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.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) February 6, 2021
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:
|Wt. Class||Result||Team Points||Match Points|
|133||No. 8 Korbin Myers (VT) Def. No 13 Jarrett Trombley (NCS), 13-5 (MD)*||4-0 VT||13-5 VT|
|141||No. 10 Tariq Wilson (NCS) Def. Sam Hillegas (VT), 5-1||4-3 VT||14-10 VT|
|149||No. 11 Bryce Andonian (VT) Def. Ed Scott (NCS), 9-5||7-3 VT||23-15 VT|
|157||No. 2 Hayden Hidlay (NCS) Def. Connor Brady (VT) 9-4||7-6 VT||27-24 VT|
|165||No. 1 Mekhi Lewis (VT) Def. 15 Thomas Bullard (NCS), 5-0||10-6 VT||32-24 VT|
|174||No. 7 Daniel Bullard (NCS) Def. Dakota Howard (VT), 10-2 (MD)*||10-10||34-34|
|184||No. 2 Hunter Bolen (VT) Def. No. 4 Trent Hidlay (NCS), 2-1||13-10 VT||36-35 VT|
|197||No. 16 Isaac Trumble (NCS) Def. Stan Smeltzer (VT), 6-5||13-13||41-41|
|HWT||No. 19 Deonte Wilson (NCS) Def. No. 17 Jon Borst (VT), 3-1||13-16 NCS||42-44 NCS|
|125||No. 8 Sam Latona (VT) Def. No. 4 Jakob Camacho (NCS), 7-4||16-16||49-48 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:
🤯 𝘿𝙐𝘼𝙇 𝙊𝙁 𝙏𝙃𝙀 𝙔𝙀𝘼𝙍? 🤯
— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) February 6, 2021
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.
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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.