The 2016-17 Virginia Tech Wrestling schedule has been released. Here’s an in-depth look at it.
2016-17 Virginia Tech Wrestling Schedule
|6-Nov-16||Hokie Open||Blacksburg, VA|
|13-Nov-16||University of Tennessee Chattanooga||Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg, VA|
|18-Nov-16||at University of Northern Iowa||Cedar Falls, IA|
|20-Nov-16||at University of Missouri||Columbia, MO|
|2-Dec-16||at Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational||Las Vegas, NV|
|3-Dec-16||at Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational||Las Vegas, NV|
|16-Dec-16||at West Virginia||Morgantown, WV|
|6-Jan-17||at Princeton||Princeton, NJ|
|8-Jan-17||at North Carolina||Chapel Hill, NC|
|13-Jan-17||at Virginia Duals||Norfolk, VA|
|14-Jan-17||at Virginia Duals||Norfolk, VA|
|27-Jan-17||at Lehigh||Bethlehem, PA|
|11-Feb-17||NC State||Blacksburg, VA|
|19-Feb-17||NWCA National Duals||Blacksburg, VA|
At first glance, the Hokies will be true road warriors this year, with one home dual in November, followed by two straight months on the road, before returning to the confines of Cassell Coliseum. This gap will test the Hokies as they build cohesion and chemistry for another magical run in March.
The non-conference slate is highlighted by Missouri (Nov 20th), who finished last season in 6th place in NYC in the 2016 NCAA wrestling championship. Prior to their loss in January of last season, Missouri had held a 37 match regular season dual win streak, dating back to January 2014, and the road contest will test the Hokies early.
To complement the marquee matchup with Missouri, Tech welcomes PA power Edinboro (Nov 5th), two years removed from their 4th place finish at NCAAs, and also visits perennial powerhouse Lehigh (Jan 27th). Fans will remember both teams qualified for the NWCA National Duals last season and will likely compete to do so again this year.
Additionally, up-and-comers UNI (Nov 18th) and Princeton (Jan 6th) host the Hokies. Hokie fans will recognize Princeton assistant coach Sean Gray, a Virginia Tech legend, who helped earn the Tigers their first NCAA All-American in 13 years last March. UNI head coach Doug Schwab also has Hokie ties, serving as an assistant coach for Tech during the Tom Brands administration. His wife, Allyson Schwab, is also a Hokie alum, who played for the VT softball team during her time at Tech.
Tech meets up with regional opponent VMI (Nov 5th) after a few years hiatus, a good sign for the growth of VA wrestling. Lastly, Tech keeps rival WVU (Dec 16th) on the schedule, making a return trip to Morgantown in an effort to replicate last year’s drubbing of the Mountaineers.
Virginia Tech will again take the stage in the Moss Arts Center, hosting the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (Nov 13th). After the offseason coaching changes, I’m excited to welcome back VT great Dave Hoffman (now an assistant at UTC) and give him the thank you and send off he deserves. UTC continues to surge in the SOCON and missed winning a championship last season by a half point, falling to Appalachian State. This should be a great test for the Hokies, and presents an awesome stage for the team to shine early in the season.
With the unbalanced 4-1 rotation for the ACC scheduling, the Hokies find themselves a frequent host in January and February. Tech will only be on the road once in conference, visiting a UNC (Jan 8th) squad bolstered by the coaching addition of USA wrestling world team member Tony Ramos.
At home, VT will first host Pitt (Jan 20th) and UVA (Jan 22nd) in one weekend followed by NC State (Feb 11th) and Duke (Feb 12th). With the performance by both Tech and NCSU last year, expect the ACC dual championship to come down to the final weekend bout between the two.
Virginia Tech will again attend its traditional tournaments. First is Las Vegas at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec 2nd-3rd) and later here in the Commonwealth at the Virginia Duals (Jan 13th-14th). The Las Vegas field is usually exceptionally deep and Tech can expect to see multiple Big Ten squads not listed on the schedule. For Virginia Duals, Tech may draw even more high end competition, particularly if Arizona State or Iowa State attend as they have in years past.
For a second consecutive year however, a holiday tournament – either the Midlands in Evanston, Illinois or the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tennessee – is absent on the Hokies schedule. Last season head coach Kevin Dresser expressed a desire to rest his athletes, allowing them to heal up and perform in the classroom during winter exams. That produced Tech’s best ever 4th place finish nationally, and it appears Dresser will again employ this strategy, giving the Hokies one dual in the stretch from Dec 3rd to Jan 6th.
Finally, this year, the NWCA National Duals will be hosted by non-Big Ten teams. Provided Tech wins the ACC or is selected as an at-large team, Tech will also host an NWCA National Dual in Blacksburg on February 19th.
Overall, this is an incredibly difficult schedule for the Hokies. Expect 9+ of the currently listed 13 teams to be top 25 opponents. Should the Hokies successfully navigate the schedule undefeated, there is a very high chance the Hokies will be wrestling for the NWCA Dual National Championship in February. Also, get your tickets for the Moss Arts Center early! I expect the November 13th dual will sell out quickly, with the overlapping Nov 12th home football game with Georgia Tech. Go Hokies!