Despite the quick turnaround on the schedule, No. 7 Virginia Tech was able to find success in their ACC opener to take down Duke, 42-3.
Overall on the night, nine of the 10 Hokie wrestlers came out victorious as only No. 21 Connor Brady suffered a defeat on the mat. In the 157 weight bout, Brady had a 3-2 edge over Duke’s Wade Unger entering the final ten seconds, but Unger recorded a take down to snatch the upset.
After the bout, a disgruntled Tony Robie walked into the tunnel underneath the south side of Cassell Coliseum.
But there were plenty of moments on the night where Robie was pleased with his wrestlers’ performance.
In the premier bout of the night, Virginia Tech’s No. 5 Bryce Andonian and Duke’s No. 14 Josh Finesilver were slated to deliver a competitive battle at the 149 weight class. But Andonian had different plans as he pinned Finesilver 21 seconds into the bout to send Cassell into a frenzy.
In another headliner dual, No. 3 Mekhi Lewis faced off against No. 14 Matt Finesilver in the 174 weight division, and unlike the other top 15 match, this one went the distance.
After the first two periods, the two wrestlers were knotted up at two but the National Champion prevailed with a clutch third period performance to take the 5-2 major decision victory.
For most of the ranked Hokie wrestlers, it was a solid night on the mat.
No. 20 Sam Latona got the night started off well for the Hokies as he put Duke’s Ty Naquin with a Tech Fall during the second period of the 125 bout. Shortly after, No. 5 Korbin Myers had the easiest night of them all as he was awarded a forfeit victory for the 133 weight division. With those quick results, the Hokies had an early 11-0 lead over the visitors.
Transitioning to the 141 weight class, No. 22 Collin Gerardi made slight work of his opponent in Patrick Rowland, securing a 8-0 major decision victory. The Hokies had another major decision shutout victory with Hunter Bolen in the 184 weight class, as he recorded a 14-0 result over Conor Baker.
Another ranked Hokie to get a stellar result was No. 32 Dakota Howard in the 197 weight division as he held off Kaden Russell in the third period to pick up the 10-5 major decision victory. Meanwhile, No. 14 Nathan Traxler delivered an exciting ending to the night as he pinned Jonah Nissenbaum in the first period to send the esatic Hokie fans home feeling satisfied.
But no other Hokie had a more meaningful bout on the night than Clayton Ulrey of the 165 weight class, who was also celebrating his 20th birthday. The sophomore picked up a 13-5 major decision victory over Gabe Dinette which was able to help the Hokies bounce back after Brady’s upset defeat.
The good news for the Hokies is that they will have a full week to prepare for their next dual meet, a Top 25 battle against No. 24 North Carolina, at Cassell Coliseum on Friday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. The night will be dedicated to the seniors with the annual Senior Night activities due to it being the final home dual meet of the regular season. All of the action will be presented on the ACC Network Extra.