It may have been closer than expected, but the #7 Virginia Tech Wrestling team got the job on the road at Virginia to complete an undefeated season in ACC play among contested matches ahead of their rescheduled "non-conference" showdown with ACC rival N.C. State.
#7 Virginia Tech Wrestling beat Virginia 20-15 to improve to 4-0 in contested ACC dual meets with the N.C. State dual meet counting still as a forfeit with the dual meet being rescheduled as a non-conference event. The "forfeit" does not count on Tech's overall dual meet record for the season though those records don't matter for NCAA Tournament purposes.
It was a night defined by the Hokies dominating the lower weights and their stars wrestling biggest starting with #20 Sam Latona who has had a sophomore slump, but had one of his best performances of the season with an 8-4 decision over Patrick McCormick.
#5 Korbin Myers has been a star all year at 133 for the Hokies and delivered once again with a dominant 8-3 victory over #20 Brian Courtney of UVA. Myers continues to show that he a legitimate contender at 133 to make a run at a national title and should be the clear favorite to win the ACC title at 133.
#22 Collin Gerardi has found his rhythm at 141 and continues to wrestle impressively as he had a 6-2 decision victory over Dylan Cedeno. This momentum could be crucial going into Sunday's showdown with N.C. State where his bout against #24 Ryan Jack of the Wolfpack is one that both teams know will be crucial to victory.
In the second ranked bout of the night, #5 Bryce Andonian had to grind it out a little more than expected but was still able to grind out a 5-4 victory over #32 Jared Verkleeren. Now, Andonian can turn his attention to the major 149 showdown against #3 Tariq Wilson on Sunday in what will be a statement opportunity for both wrestlers and a likely preview of the ACC Tournament final at 149.
#28 Connor Brady has slumped slightly of late and that continued on the road Friday night with a 5-3 decision loss to #26 Jake Keating of UVA. Tech will need Brady to find his form when he takes on fellow freshman #11 Ed Scott on Sunday night with Tech not wanting to give up bonus points if Brady is unable to find his footing at worst.
#23 Justin McCoy was too much for freshman Clayton Ulrey who has been wrestling better of late but was unable to come up with victory at 165 as McCoy picked up a 6-2 victory.
After a couple losses, #3 Mekhi Lewis turned it around at 174 with a dominant 17-6 major decision victory over Justin Phillips. Lewis gets his chance to make it clear why he should be #1 as the former national champion at 165 faces #4 Hayden Hidlay in Raleigh on Sunday night in what is the clear main event bout between two of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the country.
#14 Hunter Bolen hasn't had as good of a season as hoped to date, but he may have begun to turn the corner Friday night with arguably his best performance of the year via a 13-3 major decision victory over #25 Michael Battista of UVA. The big victory comes at the right time for Bolen with a showdown with #3 Trent Hidlay of N.C. State looming Sunday where the Hokies know if Bolen could pull the upset, it would blow the door wide open for an upset.
#30 Dakota Howard has shown plenty of growth this season, but Friday night didn't go so well as #16 Jay Aiello got a fall on him 5:32 into the match. The loss isn't ideal with #15 Isaac Trumble looming, but Howard has lived up to his "Junk Yard Dog" nickname mentality wrestling plenty of top guys close and it would be surprising if that match wasn't a battle.
#14 Nathan Traxler has been as reliable of a heavyweight wrestler as Tech has had since Ty Walz, but Traxler didn't have his best on Friday night and it cost him as he lost a close 4-3 decision to #32 Quinn Miller of UVA. Tech will need the veteran Traxler to bounce back quickly with the Hokies needing a victory from him Sunday against #26 Tyrie Houghton.
The Hokies did what they needed to in beating UVA to set the stage well for their Sunday showdown with N.C. State that may not decide the official ACC Dual Meet title, but will decide what feels like the real title one at least among Hokie fans. The biggest positive may be the dominant major decision victory from Hunter Bolen that may be a sign he's rounding into his best form at just the right time while Mekhi Lewis continues to show that he probably should be the #1 guy in the country.
Tech's biggest names are wrestling well heading towards the major showdown full of matchups that may be for ACC titles in just a couple weeks with the Hokies having every reason to believe that they can go to Raleigh and take down the Wolfpack as they did in Blacksburg last year.