Virginia Tech has its biggest dual of the season this Friday. The No. 14 Hokies host the No. 10 NC State Wolfpack in Cassell Coliseum for a match that will decide the ACC Dual Meet championship.
These teams are used to this scenario. Over the past few seasons, they’ve finished in the top two in regular season standings and in the tournament championship score. Last season, NC State won the Dual title in Raleigh thanks to an overtime victory in the heavyweight match.
This year, Tech hosts the regular season finale, and there’s a lot at stake again. The winner will clinch at least a share of the regular season title, with UNC possibly claiming the other share if they can beat Duke.
Ahead of Friday’s top 15 match in Blacksburg, let’s take a look at some of the key bouts that will take place this weekend.
133: No. 7 Tariq Wilson vs. No. 14 Korbin Myers
Myers has put together a solid first season in Blacksburg, coming into Friday night with a record of 15-6. He’s picked up some marquee wins, including an upset over then-No. 2 Micky Phillipi in January.
He’s lost two matches since then, losing an upset to UNC’s Gary Wayne Harding before dropping a closely-contested match to Cornell’s Chas Tucker. Myers is still one of the Hokies’ top wrestlers, and he has another shot to prove himself against Wilson this week.
Wilson comes into Friday night with a 12-2 record, though he hasn't wrestled since January 25. The redshirt sophomore finished in third place in the NCAA Tournament last season, making a name for himself in his first season of competition. He should provide a challenge for Myers in the dual, but it'll be interesting to see how he looks in his return to the mat.
Regardless of where the dual starts, this match will be a big one. If the teams start at the 125 weight class, this bout will be key in setting the tone early on.
165: No. 8 Mekhi Lewis vs. Thomas Bullard
Mekhi Lewis has been the Hokies’ most dominant wrestler this season, racking up 12 bonus point victories. He’s won five straight with bonus points, dating back to a 22-7 technical fall against Lehigh in January.
The redshirt freshman from Bound Brook, N.J. has stayed constant at No. 8 in the polls, but he’s wrestling like he belongs in the top 5. His opponent this weekend is unranked in Intermat’s rankings, but has found himself at No. 20 in FloWrestling’s poll.
The redshirt sophomore qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and has gone 18-6 this season. He’s 3-5 against ranked opponents, and hasn’t been anyone ranked higher than No. 15. Looking at common opponents between Lewis and Bullard, Lewis has a higher margin of victory in ACC matches. The Hokies' 165-pounder has won bonus point victories over wrestlers from Duke, North Carolina and Virginia. Bullard's wins against the same opponents have all been by decision.
But anything can happen, especially with an ACC title on the line. Bullard and Lewis should provide seven minutes of quality action, with the winner giving their team a big boost on Friday night.
184: No. 3 Nick Reenan vs. No. 5 Zack Zavatsky
Perhaps the biggest match of the night. Virginia Tech’s redshirt senior captain vs. NC State’s sophomore standout.
Reenan missed most of January, but has gone 2-1 since he’s been back in competition. He’s 4-2 on the season against ranked opponents, most recently losing to No. 13 Nino Boaccorsi of Pittsburgh. For what it’s worth, Zavatsky beat Bonaccorsi 2-0 when they wrestled last month.
Reenan redshirted last season as Pete Renda dominated the ACC at 184 pounds. Zavatsky was able to knock off Renda in Raleigh, pulling off a 3-2 upset. He’ll have to be ready for another challenge this season, as he’s facing a higher-ranked wrestler yet again.
Zavatsky come into Friday night with a record of 21-3. He went 1-1 last weekend, losing a major decision to Cornell’s Max Dean before winning a tech fall over UVA’s Will Schany. The 2018 NCAA All-American will have his work cut out for him, but he’s had five years of experience to know what to expect.
It’s hard to express how important this match is for both programs. With a regular season title on the line, it’s the biggest dual of the season for each team. For Virginia Tech, they have a chance to get revenge for last season’s dual loss, while also sending their seniors out on a high note.
No matter how you look at it, this is a huge match, and one that every wrestling fan in the area should be in attendance for. Virginia Tech and NC State will take the mat at 7 p.m. on Friday inside Cassell Coliseum.
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics
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