Virginia Tech lost their final dual meet of the season as well as a share of the ACC Dual Meet Championship, falling to NC State 17-16 on criteria.
Each team won five of ten weight classes, and each team had a major decision (worth four points instead of three), leaving them tied at 16 when the wrestling was done. The tiebreaker came down to total points, which NC State led 52-47, giving the Wolfpack the victory and a share of the ACC dual meet title with North Carolina at 4-1. The Hokies finished at 3-2, with losses to NC State and UNC.
This matchup was billed to be dead even, and it was. The crowd of 4,197 at Cassell Coliseum was the largest of the season and one of the largest in program history, falling short of the 5,097 that witnessed Tech wrestle Penn State in November of 2015. Unfortunately, Hokie fans went home disappointed, as the Wolfpack wrestlers and coaches took postgame photos on the Cassell Coliseum floor with the dual meet trophy.
The wrestling started at the 184 point weight class, with arguably the premier matchup of the meet, and Tech’s Zack Zavatsky, ranked No. 5 in the country, dominated NC State’s No. 4 Nick Reenan. Reenan was wearing a large leg brace and didn’t appear to be close to a hundred percent, but it was a big win and a good start nonetheless.
The Hokies followed up with wins at 197 by Tom Sleigh and Heavyweight by Billy Miller. Miller registered a major decision (10-2), and the Hokies were off to 10-0 lead.
That’s when things got ugly for a while. NC State won the next five weight classes, including a major decision at the 125 pound class, and the Wolfpack took a 16-10 lead heading into the final two weight classes, where the Hokies were favored.
The most exciting match of the night came at 157, when unranked BC LaPrade for the Hokies gave No. 4 Hayden Hidlay all he could handle. LaPrade led 4-3 going into the final period, and Hidlay tied it at four points on an escape. The match appeared to be headed to sudden victory, but Hidlay surprised LaPrade with a takedown with two seconds left to win 6-4.
At 165, No. 8 Mekhi Lewis for the Hokies was on the verge of a major decision that would have swung things the Hokies’ way, but a takedown for Lewis was challenged and overturned. Lewis wound up winning 11-5, but with the takedown, it would have been a 13-5 major decision, and the Hokies would have had an extra point that would have made the difference in the meet.
As it was, Tech trailed 16-13, and they closed out with a decision by David McFadden at 174 pounds that tied it at 16, and NC State won on criteria.
The Hokies now look ahead to the ACC Championship tournament in Blacksburg on Saturday, March 9. Last year, Virginia Tech lost the dual meet title to NC State but went on to win the tournament championship, and Tech wrestlers and fans are hoping for a repeat this year.
ACC Championship tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.
Virginia Tech Wrestling vs NC State Results
184: #5 Zack Zavatsky (VT) dec. #4 Nick Reenan, 6-2, VT leads 3-0
197: #9 Tom Sleigh (VT) dec. Malik McDonald, 3-2, VT leads 6-0
285: #20 Billy Miller (VT) MD Colin Lawler, 10-2, VT leads 10-0
125: #11 Sean Fausz (NCSU) MD Joey Prata, 11-0, VT leads 10-4
133: #7 Tariq Wilson (NCSU) dec. #14 Korbin Myers, 6-1, VT leads 10-7
141: Jamel Morris (NCSU) dec. Mitch Moore, 4-0, tied at 10
149: #8 Justin Oliver (NCSU) dec. Ryan Blees, 6-3, NC State leads 13-10
157: #4 Hayden Hidlay (NCSU) dec. B.C. LaPrade, 6-4, NC State leads 16-10
165: #8 Mekhi Lewis dec. Thomas Bullard, 11-5, NC State leads 16-13
174: #7 David McFadden dec. Daniel Bullard, 9-8, tied at 16, NC State wins 17-16 on criteria (52-47 on points)
Virginia Tech Wrestling Notes from hokiesports.com
The Hokies finish the dual meet season with a 9-5 overall record and a 3-2 mark in ACC duals.
Tech is now 0-2 in matches decided on by criteria this season after falling to ninth-ranked Cornell, 17-16, on third criteria last week.
Friday saw the final matches in Cassell for seniors Ryan Blees, Zack Zavatsky, Tom Sleigh and Billy Miller.
Three of the four seniors earned victories with Billy Miller winning a 10-2 major decision at heavyweight.
Zavatsky’s 6-2 decision over third-ranked Nick Reenan at 184 pounds was his 103rd career.
Zavatsky finishes his career with a record of 60-5 in duals, a winning percentage that ranks sixth all-time in program history.
At 157 pounds, B.C. LaPrade had fourth-ranked Hayden Hidlay on the ropes but Hidlay clinched a 6-4 decision on a last second takedown at the buzzer that put the Wolfpack ahead 16-10 in the dual.
Tom Sleigh’s 3-2 decision at 197 was his 108th career win and 50th dual meet victory