Virginia Tech continued its monster 2018-19 schedule at the Southern Scuffle this week, where the Hokies placed ninth in the team score with 48.5 points. Five competitors placed while Hunter Bolen was the highlight of the No. 12 team in the country, taking second place at 184 pounds.
Bolen, who was competing unattached, dominated his first three matches of the tournament. He won his first two bouts each by a score of 11-3. His third victory was a first period pin against Appalachian State’s Alan Clothier.
A couple of close wins in the quarters and semis sent Bolen to the finals, the only Hokie in the tournament to make it to that stage. There, he faced off against Penn State’s Shakur Rasheed, who won the match 4-1.
Bolen’s performance continues his impressive redshirt year as he made the finals at the Hokie Open on Nov. 4 to begin the season. The 184-pounder was named ACC Freshman of the Year last season, but is redshirting during the 2018-19 season while Zack Zavatsky wrestles his senior season at the same weight class.
Other Hokies to place in Chattanooga include David McFadden and Tom Sleigh, who each placed third in their respective weight classes. McFadden started off strong with a tech fall and an 18-5 major decision, but fell into the consolation bracket after an 11-4 loss to Oklahoma State’s Joe Smith.
The U23 World Team member fought back in the consi bracket, winning back-to-back matches to claim third place at 174 pounds.
Sleigh worked his way through the bracket at 197 pounds before colliding with Penn State’s Bo Nickal in the quarterfinals. The No. 1 wrestler in the country was able to pin Sleigh in the first period to send him to the consolation bracket. Sleigh mimicked McFadden’s success in the wrestlebacks, winning two straight matches to claim third place in his class.
Sleigh scored three takedowns and two escapes in the third place match while also earning the riding time point to defeat Dakota Greer of Oklahoma State. The win also marked the 100th career victory for Sleigh, and his 12th as a Hokie.
Heavyweight Billy Miller and 133-pounder Collin Gerardi round out the Hokies’ placers as they placed sixth and seventh in their respective weight classes. Miller started things off with a 17-2 tech fall, but eventually lost in overtime in the quarterfinals. He won two dominating matches in the consolation bracket before dropping consecutive matches to place sixth in the heavyweight class.
Gerardi, a freshman who was competing unattached, made some noise in the 133-pound bracket. He won his first two matches of the tournament to set up a quarterfinals bout against Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young, a highly-touted freshman who is ranked No. 15 at 133.
The match went into overtime, where Bravo-Young scored a takedown to take the victory. The loss sent Gerardi to the consolation bracket, where he eventually wrestled for seventh place, defeating Nick Farro of Lehigh.
The tournament was a solid showing for the Hokies, who did not have their entire team competing and managed to pull off some big victories. Some of the best teams in the country, including Penn State, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, were in attendance at the Southern Scuffle.
One thing to note from this week’s competition, some of the Hokies’ best wrestlers were not at the tournament. Korbin Myers, Mekhi Lewis and Zack Zavatsky, all of whom are ranked in the top 15 of their weight classes, did not wrestle.
Head coach Tony Robie said last month that the coaching staff wasn’t planning on taking a full team to the Southern Scuffle and that some wrestlers would be competing in the Franklin & Marshall Open this Saturday. It’s possible those wrestlers could be competing in this tournament, which begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and is hosted by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.
For the rest of the team, they’ll return to action at the Virginia Duals in Hampton on Jan. 11 and 12.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics