The Virginia wrestling team will move from its close quarters at Memorial Gymnasium to the bigger stage of John Paul Jones Arena Sunday when the No. 15 Cavs host No. 8 Virginia Tech in the ACC opener for both teams.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," junior Nick Sulzer said Friday at practice. "It's a big, huge arena. We're used to wrestling in Memorial Gym which is pretty small compared to JPJ so for that, all the lights are on you and it's really a test to see if you can rise up to the challenge."
Virginia head coach Steve Garland is hoping his team relishes the experience.
"You're in the John Paul Jones Arena. Your friends are there, your family is there. It's a first-rate venue, first-rate event against a first-rate team. Doesn't get any better than that. The whole purpose of competing is that. So my hope is they just have fun with it."
The Cavaliers haven't had much fun with the Hokies in recent history. Tech has taken the last eight dual meets between the two and the Cavs know Sunday will be another challenge.
"For a lot of the guys it will be a good step up and a measuring stick to see where they are and where they can build on for the future," Sulzer said.
"They're ranked eighth in the country so obviously it's going to be a really big match and then to add to it it's Virginia Tech so I feel the stakes can't get any higher."
Garland is taking a "bigger picture" mentality going into the match.
"I think what this will tell us though is 'ok, where do we need to work to get that ACC title.' Win or lose -- hopefully win -- what do we have to improve upon to win that ACC Championship, which is one of our first goals."
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