Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Wrestling
The future for Virginia Tech Wrestling looks brighter than ever largely because of the impressive recruiting job Tony Robie has done since taking over as the Hokies' head coach. That included an impressive 2019 class which was considered a consensus top 5 class in the country.
Now, those wrestlers are in their true freshmen seasons with some redshirt and wrestling unattached, and at least one gaining some starting opportunities in dual meets for the Hokies.
In it all, Tech's talented 2019 class has already shown the immense potential that their top 5 ranking suggested.
It starts with Bryce Andonian at 149.
The Kirtland, Ohio native has gone from two-time state champion to rising collegiate talent at 149 going 11-2 so far this season. That includes filling in for Brent Moore the past 2 dual meets and stepping up with a pair of victories over Chattanooga's Tanner Smith and Central Michigan's Corbyn Munson.
Andonian hasn't been perfect this season, but he's shown lots of potential taking risks and able to get lots of points as he showed with a reversal and four-point nearfall in his match with Munson this past weekend. It takes time for freshmen to adapt to the collegiate level, and Andonian appears to be adapting now and earning dual meet opportunities in the process.
Sam Latona may be redshirting, but the 125 freshman can still wrestle unattached at tournaments and has been impressive when he has done so.
Overall, Latona has arguably been the most impressive of the freshman class to date with a 17-2 record this season with his only losses coming against Oklahoma State's Nick Piccininni, the #4 125 wrestler in America, and Zurich Storm of Campbell. More impressive is the fact that Latona has won titles at the Southeast Open and Patriot Open in his respective decisions while finishing third place at the prestigious Southern Scuffle, one of the best in-season tournaments.
Latona also beat some talented 125 wrestlers during his run at the Southern Scuffle including NC State's starting 125er Jakob Camacho and Navy's Logan Treaster who's ranked #20 in the latest rankings at 125.
The biggest name in the class entering the season was Connor Brady who was the #9 overall recruit in the country by FloWrestling. Brady hasn't wrestled much recently for unknown reasons, but has been impressive when he has during his redshirt season.
Brady started the season off in a big way by upsetting Tech's own B.C. LaPrade, now ranked #19 at 157, at Tech's Orange-Maroon wrestle-offs that happen before the season. That was the first sign of the potential Brady had with Brady going 9-2 at the Southeast and Wolfpack Opens.
His two losses came against experienced senior wrestlers at those events, something that can happen as a young wrestler adjusts to the collegiate wrestling competition. Overall though, Brady has looked the part in limited action and there is no reason to believe he can't reach his maximum potential.
The star trio of Conner Brady, Bryce Andonian, and Sam Latona arrived at Virginia Tech with plenty of belief that they could be foundational to Tech building a regular team national title contender. So far, they're only fanning the flames of excitement surrounding their potential.