Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Usually during this week, we would be recapping the previous weekend’s NCAA Wrestling Championships and perhaps celebrating some of the successes of the individual wrestlers including wrestlers from the Virginia Tech Wrestling program. But as you all know by now, the sports world has come to a halt while we deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
To pass the time over this past weekend and get our wrestling fix, some have turned to what they called the “Virtual NCAAs,” a virtual tournament being held on Twitter so people could get a taste of the competition that we’re missing out on.
The owner of this account tweeted out each matchup round-by-round with how they thought it would play out. However, they didn’t have a methodology or formula for their matchups and were just going by what they thought would happen.
I decided to see how the tournament would have played out using a more scientific approach. I used WrestleStat’s comparison tool to compare each Virginia Tech wrestler to their opponent and used the predicted outcome to decide the brackets.
I didn’t look at the team score for this tournament, instead choosing to just focus on the individual athletes and how they would have fared had the tournament been held. Without further ado, here are the predicted results from the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling National Championships.
First, to set the scene. Virginia Tech had nine qualifiers at the tournament. Wrestlers qualified at the 125, 133, 141, 149, 157, 165, 174, 184 and 285 pound weight classes. Hunter Bolen was the highest seed for the Hokies at No. 2 in the 184-pound bracket. McFadden was the only other top-10 seed, coming in at No. 7 at 165 pounds.
Starting things off for the Hokies, Joey Prata, the 18th seed at 125 pounds. He takes on Old Dominion’s Killian Cardinale in the first round. Cardinale, seeded 15th, defeated Prata in a regular season dual meet 2-1. Prata gets the best of him this time around, though, winning the match 6-5. Prata has a tough test in the second round though, facing two-seed Pat Glory of Princeton. Glory takes this one by a 14-2 Major Decision.
In his first consolation match, Prata’s weekend comes to an end after an 8-7 loss to Northern Iowa’s Jacob Schwarm.
Moving on to 133 pounds. Collin Gerardi loses his first round match to Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young, sending him to the consolation bracket. There, he faces Buffalo’s Derek Spann, beating him 7-5. Gerardi’s weekend is over in the next round after a 9-5 loss to North Dakota State’s Cameron Sykora.
Mitch Moore earned the 18-seed at 141 pounds for the Hokies. In his first round matchup, he faces No. 15 Tariq Wilson of NC State, who he went 1-1 against this season. Moore takes the match by a score of 7-6.
But, as the 18-seed, he gets a tough second-round match. Moore faces the two-seed Nick Lee of Penn State, dropping the match by a score of 9-5.
Moore falls into the consolation bracket, but he fights his way through the wrestlebacks, picking up a major decision against Missouri’s Grant Leeth along the way. Facing Iowa State’s Ian Parker in the bloodround, Moore picks up a close 6-5 decision to earn All-American honors. He’ll lose his next two matches to Tristan Moran and Max Murin, but he places eighth in the tournament, giving the Hokies their first All-American of 2020.
In Bryce Andonian’s first NCAA Championship appearance, he earns the 20-seed. Andonian’s weekend doesn’t last long as he loses two tough matches to Northern Iowa’s Max Thomsen and Navy’s Jared Prince to knock him out of the tournament.
B.C. LaPrade’s first-round match against Princeton’s Quincy Monday doesn’t go so well, and he gets sent to the consolation bracket. LaPrade bounces back with a win over Central Michigan’s Logan Parks, but his tournament ends Saturday morning with a loss to Purdue’s Kendall Coleman.
In David McFadden’s final NCAA Tournament experience, he earned the 7-seed at 165 pounds. His first-round match goes well, with a 10-4 decision over Michigan State’s Drew Hughes. The second round brings a rematch against NC State’s Thomas Bullard, who McFadden went 1-1 against this season. The Hokies senior takes this match by a score of 7-4, moving on to the quarterfinals Saturday morning.
Awaiting him is two-seed and two-time champion Vincenzo Joseph. Joseph proves too much for McFadden to handle, and defeats him 7-4.
With his loss, McFadden is sent to the bloodround on Friday evening. He faces Campbell’s Quentin Perez, defeating him 8-4 and becoming Virginia Tech’s first four-time All-American. McFadden continues to fight his way through the consolation bracket, eventually facing Stanford’s No. 3 Shane Griffith in the third-place match. Griffith takes the bout 6-5, but McFadden places fourth, his best-ever showing at the tournament.
Senior Cody Hughes makes his first tournament appearance and gets a really tough draw. He faces two-seed Michael Kemerer of Iowa in the first round, losing by 15-4 major decision.
In his first consolation match, he drops a 7-4 decision to Army’s Ben Harvey, ending his All-American hopes.
Hunter Bolen represented the Hokies best shot to win a title in 2020, coming in as the two-seed behind Northern Iowa’s Taylor Lujan. He starts his tournament out strong with a pair of decisions to advance to the quarterfinals.
A matchup with Nebraska’s Taylor Venz proves too much for the Virginia native though, and he drops the match 8-6.
Bolen bounces back with a win over Lehigh’s Chris Weiler to earn All-American honors, but he loses his next match to Iowa’s Abe Assad and gets sent to the seventh-place match.
His opponent is Michigan State’s Cameron Caffey. They battle it out in a close one, with Bolen prevailing 7-6 and claiming seventh place in his second NCAA Tournament.
The final wrestler competing for the Hokies is heavyweight John Borst. He faces Campbell’s Jere Heino in the first round, losing the match 6-5. Borst does well in the consolation bracket, winning two straight matches to make it to the first consolation round of eight.
There, his tournament comes to an end as he drops a decision to Utah Valley’s Tate Orndorff.
Not a bad showing for the Hokies by any means as the team came away with three All-Americans. Moore and McFadden both placed above their seed, with 18-seed Moore taking eighth place and 7-seed McFadden taking fourth.
Bolen had championship hopes, but a couple of tough matches forced him to settle for seventh place.
The two freshmen, Gerardi and Andonian, have some improvements to make in their next NCAA Championships appearance, but they’ve got three years left to make those adjustments.
While the Hokies didn’t place in the top-10 in team score, it was another solid showing for a couple of their talented wrestlers.
Of course, none of these are official results or really mean anything, but in today’s world with no sports and no championships, we’ll have to take what we can get to get our fix.