Virginia Tech Wrestling’s quest to win its third-straight ACC Championship came up short Saturday, as the Hokies finished second to NC State. 3,742 fans attended the event at Cassell Coliseum.
Here’s the team scoring:
- 93.5 – NC State
- 86 – Virginia Tech
- 47.5 – UNC
- 41 – Pittsburgh
- 39 – Duke
- 27.5 – Virginia
Going strictly by seeding, Virginia Tech was favored to win the championship, but a few NC State wrestlers pulled upsets along the way, and in the matchups where the two teams faced each other, NC State went 4-2 against the Hokies.
Eight of the Hokies’ ten wrestlers “wrestled to their seed” and finished where they were seeded, including three champions: Mekhi Lewis at 165, David McFadden at 174, and Zack Zavatsky at 184. At 133 pounds, fourth-seeded Korbin Myers finished third, but at 197 pounds, second-seeded Tom Sleigh finished third.
The title for Zavatasky, a redshirt senior, was his third, making him the sixth Hokie with three or more ACC titles, joining Joey Dance, Jesse Dong, Nick Brascetta, Jarrod Garnett and Devin Carter. McFadden’s championship was his second; a redshirt junior, he’ll be back for a try at a third title next year. Lewis is a redshirt freshman, so his title was his first.
Sleigh’s situation was pivotal. Wrestling in the semi-finals against third-seeded Malik McDonald of NC State, Sleigh was locked in a 2-2 battle as time ran down in the third period and overtime loomed. But Sleigh was called for stalling with 14 seconds left to go, awarding a point to McDonald and effectively ending the match, as there wasn’t enough time for Sleigh to get a takedown (Go to the 3:15:45 mark of this linked video). Boos rained down from the Cassell Crowd when the match ended.
Not only did that loss knock Sleigh down to an eventual third-place finish, but McDonald went on to win the weight class, finishing two spots above his seed. Third-seeded Thomas Bullard came in second at 165 for the Wolfpack, and fifth-seeded Deonte Wilson came in fourth at 285, as all ten Wolfpack wrestlers wrestled to their seed or above it. In the end, that was all it took for the Wolfpack to eke out the win and end Virginia Tech’s run of championships at two straight.
Nine of the Hokies’ ten wrestlers automatically qualified for the NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 21-23 in Pittsburgh. The only exception was Joey Prata at 125 pounds, and he’ll wait to see if he gets an at-large bid.
Enjoy these photos, taken by Ivan Morozov and Brian Wells.