Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Virginia Tech Wrestling received some surprising news today as 141 starter Mitch Moore announced that he will be leaving Virginia Tech and entering the transfer portal.
Moore was quite successful in his two seasons competing for the Hokies as he was the 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year and qualified for the 2019 and 2020 NCAA Championships. Moore also finished second in the 2019 ACC Championships, but was unable to compete in this past year's ACC Championship for medical reasons. He will have two years of eligibility remaining at his next school.
This news is definitely a major surprise as Moore was one of the Hokies' top wrestlers this past season and even earned All-American honors in our simulation of the 2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Moore would have been a top contender for the ACC title at 141 this year as well if he would have been able to compete.
Moore's departure leaves a significant vacancy in the Hokies' lineup at 141 with it being unclear how Virginia Tech may fill it.
One option could be moving Collin Gerardi up from 133 to 141, opening the door for Korbin Myers to return at 133 after missing this past season due to injury, dependent on Myers pursuing and receiving a sixth year of eligibility.
Another possibility could be one of Tech's top 2020 recruits, Sam Hillegas. Hillegas is ranked by InterMat as the fifth best 138 high school wrestler in the country and the 29th best overall 2020 wrestler by FloWrestling.
Hillegas definitely has the potential to slide in at 141 and immediately start, similar to what we saw from Bryce Andonian this past season. However, that seems unlikely at this point unless Gerardi or even the aforementioned Korbin Myers are both unable to effectively move up in weight classes to 141.
Regardless, this is definitely a tough loss for the Hokies that hurts their outlook for the 2020-21 season. Despite the loss, next year's Virginia Tech team still projects to be quite strong headlined by the likely return of Mekhi Lewis (delayed Olympics could still change things), and the #2 seed at 184 for the 2020 NCAAs, Hunter Bolen.