No. 8 Virginia Tech Wrestling Upsets No. 3 NC State in Dramatic Last-Second Win

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Virginia Tech Sam Latona
Virginia Tech’s Sam Latona leaps into the arms of Mekhi Lewis as the Hokies celebrate their dramatic dual meet win over NC State. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Think a 60-yard Hail Mary in football as time expires. Think a three-quarter-court buzzer-beating shot in basketball.

In a ten-weight-class, 70-minute battle royale, Virginia Tech 125-pounder Sam Latona scored four points on a takedown and near fall as time expired in the final weight class of the evening to spur No. 8 Virginia Tech Wrestling to a razor-thin 17-16 victory over No. 3 North Carolina State.

It was, without hyperbole, one of the most dramatic dual meets you will ever see in collegiate wrestling.

Trailing 4-3 with time winding down, Latona, ranked No. 8 nationally in the 125-pound weight class, took down No. 4 Jakob Camacho with about four seconds left to go. The takedown was worth two points, putting Latona ahead 5-4, but Latona also rotated Camacho onto his back enough that the referee awarded two additional “back points” to Latona as the clock expired, giving Latona a 7-4 win.

That win, worth three team points, tied the team score at 16. That sent the meet into tie-breaker criteria, and ultimately, the deciding tiebreaker was total points accumulated by wrestlers throughout the meet (referred to as match points).

Virginia Tech won that tiebreaker 49-48, meaning that Latona’s 4-point burst as time expired vaulted Virginia Tech from a 45-48 deficit to a 49-48 advantage that gave Virginia Tech an extra tiebreaker point and a 17-16 team win.

Here’s how the scoring went, weight class by weight class:

Virginia Tech vs. NC State Wrestling, Feb 5, 2021
Wt. ClassResultTeam PointsMatch Points
133No. 8 Korbin Myers (VT) Def. No 13 Jarrett Trombley (NCS), 13-5 (MD)*4-0 VT13-5 VT
141No. 10 Tariq Wilson (NCS) Def. Sam Hillegas (VT), 5-14-3 VT14-10 VT
149No. 11 Bryce Andonian (VT) Def. Ed Scott (NCS), 9-57-3 VT23-15 VT
157No. 2 Hayden Hidlay (NCS) Def. Connor Brady (VT) 9-47-6 VT27-24 VT
165No. 1 Mekhi Lewis (VT) Def. 15 Thomas Bullard (NCS), 5-010-6 VT32-24 VT
174No. 7 Daniel Bullard (NCS) Def. Dakota Howard (VT), 10-2 (MD)*10-1034-34
184No. 2 Hunter Bolen (VT) Def. No. 4 Trent Hidlay (NCS), 2-113-10 VT36-35 VT
197No. 16 Isaac Trumble (NCS) Def. Stan Smeltzer (VT), 6-513-1341-41
HWTNo. 19 Deonte Wilson (NCS) Def. No. 17 Jon Borst (VT), 3-113-16 NCS42-44 NCS
125No. 8 Sam Latona (VT) Def. No. 4 Jakob Camacho (NCS), 7-416-1649-48 VT
Note: A weight-class win is worth 3 team points. A major decision (MD) in a weight class (a win of 8-14 points) is worth 4 team points.

This one checked all the boxes:

  • Neither team led by more than 4 points at any given time.
  • It was tied after six weight classes, then again after eight weight classes, and again at the end.
  • The meet was decided by one match point in the final four seconds of 70 minutes of wrestling.

It was enough to get the attention of the NCAA Wrestling Twitter feed:

Meet Highlights

Here’s how Virginia Tech pulled off the win in the most dramatic dual meet of the ACC season, and arguably the entire NCAA season:

133 pounds: Korbin Myers is ranked No. 8, but he’s wrestling at a top-4 level. His 13-5 major decision over No. 13 Jarrett Trombley gave Virginia Tech an unexpected extra team point that proved to be crucial.

141 pounds: Virginia Tech unranked true freshman Sam Hillegas kept it close with No. 10 redshirt senior Tariq Wilson, losing 5-1 and not taking a major decision that would have hurt the Hokies.

157 pounds: Like Hillegas, unranked redshirt freshman Connor Brady battled No. 2-ranked redshirt senior Hayden Hidlay close, losing 9-5 and not giving up a major decision.

184 pounds: No. 2 ranked Hunter Bolen of Virginia Tech won his third-straight low-scoring match against No. 4 Trent Hidlay 2-1, in a critical tossup match of the meet.

197 pounds: Unranked Hokie Stan Smeltzer nearly upset No. 16 Isaac Trimble, losing 6-5 on riding time.

This article is sponsored by The Southeast Regional Training Center (SERTC). The SERTC is creating Olympic wrestling opportunities! Assist us in attracting the best recruits in the nation! Your support and contributions will help bring more OLYMPIC HOPEFUL training partners and mentors to Blacksburg, Virginia. Click here to learn more and to donate today!

Two things that didn’t go the Hokies’ way:

174 pounds: Last week’s feel-good story and ACC Wrestler of the Week, unranked Dakota Howard, fought valiantly against No. 7 Daniel Bullard of NC State but lost a 10-2 major decision that gave back the team point that Myers’s major decision earned.

Heavyweight: in a tossup between No. 17 John Borst of Virginia Tech and No. 19 Deonte Wilson of NC State, Borst appeared to suffer a major injury with 59 seconds left to go in the first period. Borst recoiled from a lockup with Wilson, staggered backwards, and eventually fell to the mat, screaming in pain with a right-arm injury.

Borst appeared to be in agony and might not be able to finish. A forfeit is a 6-point team victory for the opposition. As time on the injury timeout wound down, Borst returned to competition and battled through the second and third periods, eventually losing to Wilson 3-1, limiting the team points damaged to just three for NC State.

In the end, it was just enough for an exciting Hokies’ victory. Virginia Tech’s win breaks NC State’s nation’s-best dual meet winning streak at 22 straight.

Up Next: Virginia Tech vs. No. 15 Pittsburgh

With the win, Virginia Tech remains undefeated in ACC dual meets at 4-0, while NC State falls to 3-1. The Hokies wrestle at home next Friday against No. 15 Pittsburgh (6 PM, ACC Network). Virginia Tech has clinched a share of the 2021 regular-season ACC title, and with a  win against Pitt (1-3 ACC after losing to UNC Friday night), Virginia Tech will lock up their first outright ACC regular-season dual meet title since 2017.

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31 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Agree with 73 NIT win. I remember running around outside my house in my yard after they won. Incredible team win in a national tournament when it really meant something!
    I watched the wrestling match too and was awesome too!

  2. Think about this: We did that with FIVE freshmen. NCSU is the real deal. Now imagine this team in 2023, Lewis’ final year – those guys will all be 3rd and 4th year wrestlers. Podium finish at Nationals, maybe #1.

  3. Correct that. Not a former medal winner. I still have my district and regional wrestling medals. And a State Championship football ring

  4. I watched this match, amd as a former medal winner as a wrestler in high school, I’ll say this. NC State is a paper tiger. They are coached to just sit and accumulate riding points to win. No aggressiveness. Very little skilled moves. Get a few takedowns and then ride. That’s why they get called for stalling so much. Then their little pussy coach bitches to the ref. Overrated team.

  5. That was so exciting to watch last night!! This program is how a program should be run, props to all involved!! Pay Robey and his staff!!

    1. I could, at some point, type the sentence, “Mekhi Lewis, who was expected to win, did.” That doesn’t make the article better.

      At some point, you have to stop typing stuff and post an article.

  6. Great win! Sam Latona had the most exciting match but tip my hat to John Borst for gutting out and finishing his match. I didn’t think he would be able to finish.

  7. Our students would be wise to follow our wrestling program. Once you get invested in the sport (understanding the scoring) & teams (know the strength of our individual wrestlers & who they’re up against) than wrestling is the most exciting sport to watch. Wrestling could also be the source of VT’s, long sought after, very first team national championship. I would hate to be a VT student or fan & miss supporting that possibility & if the team can pull it off, the fans would want to be there to watch the roof blow off!
    Go Hokies!

  8. What a night!

    While it wasn’t dwelt upon much, I was really impressed with Mekhi Lewis. He literally smothered his opponent. I had hoped he would score a major victory but the match was never in doubt.

    1. This was without a doubt one of the closest meets I’ve ever seen. However, for “Drama Personified” I would go to the ’73 Men’s Basketball NIT (when it meant something – NCAA was 25 teams then) and Tech beat 4 teams by 5 points total, with the final victory in OT over Notre Dame.

      Tech was Too Short, Too White and Too Virginian as the press stated. Came to NY with a single change of underwear.

      But this was one exciting meet to watch and will go down in “greatest finish” file.
      GO HOKIES!!!

  9. I couldn’t watch live so I set it to record on ACCN. Silly me didn’t extend the recording, and it stopped with 15 seconds left in the Borst match. Matches go a lot slower when there are commercials, no pins and no forfeits.

    So….where can I see the entirety of Latona’s match?

  10. What a great match! Incredible drama and excitement! Feels so good to be on the winning side of an event like this.

    Also, it should be noted that the announcer was not some VT homer, but rather a former UVA wrestler, which makes his call all the better. He also said later that “Blacksburg is going ape nuts!”, which made me laugh all night.

  11. Enjoyed watching all the way to the end. Winning a team competitive event in the last 5 seconds to win the individual match and tie up the team match was awesome. Well done to Latona! The tie breaking awarding is a bit arbitrary. Great win over one of the top programs.

    1. Agree, watched it to the end. For Wrestling nothing like a last second jumper at the end to win the match. Glad it was on the ACCN so more people can see great competitive wrestling.

      GO HOKIES!!!

  12. Given to the Wrestling team for a while now but tonight made me pull the trigger on a donation to the SERTC. We’ve got a special group in Blacksburg and a lot to look forward to as our young athletes continue to improve.

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