The 133-pound weight class has been a mess this season, and on Friday night in Cassell Coliseum, it only got messier. No. 14 Korbin Myers upset No. 2 Micky Phillippi as Virginia Tech rolled to a 27-6 victory against Pittsburgh.
The upset decision by Myers added to the chaos that has gone on in his weight class during this NCAA wrestling season, which includes Phillippi defeating then-No. 2 Daton Fix last Saturday. Phillippi lost earlier in the season to Rutgers’ Nick Suriano, who lost to Fix a few weeks ago.
Most people probably didn’t expect Myers to make any noise in the mayhem that is the 133-pound weight class, but Hokies’ head coach Tony Robie did.
“Really pleased with how Korbin wrestled. Really, really pleased,” Robie said after the match. “I think Korbin’s got a ton of confidence right now. I felt good about that match coming into it, I really did. I told a lot of people that I felt like we had a good chance at winning that match and I felt like Korbin executed the game plan tremendously.”
Myers’ victory, along with a 6-1 decision by Joey Prata to kick things off, helped set the tone for the dual meet in Blacksburg. 3,187 fans packed themselves into Cassell to cheer on their Hokies in the first ACC dual of the season, and they made their impact felt in the first two matches.
“I think our fans had a good appetite for wrestling,” Robie said. “We’ve only been home once this year and it’s been a long time. I think it’s indicative of just the fan base and the following that we’ve been able to create here.”
The fans had a lot to cheer for in Myers’ match. The transfer from Edinboro took the lead on a takedown in the second period, but Phillippi tied things up going into the third. A locked hands violation gave Myers a 3-2 lead, but as time ticked down, Phillippi was close to earning the riding time point.
It took a late reversal to give Myers the 5-2 lead he needed to win the match and upset one of the hottest wrestlers in the country. His win helped set the stage for the Hokies as the team won eight of ten matches on the night.
After Prata and Myers, six more Hokies picked up victories, including four of the Hokies’ ranked upper weight wrestlers. The only weights where the team was unable to secure wins were 157 and 285.
Despite the domination and the impression that the score might give, Robie had some issues with the way the team competed.
“To be quite honest with you, I don’t feel like we wrestled nearly as well as we’re capable of wrestling at some weight classes and we had some matches that were way closer than they needed to be,” Robie said. “we had some guys not finish matches the way that they need to finish matches.”
While the Hokies did win the majority of the matches and dominated the team score, a lot of their victories were close. Highly-ranked wrestlers such as Mekhi Lewis, David McFadden and Zack Zavatsky were unable to show their usually dominant performances. Zavatsky won his match 2-0, while Lewis earned a 6-3 decision. McFadden’s margin of victory was the highest out of the three, winning by four points.
None of the Hokies’ wrestlers were able to earn bonus points, except for Mitch Moore, who won by forfeit at 141 pounds.
“I just didn’t like the overall aggressiveness of our team,” Robie said. “I felt like we went out there and we took the foot off the gas in some places and that was disappointing to me.”
The team doesn’t have much time to fix those issues, either. They’ll head to Pennsylvania on Saturday for a dual against Lehigh this Sunday, giving them precious time to work on any points of focus.
“There’s not a lot you can do between now and Lehigh except talk about it,” Robie said. “I think just overall, we’ve got to keep preaching the style of wrestling that we want to wrestle and what it’s going to take to win at the national tournament and what it’s going to take to beat the best guys in the country.”
Even with the lack of aggressiveness in tonight’s match, Robie is still feeling confident going forward with his team.
“I guess it’s a little bittersweet,” he said. “I feel good about how good I think we can be but I don’t feel good about the way we performed tonight.”
As for the guy who knocked off the No. 2 wrestler in the country, he’s especially got something going right.
“He just keeps getting better and better and better and I think he’s believing in himself now more than he ever has,” Robie said about Myers. “[I’m] excited about Korbin Myers and what he brings to our team and what he’s capable of doing down the stretch of this season.”
The Hokies will take on Lehigh on Pennsylvania at 2 p.m. on Sunday. They’ll be back at home Friday, Feb. 15 against Cornell.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics