Coming off their biggest weekend of the season that featured a win against #9 Lehigh, the Virginia Tech Wrestling team picked up another ranked victory, this time over #25 North Carolina. The win notched the squad’s final one at Cassell Coliseum this season, winning on senior day for Jared Haught and Dennis Gustafson.
However, it was Brent Moore, Ryan Blees, and Hunter Bolen that made a huge impact on the Hokies 21-9 win over the Tar Heels. The team now is 13-2 overall and 3-0 in ACC play.
One of the main headlines coming into this match was how the Hokies would deal with injuries suffered against Lehigh and Duke. As a result of Kyle Norstrem being injured and unable to wrestle, Ryan More earned his second consecutive start at 125. He ultimately fell 10-3 to UNC’s James Szymanski, but only gave up 3 team points in the process.
The Hokies then went on a big run. 18th ranked Dennis Gustafson put on a shutout performance in front of a rocking Cassell crowd, winning 6-0 in his final match at home. The senior has been a bright spot for the team all season at 133.
Then, two of the three biggest wins of the day, came at 141 and 149. Brent Moore, who has been red-hot in the second half of the season, defeated North Carolina’s 16th-ranked A.C. Headlee, 3-2. Head coach Tony Robie mentioned after the Duke match that his team would need to upset the Tar Heels in a few weight classes if they wanted to win. This was indeed one of those weight classes.
Another upset victory came from last week’s co-ACC Wrestler of the Week, Ryan Blees. The unranked redshirt junior won in overtime against #6 Troy Heilmann of North Carolina by a score of 3-1. Since moving from 157 to 149, he has won 13 matches and only lost once. This was the highest ranked wrestler he has defeated all season. This week, he was once again named ACC Wrestler of the Week.
With B.C. LaPrade not wrestling at 157, Solomon Chishko got the nod against 16th ranked Kennedy Monday of North Carolina. After wrestling in the Appalachian State Open a week ago, he competed hard against Monday but ultimately fell 3-1 in overtime. This was impressive from Chishko as it was his first collegiate match wrestling at 157. This put the Tar Heels within three, trailing 9-6 overall.
At 165, David McFadden continues to win as he defeated Josh McClure of North Carolina 11-6. He remains undefeated on the season.
The third upset of the day was a big one, coming at 174 as Hunter Bolen won on a major decision, defeating 13th ranked Ethan Ramos of North Carolina, 14-6. With 90 seconds to play in the 3rd period, the score was tied at 6, but Bolen was able to grab a few points, eventually get a nearfall, and use riding time to secure a 14-6 major decision.
#8 Zack Zavatsky had a tough test at 184, as 17th ranked Chip Ness of North Carolina made him earn every point in his 4-3 victory.
#2 Jared Haught closed out his career at Cassell Coliseum with an impressive 6-2 win over 16th ranked Danny Chaid. His impact on this Virginia Tech program will live on for quite some time as he prepares to make a run at an individual national title.
Lastly, at heavyweight, 18th ranked Cory Daniel of North Carolina edged Virginia Tech’s Andrew Dunn 3-2, who was ranked 17th.
Virginia Tech picked up their best ACC win of the season with their 21-9 victory over the Tar Heels (who actually rose a spot in the polls despite the loss). The win propelled Ryan Blees and Hunter Bolen into the InterMat top 20 at their individual weight classes with Bolen being ranked 15th at 174 and Blees being ranked 16th at 149.
The Hokies have two regular season matches left, at Virginia and at North Carolina State. These will be two big tests for the team before the ACC tournament with the NC State match set to decide the winner of the ACC Dual Meet title.