Gambucci, wrestling with confidence, provided the fireworks for the Blue Devils throughout the day. After outlasting Joey Ward of North Carolina 3-2 in his opening bout, Gambucci answered any questions of him qualifying for NCAA Championships by upsetting top-seeded Geoffrey Alexander in an 11-2 major decision.
Seeded fifth overall and up against No. 2 seed George DiCamillo of Virginia in the title bout, Gambucci turned in an outstanding performance. The Mansfield, Ohio native grabbed the first lead of the match with a takedown in the first period. Gambucci and DiCamillo continued to trade points, but a takedown in the waning seconds gave the Virginia freshman enough time to tack on the extra seconds of riding time for the 10-9 decision.
Gambucci is 19-5 overall and becomes the 34th Blue Devil to earn a spot in the NCAA postseason. He improved two spots from a year ago after placing fourth in his inaugural championship.
Joining Gambucci on the podium with a third-place showing was redshirt freshman Conner Hartmann at 197 pounds. Competing for the first time since Jan. 6, Hartmann performed well for the Blue Devils. The Port Orchard, Wash. native cruised through the opening bout with a 13-2 major decision before losing to top-seeded Christian Boley 3-1 in the semifinals.
Hartmann quickly rebounded in the consolation semifinals with a 6-1 decision in the consolation semifinals against North Carolina's Frank Abbondanza to set up a third-place match with Derrick Borlie. Looking to help solidify a chance for an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships, Hartmann scored first with an escape and then added a late takedown to post his 20th victory of the year with a 3-1 decision.
Redshirt freshman Trey Adamson and junior Brian Self advanced to the consolation finals and placed fourth overall at 174 and heavyweight, respectively. The finish was the highest for Self in his second ACC Championship appearance, while Adamson made his debut.
Adamson, in search of one of three berths at 174 pounds, made his way to the consolation finals with wins over four seed Tanner Eitel of UNC and Patrick Davis of NC State. Up against Austin Gabel of Virginia Tech, Adamson fought to the very end as he lost on a takedown in the early moments of the third overtime. Overall, Adamson is 22-16 and went 3-5 against ACC foes this season.
Self put himself in position for a top-three finish as well with a thrilling triple overtime victory in the consolation semifinals. Wrestling outside of his normal 197-pound division, Self scored a takedown early in the third overtime to outlast Maryland's Dallas Brown and earn the opportunity to wrestle one more time. In the consolation finals, the Oklahoma City native met Mike Kosoy for the second time of the day, falling to the Wolfpack heavyweight.
At 141 pounds, sophomore Tanner Hough started the day by upsetting No. 3 seed Joe Spisak of Virginia by a 5-3 decision. Hough, in search of his second consecutive NCAA berth, fell in the semifinal round to second-seeded Zach Neibert leaving him still in need of a victory to secure a bid. Hough came up short again in the consolation semifinals, dropping a 9-0 major decision to Maryland's Frank Goodwin.
Redshirt sophomore Immanuel Kerr-Brown also just missed the consolation finals with a 7-5 overtime setback to Chris Mears of North Carolina in the consolation semifinal. Kerr-Brown won his first match by major decision, fell in the semifinal in a 5-2 decision to set up the heartbreaking defeat against Mears. The regular season meeting between the duo also finished in overtime as Kerr-Brown emerged victorious in that bout.
Gambucci will wrestle again at the NCAA Championships March 21-23 at the Wells Fargo Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Hartmann will await word on whether he receives and at-large bid to the NCAA field. The NCAA officially announces the field March 13 on NCAA.com