No. 7 Virginia Tech wrestling (11-1, 2-1) dominated Duke (0-14, 0-3) on Saturday night in Moss Arts Center on its way to a 46-3 win in the Hokies’ last home dual meet of the season.
“Guys just went out and attacked and when you go out and attack, good things happen,” said Tony Robie, head coach. “Obviously, in some cases, I think they were outmatched, but you still have to have the right mindset and I think that’s what tonight was about; guys went out there with the mindset to dominate.”
The Hokies were up 12-0 before even stepping onto the mat due to two forfeits from the Blue Devils at 125 and 141 pounds. From there, the Hokies never looked back, earning bonus points in each of the first three matches
The match started fast with a pin from Collin Gerardi at 133 pounds in 6:03. Bryce Andonian almost followed that up with a pin at 149 pounds, but time ran out just before the official signaled the pin. He finished with an 18-3 technical fall, making the score 23-0. Then, BC LaPrade made up for Andonian running out of time by pinning his opponent with one second left in the first period.
“Momentum is important in dual meets, and we’ve been on the other side of that, but you can definitely feel it,” Robie said. “It snowballs, and I think it snowballed for us tonight in a positive way and one guy just wants to outdo the next guy.”
LaPrade’s pin was just his second pin in his career at Virginia Tech. Robie said that he expects LaPrade back for next year despite being honored as a senior over the weekend, but this was an important moment in his career.
“It was pretty important to me because I really just didn’t want to go out there and lose [on senior night],” LaPrade said. “My mindset was to go out there, do my thing and destroy.”
Five other seniors were honored before the match as they participated in what is most likely their final dual meet in Blacksburg of their career. David McFadden, LaPrade and Joey Prata along with Cody Hughes, Dom Latona and Ryan More were all honored before the match. Of the six seniors, only Hughes and LaPrade wrestled for the Hokies. Hughes earned an 8-4 win and a standing ovation in his final dual meet in Blacksburg.
“It was my last match ever wrestling in Blacksburg and my first time wrestling in Moss Arts Center,” Hughes said. “So getting to go out there and knowing it’s my last opportunity to flex for the crowd, I was super excited for that”
This is the third straight season that the Hokies have wrestled in Moss Arts Center. The sold-out crowd helps to create a unique environment wrestling away from the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum.
“In my opinion, it’s the most unique venue in college wrestling,” Robie said. “Our fan support was fantastic tonight, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. We continue to sell it out, and the Hokies continue to cheer on our guys, so it was a lot of fun.”
The forfeits by Duke allowed Robie to rest many of his most talented wrestlers. No. 16 Joey Prata and No. 19 Mitch Moore both didn’t wrestle on Saturday due to the forfeits. Also, Robie decided to sit his top two wrestlers, No. 6 David McFadden at 165 pounds and No. 2 Hunter Bolen at 184 pounds.
“It’s nice for those guys to be able to take the weekend off because in our sport, that’s tough to do,” Robie said. “It’s good, and I think it’s going to be really good for Dave and Hunter who both have really tough matches coming up on Friday.”
This rest will allow the Tech team to prepare for a tough stretch coming up where the Hokies will travel to face No. 3 NC State and No. 10 Pittsburgh in a span of eight days. This stretch will determine how the ACC shakes out entering the ACC Championship on March 8.
First, the Hokies will be on the mat on Friday in Raleigh to face the Wolfpack in a top-10 ACC Matchup. NC State is a perfect 13-0 this season after knocking off #8 North Carolina on Friday.
“It’s a big week anytime we wrestle those guys down there, and it’s no different this year,” Robie said. “This is why people come to Virginia Tech to wrestle, because of opportunities like we have on Friday night, so hopefully we take advantage of that.”