After winning the national title as a freshman in 2019 at 165, Mekhi Lewis hasn't even had a chance to wrestle on the national stage since then. While the 2020 championships were canceled in a year where Lewis was taking an Olympic redshirt, injuries forced Lewis to medically withdraw from the 2021 NCAAs.
Now back healthy, Lewis is wrestling like a man on a mission and put on one of the finest performances of his career last night.
The second-seeded Lewis faced off in a tremendous battle against 174's 3 seed Logan Massa of Michigan that was all tied with both wrestlers standing inside the final minute of the third period. That set the stage for a scramble for the ages that ended with Lewis landing a pin on Massa to book his ticket to the final, leading to some understandably incredible scenes of jubilation for Lewis jumping into the arms of head coach Tony Robie and assistant/former Hokie standout Jared Haught right after the pin.
MEKHI LEWISSSS WITH THE FALLLLL!!!!!— Virginia Tech Wrestling (@HokiesWrestling) March 19, 2022
QUIT PLAYING WITH HIM!!!
MEKHI LEWIS IS BACK TO THE FINALS!!! pic.twitter.com/e38H6wjdi6
That's the joy of a man who has been through a lot over the past couple years dealing with injuries and adjusting to a new weight class after taking over 165 in his first season on the national level as a freshman. Lewis has been writing a legacy as one of the greatest athletes in the history of Virginia Tech Athletics and continues to climb higher on the list with another clutch performance on the biggest stage.
Now, the stage is set for arguably the match of the night this evening as the 2019 165 national champ and 2022 174 ACC champ faces the #1 Carter Starocci of Penn State in a match that Lewis is definitely not an underdog and could potentially be viewed as a favorite given that he knows what it takes to win a national title on the single mat in front of 17,000+ in the arena and millions watching on ESPN.
Lewis wasn't the only Hokie to reach the semifinals as Bryce Andonian as an 11 seed reached the semis after pulling a pair of upsets along the way. Andonian faced 10 seed Ridge Lovett of Nebraska who put on a wildly entertaining match with Lovett landing the final reversal in the third period to win it with Andonian coming just short of pulling off a late defensive pin to win.
With the loss, Andonian now will have the chance to wrestle his way to third and will start by facing Jonathan Millner of Appalachian State, the 6 seed and former All-American who he beat earlier in this tournament.
Meanwhile, Korbin Myers and Sam Latona were still alive entering last night and only needed one win to earn All-American honors. Latona, the 24 seed at 125, was up first against 6 seed Evan Barnett of Wisconsin and though Latona fought hard, his tremendous run ended just short with Barnett picking up a 5-1 victory ending Latona's strong NCAAs.
Korbin Myers followed Latona and in his last NCAAs, put up a big time performance to beat 26 seed Matt Ramos of Purdue with a dominant 12-2 major decision victory to become the Hokies' third All-American and earn his second career All-American honors. He followed that up with a 6-2 victory over 11 seed Devan Turner of Oregon State to guarantee that he will finish no worst than 6th needing only two wins to finish 3rd.
Thanks largely to Lewis, the Hokies are in good shape for a top 10 finish currently as they are 7th in the team score while they reached the three All-American minimum mark for the ninth-straight season which has only been done by Penn State, Iowa, Oklahoma State, and Cornell.
The stage is set tonight for Lewis to make it 2-for-2 national titles while Andonian and Myers have great chances ahead of them to wrestle their way up the final leaderboard and bring home some more valuable team points for the Hokies in what has been a solid trip to Detroit so far for Virginia Tech.