try to earn one of the two bids the league earned. Duke's leader with a 27-10 overall record and 18 pins, Klopp posted a 1-4 mark against ACC opponents with two of those losses coming against top 20 wrestlers.
Lining up for Duke at 141 pounds is senior Mike Bell. The native of Rockwall, Texas is 17-16 overall and went 1-4 in conference action as he posted a fall against North Carolina. Redshirt junior A.J. Guardado will compete at 149 pounds with a 10-12 mark, while rookie Ryan Harding will anchor the 157-pound division for the Blue Devils. Harding registered a 13-17 overall record in his inaugural season.
At 165 pounds it will be senior Willy Mello with an 8-15 overall record. He went 1-4 in ACC matches, garnering a victory at NC State. Rounding out the lineup will be redshirt sophomore Andrew Fulk at heavyweight. He put together a 1-4 overall record in ACC matches with a win against North Carolina. His remaining four matches were all decided by four or fewer points. Three of those setbacks were by just two points.
Duke finished fifth of six teams in 2010 with 28 points, defeating NC State by 12.5 points. The Blue Devils posted four top four finishes overall in 2010, including winning the heavyweight title.
After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I wrestling committee will select the remaining 49 at-large qualifiers. Those qualifiers will be announced on March 9. The NCAA Tournament kicks off on March 20 in Philadelphia.