Mekhi Lewis Wins a National Championship; Hokies Finish 11th

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Mekhi Lewis
Mekhi Lewis made Virginia Tech history, winning a national championship in wrestling (photo via hokiesports.com)

Virginia Tech wrestler Mekhi Lewis became the first Hokies wrestler to win a national championship, knocking off two-time defending champion Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State 7-1 in the 165 pound weight class.

Lewis, just a redshirt freshman and the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, defeated the No. 1, No. 4, and No. 2 seeds to wrap up the championship. Lewis’s performance rightly earned him the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the entire NCAA Championship, which included 330 wrestlers across ten weight classes.

Lewis opened with a fall (pin) over a familiar foe, 25-seed Cam Coy of Virginia. In the next round, Lewis beat 24-seed Cael McCormick of Army, 4-1.

The next round was when the fireworks started. Mekhi Lewis beat No. 1 seed Alex Marinelli of Iowa 3-1 with a late takedown.

That advanced Lewis to the next round against No. 4 seed  Evan Wick of Wisconsin. Lewis downed Wick 5-2 to advance to the finals against No. 2 seed Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State.

Joseph, a junior, was a two-time defending national champion, and the two wrestlers stood even at 0-0 after an uneventful first period. Early in the second period, Lewis surprised Joseph with a cradle and earned a critical four-point near fall that staked Lewis to a substantial lead.

Joseph eventually got a 1-point escape to make it 4-1. Lewis pushed his lead to 5-1, and with just over 30 seconds to go, Joseph got Lewis into a compromising position, with one leg well off the floor.

What Mekhi Lewis did next was amazing, and it locked up the national championship.

From that point on, it was 25 seconds of Lewis holding Joseph on the mat while Lewis’s parents celebrated wildly in the background.

Mekhi Lewis recounted the critical four-point near fall in an interview immediately after the match.

It was the third time a Hokie had been in the national championship match of their weight class. Devin Carter (2014) and Jared Haught (2018) had previously come up short, but Mekhi Lewis left no doubt with the win, which was watched by Nation on ESPN. Everyone knows who Mekhi Lewis is now.

Virginia Tech Wrestling Finishes Eleventh Overall

Lewis’s national championship wrapped up a solid outing for the Hokies, who finished No. 11 overall, about where they were expected to end up.

  1. Penn State 137.5 points
  2. Ohio State 96.5
  3. Oklahoma State 84
  4. Iowa 76
  5. Michigan 62.5
  6. Missouri 62
  7. Cornell 59.5
  8. Minnesota 53.5
  9. Rutgers 51.5
  10. Nebraska 51
  11. Virginia Tech 50

The Hokies had a total of three All-American (top 8) wrestlers, led of course by Lewis. Tech’s other AA’s were David McFadden, who finished 5th in the 174-pound weight class, and Zack Zavatsky, who came in 8th in the 184-pound class.

McFadden’s final match had an exciting finish. Down 3-2 with 13 seconds left, McFadden executed a 2-point reversal with less than five seconds left to secure fifth place.

Of the nine Hokies who wrestled in the NCAA Championships, five will return next season.

 

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9 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Gritty outstanding performance Mekhi. Congrats to all Hokie wrestlers and coaches for building a team that is awesome and provides foundation for greater future. Go Hokies

  2. My eyes are watering watching this, what joy! Took out the reigning king with a pin which is unheard of, then as said before, treated the evil empire guy like chopped liver. No doubt, none whatsoever who the champ is.

    I’m trying to remember when we were watching the UVA match was it Lewis who got for a considerable amount of time with his opponent holding his leg up in the air like Joseph was doing? All I remember was him keeping his balance hopping on one foot like a ballerina. When most guys are probably thinking defense and how to get out of this, he had enough presence of mind to seek opportunity for the reversal. Skills.

  3. Nice article, Will. I really enjoyed watching this match tonight. Kudos to our brilliant young champion!
    I loved that he demolished that gorilla from the Evil Empire of wrestling, Penn State.

  4. With Hunter Bolen and Brent Moore expected to return from redshirting, that adds two wrestlers who were NCAA qualifiers as freshman to replenish the roster. Mekhi’s victory was a huge milestone and the future for this program is very bright.

  5. In late breaking news, Will’s wife, a Penn State grad has delicately prepared the family couch for Will’s slumber tonight.

    Great Article, and with visual aides to boot!

  6. Thank you Will for solid write up and forgive my passion by not being patient for your write up. Just very happy and excited for the kid and Hokie wrestling. My passion gets the better of me sometimes. Go Hokies!!!!!!

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