Cassell Coliseum was jumping Sunday. Not only did the No. 7 ranked women’s basketball team take down UNC Asheville, but just two hours later, Blacksburg was treated to a top ten dual between the ninth ranked Hokies and the seventh ranked Missouri Tigers.
This dual was the home opener for the Hokies, who were more than happy to be back in Cassell following a 2021-2022 campaign in which they finished eighth overall at the NCAA wrestling championships.
And for Cooper Flynn, a 125 lbs redshirt freshman who just got his first career dual meet win over Peyton Moore in a last minute start over Eddie Ventresca, it was “surreal” to wrestle in Cassell.
“Coming up here, watching duals since I was in 5th or 6th grade, it’s something you dream of,” said Flynn. “I told Sam [Latona] when I first got out there I had to go back in the tunnel because I thought I was gonna throw up.”
Luckily for Flynn and the Virginia Tech fanbase, the No. 9 Hokies (1-1) got it done on Sunday, beating (no pun intended) No. 7 Missouri (2-2) 17-15.
Virginia Tech started out the match hot, with Flynn winning his match via major decision, and redshirt junior No. 12 Sam Laona (133 lbs) following it up with a 6-4 win over No. 26 Connor Brown to put the Hokies up 7-0. Flynn's major decision netted the Hokies the first of 2 bonus points that proved clearly valuable for Tech in taking down the Tigers.
Missouri took the next two bouts to cut the lead to 7-6, before Clayton Ulrey (157 lbs) stepped up big time for the Hokies, defeating Logan Gioffre 3-2 in place of No. 5 Bryce Andoian, who coach Tony Robie says is still dealing with an injury.
“He [Andonian] is hopefully not gonna be out too long,” said Robie. “He’s got an injury…nothing major, but he’s gotta heal to be able to get back out there and compete.”
After Ulrey’s big win, it was smooth sailing for the Hokies, who went up 17-9 on the Tigers with No. 8 Hunter Bolen adding another valuable bonus point at 184 via his 13-3 major decision over No. 23 Sean Harman.
Missouri's Elam brothers both won their matches via decision, but it was too little too late for Mizzou, who would end up dropping their second dual of the season.
One of the Hokies to win their bout was none other than No. 3 Mekhi Lewis (174 lbs) who beat No. 11 Peyton Mocco 3-2. Lewis, a 2019 national champion coming off a national runner-up season, has his sights on another individual championship, but that’s not his only goal.
“I think for me, it’s more so about helping the younger guys out,” said Lewis regarding his mindset as a leader this season. “Knowing what I know…you always wanna win a national title, but without blowing it out of proportion and obsessing over it.”
The upset dual win was a good confidence boost for the Hokies, who head to Stanford in a week to continue this stretch of out of conference duals before ACC Wrestling starts January 20th against the reigning conference champs, N.C. State.
While the Hokies have a plethora of star power on the team, the depth proved to be a big factor today, as multiple wrestlers stepped up to contribute to this win over a fellow top 10 team. But we’ll have to see if the Hokies can expand on past success and compete for not only a conference championship, but a national championship.
Here's a rundown of the results.
- 125: Cooper Flynn MAJ DEC over Peyton Moore 13-3
- 133: No. 12 Sam Latona DEC over No. 26 Connor Brown 6-4
- 141: No. 6 Allen Hart DEC over No. 15 Tom Crook 8-2
- 149: No. 9 Brock Mauller DEC over No. 12 Caleb Henson 7-5
- 157: Clayton Ulrey DEC over Logan Gioffre 3-2
- 165: No. 1 Logan O'Toole DEC over No. 22 Clayton Brady 8-4
- 174: No. 3 Makhi Lewis DEC over No. 11 Peyton Mocco 3-2
- 184: No. 8 Hunter Bolen MAJ DEC over No. 23 Sean Harman 13-3
- 197: No. 1 Rocky Elam DEC over No. 21 Andy Smith 7-0
- HWT: No. 8 Zach Elam DEC over No. 22 Hunter Catka 4-2