Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
It may have been closer than expected, but No. 7 Virginia Tech Wrestling took care of business on the road defeating Virginia 20-16 for their first ACC victory of the season. The win gives the Hokies some much-needed momentum with the chance to build on that at Old Dominion before some major ACC dual meets against the likes of Pittsburgh and N.C. State later on in February.
Things didn't start well for the Hokies as Tech's #13 125 wrestler Joey Prata was pinned by UVA's Jack Mueller, the #2 125 wrestler in the country. While losing to Mueller isn't necessarily a bad loss, Prata has had some struggles in recent weeks with the Hokies needing him to get back to his top form that has helped him break out this season.
Collin Gerardi put up a great fight, but came up just short against UVA's Louie Hayes 4-3 at 133. The ACC is fairly wide open at 133 outside of Pittsburgh's Micky Phillippi with Gerardi and Hayes definitely having a chance at a rematch in the semifinals of the ACC Championships.
Despite the 9-0 hole early, Virginia Tech turned it around starting with No. 18 Mitch Moore who beat UVA's Brian Courtney 10-4 and nearly had a pin on him. Moore continues to be a threat to pin almost any opponent and is a serious contender to break through and win the ACC title at 141 this season.
Bryce Andonian followed that up with a 13-4 major decision victory over Denton Spencer. Andonian has shown plenty of promise and improvement since taking over as the 149 starter with this being the latest sign of growth for him.
No. 18 B.C. LaPrade gave the Hokies a 10-9 lead that they would not relinquish with an 8-5 defeat of Justin McCoy. No. 5 David McFadden followed that up with a 5-1 victory over Cam Coy in what was a solid bounce-back victory after a shocking home loss against UNC last weekend.
Cody Hughes has found in his rhythm over the past several weeks and is starting to pick up valauble points for the Hokies as he did Friday night with a 2-0 victory over Vic Marcelli. Hughes is wrestling like a senior who has been waiting for his opportunity and definitely has the potential to make this year's NCAA Championships.
Hunter Bolen continues to be one of the elite 184 wrestlers in the country as the No. 2 ranked wrestler at his weight class defeated UVA's Michael Battista via a major decision 12-4 to help seal the deal for Virginia Tech. While most of the spotlight is on McFadden, Bolen looks like Virginia Tech's most serious threat to win an individual national championship and follow Mekhi Lewis' footsteps.
Stanley Smeltzer lost to No. 9 Jay Aiello of Virginia via a major decision 13-4, but not giving up bonus points helped the Hokies. No. 18 HWT John Borst was upset by UVA's Quinn Miller 6-4 in what was the first setback for Borst in months as he has been in the midst of a breakout season overall.
The Hokies definitely have plenty of work to do and an uphill climb in their pursuit of an ACC Dual Meet title, but this victory was a step in the right direction to rebuilding momentum. Tech will have a trip to Old Dominion followed by their Senior Night match against Duke. Tech will look to those 2 matches to build momentum before they enter the gauntlet of back-to-back matches against top 10 opponents on the road, N.C. State and Pittsburgh.