Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
No. 7 Virginia Tech Wrestling suffered a tight 18-13 at No. 10 Pittsburgh in their final dual meet of the season. The meet came down to the final match, but Pittsburgh was ultimately able to overcome the Hokies.
The dual meet started at 125 lbs, where Joey Prata earned an important 6-2 victory to snag the first three points for the Hokies. He finished the season with an 8-6 record in dual meets.
After #6 Micki Phillippi of Pittsburgh picked up a decision over Virginia Tech's Collin Gerardi, the Hokies won the next two matches. A decision from #14 Mitch Moore and a major decision from Bryce Andonian gave Virginia Tech a 10-3 lead. This was the second-straight top 10 matchup where both Moore and Andonian picked up big victories.
After #18 B.C. LaPrade fell to unranked Taleb Rahmani, LaPrade's fifth loss to Rahmani in his collegiate career, it was time for the first of two top-15 individual matchups on the evening.
In a hard fought battle, Virginia Tech's #10 David McFadden won a 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh's #14 Jake Wentzel. McFadden took a 2-0 lead with a takedown in the first period, and he only allowed one escape for the duration of the match. That match gave McFadden his first victory over a ranked ACC opponent this season.
After that victory, the Hokies appeared to be in pretty good shape. They had a 13-6 lead with four matches to go, including their best wrestler in #2 Hunter Bolen.
Unfortunately for the Hokies, they were unable to find a win in any of those final four matches. Bolen's tough loss to #7 Nino Bonaccorsi ended up being the most costly.
Bolen was strong for the first two periods and took a 6-2 lead into the third. However, a failed challenge by head coach Tony Robie on a stall called at the end of the second period seemed to change the momentum.
Pittsburgh earned a takedown at the end of the third period, which sent the match into Sudden Victory. After two SV periods, Pittsburgh earned a crucial takedown with six seconds to go and earned the victory.
Before and after Bolen's loss, Cody Hughes and Stanley Smeltzer lost their matches at 174 and 197 respectively, setting the stage for the heavyweights.
Going into the final match of the dual meet, Pittsburgh held a slim 14-13 lead. The Hokies' John Borst needed an upset over the Panthers' #8 Demetrius Thomas in order for Tech to win the match.
Borst was able to keep the score at 0-0 for the first period, but eventually his fatigue began to show. He was simply outmatched in this one, and Thomas earned a 13-2 major decision to win the match for Pittsburgh.
With the loss, the Hokies fall to 11-3 on the season and 2-3 in ACC meets. All three of their losses came to Top-10 opponents, and they were 5-3 on the season in Top-25 matchups.
Virginia Tech will have a week off before traveling back to Pittsburgh on March 8 for the ACC Championship. After close losses to N.C. State and Pittsburgh in the final two weeks of the regular season, the Hokies will look to redeem themselves as they pursue an ACC Tournament title.