No. 8-ranked Virginia Tech Wrestling opened their 2021 season with a 28-6 win over Campbell in Cassell Coliseum Saturday afternoon. The dual meet was highlighted by the return of 2019 national champion Mekhi Lewis to that mat after an Olympic redshirt year, and the debuts of five Hokie freshmen wrestlers: Sam Latona, Sam Hillegas, Connor Brady, Kolton Clark, and Andy Smith.
The meet opened with the heavyweight class and then transitioned to the 125-pound class. Here are the results by weight class:
HWT: No. 17 John Borst (VT) dec. Taye Ghadiali (CAM), 6-3
125: No. 18 Sam Latona (VT) dec. Zurich Storm (CAM), 5-3
133: No. 10 Korbin Myers (VT) dec. Gabe Hixenbaugh (CAM), 4-1
141: Sam Hillegas (VT) WBF Shannon Hanna (CAM), 4:17
149: No. 20 Bryce Andonian (VT) dec. No. 9 Joshua Heil (CAM), 12-9
157: Ben Barton (CAM) dec. Connor Brady, 7-4
165: No. 1 Mekhi Lewis (VT) MD Austin Kraisser (CAM), 13-4
174: Austin Murphy (CAM) dec. Kolton Clark (VT), 6-4
184: No. 2 Hunter Bolen (VT) dec. Caleb Hopkins (CAM), 4-3
197: Andy Smith (VT) dec. Levi Hopkins (CAM), 12-7
The meet was Virginia Tech’s first action in ten months, since the 2020 ACC Championship back on March 8, 2020. The 2020 NCAA Championships were of course canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Virginia Tech Wrestling Highlights
In the 141-pound class, Virginia Tech true freshman Sam Hillegas, a two-time Pennsylvania state champion in high school (157-5 career record), started off his college career with a bang, pinning Campbell’s Shannon Hann in the second period. It was the only pin of the day.
What a debut for @samhillegas99 on Saturday 👀
🟠 2x Pennsylvania State Champion
🟠 157-5 record at North Hills HS
🟠 No. 29 national recruit by @FloWrestling
— Evan Hughes (@EvanKHughes) January 2, 2021
In the only ranked matchup of the day at 149 pounds, 20th-ranked Hokie sophomore Bryce Andonian got off to a hot start against No. 9 Josh Heil, getting three first-period takedowns and a near fall to race out to an 8-2 lead after one period. Heil answered with two takedowns during the second period to close it to 10-7 going into the third. Andonian escaped to open the period and then was credited with a takedown less than a minute in to build an insurmountable 13-7 lead with 1:22 to go. But after a video review, the takedown was erased, returning the score to 11-7. Heil got a takedown with 39 seconds left to make it 11-9, but Andonian answered with an escape to win 12-9.
In his first action as a Hokies wrestler in nearly two years, No. 1-ranked Mekhi Lewis (165 pounds) dominated Campbell’s Austin Kraisser. Lewis took a 10-2 lead after one period and rode that to a 13-4 major decision that included 1:29 of riding time.
At 184 pounds, the Hokies’ No. 2-ranked Hunter Bolen opened up a 4-1 lead over Caleb Hopkins that included 2:25 in riding time, but Hopkins rode Bolen for the last four minutes of the match, giving Hopkins a point for riding time. Bolen was also called for stalling (one point), and the result was that Bolen squeaked out a narrow 4-3 win over the unranked Hopkins.
Next Up for Virginia Tech Wrestling: Quad Meet in Morgantown
Virginia Tech wrestles again on Sunday, January 10, when they visit Morgantown, WV for a quad meet with West Virginia, Ohio, and Kent State.