Everyone likes a good redemption story. On Saturday night in Chapel Hill, Brent Moore gave us that narrative as he helped guide Virginia Tech to an ACC Championship.
Moore, the 2-seed in the 141 weight class, dominated his semifinal match. He earned an 11-2 major decision over UNC’s A.C. Headlee to advance to the finals. His opponent there was a familiar one.
NC State’s Kevin Jack, the 1-seed in the 141 weight class, defeated Moore 15-0 two weeks ago in Raleigh.
But Moore was ready this time around.
The top-seeded wrestlers made it through the first period without scoring a point, but Jack was quick to change that in the second. Starting on bottom, he quickly scored a reversal to take a 2-0 lead. Moore escaped to narrow the deficit, but Jack took him down before the period ended to take a 4-1 lead.
Moore started the second period on bottom and escaped before the riding time could hit one minute. With 20 seconds left, Moore scored a takedown to tie the match 4-4.
Following a stalemate call in the sudden victory overtime period, Moore took Jack down with four seconds on the clock to claim the ACC title at 141 pounds.
Moore’s stunning victory over the top-seeded Jack, who is also the No. 5 wrestler in the country, earned him the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler award, but he was far from the only star for the Hokies.
Six other Virginia Tech wrestlers made it to the championship round, with Dennis Gustafson, David McFadden and Jared Haught all coming out on top.
Second-seeded Dennis Gustafson pulled out a narrow victory over UVA’s Jack Mueller. Mueller had the lead as time wound down, but Gustafson scored a takedown and near fall that gave him the 10-7 decision and gave Virginia Tech its first champion of the night.
After Moore won at 141, David McFadden was the next Hokie to take home the gold. McFadden put on a clinic in his match, dominating Duke’s Zach Finesilver to claim a 22-9 major decision.
Perhaps the most exciting match of the entire tournament was Jared Haught’s final against NC State’s Michael Macchivaello. In another rematch from last month’s dual, the top-seeded Haught tied the match 1-1 with an escape in the third period. After neither wrestler was able to score a takedown, the match went into overtime.
The match went into three tiebreaker periods before Haught was able to score a reversal to take a 6-3 lead. After a challenge by NC State, the call was confirmed and Haught held on for the final seconds to take the decision and clinch the ACC Tournament Championship for the Hokies.
Ryan Blees, Hunter Bolen and Zack Zavatsky all made it to the final round for Virginia Tech, but none were able to claim a championship. Had Zavatsky won, he would have joined 28 other wrestlers to win three straight ACC championships in the same weight class.
Kyle Norstrem, BC LaPrade, and Andrew Dunn were each eliminated after losing their first two matches. Dunn still qualified for the NCAA Tournament, however, as the 285 class is sending five wrestlers to nationals and Duke’s Ryan Solomon had to forfeit due to injury. The Hokies will send eight wrestlers to the national tournament in Cleveland, which will be held March 15-17th.
Going into the championship round, the Hokies had a four-point team lead over NC State. NC State won three matches in the finals, but Tech’s performance was enough to avenge the regular season loss to the Wolfpack.
Virginia Tech won its second straight ACC Championship and fourth overall. Head coach Tony Robie claimed his second ACC title in his first full year on the job. Robie said the team will take some time to cherish the victory, but they’ll get to work preparing for nationals soon.
ACC Championship Team Scores:
- Virginia Tech 81
- NC State 73
- North Carolina 52.5
- Duke 47.5
- Virginia 34
- Pitt 33.5
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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