When Kevin Dresser left Virginia Tech to take over the Iowa State head coaching job, many wondered how the Hokies would respond in the ACC and NCAA Championships after Dresser made the move with history suggesting that the Hokies could have some problems. However, the exact opposite happened in Raleigh yesterday.
Virginia Tech dominated the ACC competition at Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday on their way to winning their third ACC Championship and first since 2014. The Hokies also swept the ACC Dual Meet and Tournament titles for the first time in program history with Virginia Tech heading to the NCAA Championships wrestling the best they have all year.
Virginia Tech had six number 1 seeded wrestlers in this year’s ACC Championships and five of them proved why they absolutely deserved to receive number 1 seeds while one of the Hokies’ number 2 seeds also stepped up.
Joey Dance won his third career ACC title as the senior became the first Hokie to ever achieve that accomplishment of winning three ACC titles. The nationally third-ranked Dance did it by taking down nationally 11th-ranked Sean Fausz of NC State in the finals via a 3-1 sudden victory to send Dance away from Raleigh with plenty of momentum in his pursuit of a first career national title.
The success continued at 149 as Solomon Chishko won his first career ACC title beating UNC’s Troy Heilmann in the finals as Chishko looks like a contender to win a national title. Then, the Hokies got to their back four and took over starting with Zach Epperly who took down UNC’s talented Ethan Ramos 4-3 to win his first ACC title.
Zack Zavatsky stepped up right after him at 184 and despite being seeded second, Zavatsky upset top-seeded Michael Macchiavello of NC State 3-2 to win his second-straight ACC title with four career ACC titles not being something that seems ridiculous given how Zavatsky has two in two years.
Then, Jared Haught and Ty Walz shut it down as the talented veterans they are to earn both of their first ACC titles with Haught taking down UNC’s Daniel Chaid 6-3 and Walz getting revenge against Duke’s Jacob Kasper 8-2 to give both of them lots of momentum as their attention turns to St. Louis.
Sal Mastriani was the Hokies’ only number 1 seed not to win an ACC title losing in the final to Pittsburgh’s third-seeded Taleb Rahmani in a 13-5 major decision while Dennis Gustafson stepped up and finished third despite being seeded fifth. Meanwhile, Kevin Norstrem and David Bergida lost both of their matches, ending their seasons while Mastriani should be headed for St. Louis and Gustafson might have a small chance now as well though that seems unlikely despite this performance.
Virginia Tech rose up without Kevin Dresser in what was a great audition for Tony Robie as the Hokies proved that they are one of the top contenders to dethrone Penn State and win the national title in St. Louis.