Cavalier Corner

April 2013

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cavalier profile Mike Salopek Redshirt Fourth-Year • Wrestling The UVa wrestling program has been steadily climbing the ladder in the ACC, and redshirt fourth-year Mike Salopek has been a big factor in the Cavaliers' rise. The 197-pound Salopek wasted little time establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in his redshirt firstyear season. The North Huntington, Pa., native had his breakout performance in the Southern Scuffle in Greensboro N.C., earning three victories over ACC opponents and taking home a third-place finish. He finished 16-5 in duals and with a 28-10 overall record during his rookie campaign, and took home the ACC title at 184 pounds. The impressive regular season earned Salopek a berth in the NCAA Championships and Amateur Wrestling News All-Rookie team recognition. Unfortunately, the next two seasons would prove to be a series of setbacks. A significant shoulder injury limited Salopek to just 17 matches as a redshirt second-year. Still, Salopek managed 11 wins and a 4-0 mark in the ACC. He earned the team's Kevin Michaels Heart and Guts award for his perseverance through all the adversity. Injuries continued to plague Salopek the following season. After a strong start, he was shut down after competing in just eight matches. "I had some high expectations coming into my sophomore season, and then I dealt with my shoulder problems all that year," Salopek told "I come back from my shoulder, and then I get my knee, and then it's one thing after another." Salopek has worked tirelessly to regain the magic of his first campaign. He has become a crowd favorite at Memorial Gymnasium, drawing rave crowd reactions after victories. He said the motivation and support from Cavalier Nation and his teammates helped propel his comeback. "It's really motivating," Salopek said. "I've had some high expectations since my freshman year, and I haven't been able to get to those expectations, so you've got to jam everything into the last few months of the season and just try to reach those goals I've set for myself." — Drew Goodman ◆ Photo by Thomas Wilson/courtesy UVa

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