The NCAA wrestling season got underway last weekend, and Virginia Tech has already seen some success on the mat. Tech hosted the Hokie Open on Nov. 4 in Roanoke, competing against 17 other schools in the annual tournament. In this Hokie Wrestling Notebook, we’ll get into that plus more notes from around the program.
15 wrestlers place, two win championships at Hokie Open
Due to the nature of the Hokie Open, a tournament in which wrestlers can represent their school or wrestle unattached, Virginia Tech had a high number of competitors. That in turn resulted in more success, as 15 wrestlers were able to place in their weight class last Sunday. Eight of those wrestlers reached the finals, including Zack Zavastky, Hunter Bolen and Ryan Blees, who all competed in the open division. Joey Prata, Collin Gerardi and Josh Baier all reached the finals at their weight in the freshman/sophomore division.
Freshman Mekhi Lewis won the 165-pound weight class in the open division, defeating No. 18 Bryce Martin of Indiana 8-6 in the finals to win the title. Mitch Moore joined him as the other champion for the Hokies, winning the 141-pound title in the freshman/sophomore division. Moore beat three ACC opponents in the tournament, including a pin over UVA’s Gray Hart in the semifinals.
Zavatsky and Bolen were set to face each other in the finals of the 184-pound weight class, but decided not to wrestle the match. Bolen was able to pick up a win over UNC’s Chip Ness, who is ranked No. 7 in the country.
Battle at 125
Redshirt sophomore Joey Prata beat Kyle Norstrem in the intrasquad match last month, using a third period takedown to clinch a 3-2 decision. Prata and Norstrem faced off again at the Hokie Open, with Prata winning the second matchup between the two.
The two Hokies met in the semifinals of the freshman/sophomore division, with Prata again winning 3-2. He scored a takedown in the first period and an escape in the second period to defeat Norstrem for the second time.
With those two victories, it seems as if Prata has the starting spot at 125 locked up. We’ll find out for sure when Tech begins its dual season this weekend at Missouri.
McFadden ready for U23 Worlds
As David McFadden gets ready for his junior season at Virginia Tech, the two-time All-American has an idea of how he’d like to start the season.
“For me to start my season out with a world title would be amazing and hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish that,” McFadden said. “It made my training go through the roof again, because it basically is another national tournament. It’s the world championships. How awesome is that? I get to compete in that. I’m pumped.”
McFadden looks to continue Virginia Tech’s recent success on the international stage when he competes in the U23 World Championships this week in Romania. He will hope to join the likes of Ty Walz and Mekhi Lewis and bring a medal back to Blacksburg.
The redshirt junior from West Milford, N.J. has been training for the international competition all summer. While his teammates are preparing for duals against Missouri and Northwestern, he spends time practicing for the best wrestlers in the world.
He’s received some help from Lewis, who recently won a gold medal at the Junior World Championships.
“He inspired me to get back on the mat, to get my focus back and go out,” McFadden said of Lewis. “I ended up winning trials and then we trained alongside, side by side with each other.”
McFadden will begin his quest for a world title when the freestyle competition begins in Bucharest this weekend.
Hokies pick up big commitments on signing day
Wednesday was national signing day for Division I sports, and the Hokies picked up a couple of highly-touted wrestlers. Virginia Tech received five commitments, including a Top 10 wrestler in FloWrestling’s recruit rankings.
Connor Brady is the highlight of the class so far at the 152-pound weight class. Brady is from Powell, Ohio and ranked No. 9 overall and No. 2 in his weight class according to FloWrestling. Among Brady’s highlights from his young career is a championship at the 2018 Super 32 tournament.
Joining Brady from Ohio is Bryce Andonian, a two-time Ohio state champion and 2018 Fargo champion. Andonian is from Kirtland, Ohio and is ranked No. 20 overall and No. 4 in the 145-pound weight class by FloWrestling.
The rest of the Hokies’ 2019 class includes two-time Fargo champion Sam Latona (the brother of current Hokie Dominic Latona), 2018 placer in Pennsylvania and at Fargo Dan Mancini, and three-time Virginia state champion Brandon Wittenberg.
Hokies begin dual season this weekend
Virginia Tech travels to Missouri and Northwestern this weekend to begin the 2018-19 dual season. The Hokies will take on No. 7 Missouri on Friday before facing No. 25 Northwestern on Sunday.
Virginia Tech has wrestled Missouri each of the past two seasons and has not been able to pick up a win over the Tigers. Tech will be down a man during this year’s dual, as McFadden will be competing in the U23 World Championships at the time.
The Northwestern match could prove tough as well, as the Wildcats have wrestlers ranked in the 125, 157, 174 and heavyweight classes.
The Hokies’ match against Missouri will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and the dual at Northwestern will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics