Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics
#8 Virginia Tech Wrestling made their return to the mat after almost 10 months since the pandemic canceled the 2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships, and the Hokies did not disappoint in their season opener.
Virginia Tech took care of business with a 28-6 victory against Campbell to open their dual meet season. This is the only non-conference dual meet for the Hokies this season as they head to Morgantown, WV for a quad meet next week before entering ACC action.
Tech got off to a strong start early with an opening 6-3 win at heavyweight for #17 John Borst against Campbell's Taye Ghadiali. Then at 125, #18 Sam Latona made his Hokie debut after wrestling unattached last season, and was successful in his debut with a 5-3 victory over Zurich Storm to give the Hokies a 6-0 lead.
After injuries caused him to miss last season, #10 Korbin Myers made his return and was dominant with a 4-1 victory against Gabe Hixenbaugh where he showed that he is ready to make a run at being an All-American this year.
Another debut followed Myers in true freshman Sam Hillegas who had one of the best performances of the day getting a fall against Shannon Hanna just over a minute into the second period. Hillegas may not have been the most talked about part of the incoming class, but he is showed in this match that he has the talent to be a quality contributor at 141 with star potential beyond this year.
The biggest match of the day came at 149 in the lone ranked showdown between the Hokies' 20th-ranked Bryce Andonian and Campbell's 9th ranked Josh Heil. Andonian proved that he was clearly underrated preseason beating Heil in a very entertaining match that showed that Andonian could be the next breakout star for a Hokies' team full of star talent.
Connor Brady didn't have the 2021 debut he was hoping for as the redshirt freshman lost his match at 157 to Ben Barton 7-4.
Outside of Andonian, the biggest headline may have been the return of Mekhi Lewis who missed last season while preparing for the Olympics that were postponed due to the pandemic, using a special Olympic redshirt in the process. Lewis was dominant in his return with a 13-4 major decision against Austin Kraisser.
174 could be a place of competition this year with Kolton Clark losing his first career start to Kolton Murphy 6-4 though Clark showed tons of fight. Meanwhile, #2 Hunter Bolen didn't have a great performance but did enough for a close 4-3 victory against Caleb Hopkins.
Andy Smith, another true freshman, made his debut at 197 after wrestling as a heavyweight at nearby Christiansburg HS and had one of the best performances of the day for Tech with a 12-7 victory against Levi Hopkins. Smith's win makes things interesting at 197 with Stanley Smeltzer certain to battle Smith for starts there throughout the season.
Virginia Tech Wrestling had a strong showing overall with Bryce Andonian impressing a ton while freshmen like Sam Latona, Sam Hillegas, and Andy Smith all impressing in their first career dual meet starts for Tech. Most importantly, Tech saw their first ever national champion Mekhi Lewis make his return in a Hokie singlet and pick up right where he left off.