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The #6 Hokies easily beat Princeton 30-11. [Credit: Harley Taylor][/caption]The Virginia Tech Hokies ended 2016 ranked sixth and started 2017 by heading on the road to New Jersey to take on Princeton in a match that presented some good matchups for the Hokies' top wrestlers and some challenges for others. Virginia Tech's back-loaded starting lineup led to an early hole, but the Hokies were able to overcome that quickly and get another big win.
#6 Virginia Tech beat Princeton 30-11 with the Hokies opening up a huge margin at the end thanks to tech fall victories from both Jared Haught and Ty Walz. While Princeton didn't receive any votes this past week, they have received votes earlier this season and are a quality win for the Hokies especially with Princeton having some solid wrestlers.
The Hokies opened with a strong performance from Joey Dance at 125 who cruised to a 10-2 major decision to victory to start the night and new year for the Hokies. Dominic Latona has had his fair share of struggles and the Hokies' starting 133 wrestler's struggles have continued with Latona losing 6-3 to Princeton's Pat Darcy and making you wonder if Latona will be able to keep his starting spot much longer despite his youth. Virginia Tech fell in a hole with Brendan Ryan losing by a 27-12 major decision to Princeton's fourth-ranked Matthew Kolodzik.
However, the Hokies then picked up a big win at 149 as seventh-ranked Solomon Chishko picked up a big 9-3 win over Princeton's 17th-ranked Jordan Laster. The win definitely could push Chishko up a spot or two in the rankings this week especially with Chishko stepping upon the road to get what is a great win to start his 2017 and give him some more momentum ahead of facing ACC opponents as he is currently ranked as the best 149 ACC wrestler.
Ryan Blees wrestled in the place of Sal Mastriani and struggled on his way to a 4-0 defeat to Mike DiAngelo that doesn't help his case whatsoever to try to hold on to a spot over the 15th-ranked Mastriani whenever Mastriani is ready to go. After this loss, the Hokies took over the rest of the night starting at 165 with New Jersey native David Bergida.
The New Jersey native Bergida took advantage of his chance to wrestle in his home state in his final season as a Hokie as he beat Princeton's Joe Tavoso 12-2 in a major decision that may make Kevin Dresser think about putting Bergida in his regular starting lineup.
Then, the Hokies started to really turn it on starting at 174 with second-ranked Zach Epperly beating Princeton's 17th-ranked Jonathan Schleifer via a 12-4 major decision in what is a great start to the new year for Epperly. The strong final half of the night continued for the Hokies with fourth-ranked Zack Zavatsky who beat Princeton's Joey Baker with a 10-2 major decision.
Then, the best showdown of the night once again came at 197 as third-ranked Jared Haught faced Princeton's 12th-ranked Brett Harner in a great chance for Harner to get a great win to start 2017. In what was a very close match, Haught got a big win in a big way beating Harner with a tech fall in the second in what was another very impressive win for Haught who continues to be one of the top 197 wrestlers in the country and one of the top contenders to win a national title along with being the best non-senior at the 197 weight.
Ty Walz then came in and closed the deal with a big victory as the Hokies' third-ranked heavyweight wrestler cruised to a tech fall victory 27-11 over Princeton's Ray O'Donnell in what was a great way for Walz to start 2017.
Kevin Dresser and the Hokies continue to show why they will be one of the top contenders to win the national title with a team loaded with wrestlers that can contend for a national title. There are definitely some weaknesses in their lineup especially at 133 where Latona could face some pressure, but Virginia Tech got some great wins from top wrestlers like Jared Haught, Solomon Chishko, and Zach Epperly on their way to a very good victory in New Jersey.
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