No. 4 Virginia Tech Wrestling dominated No. 16 Pittsburgh 27-12 to lock down the outright ACC Dual Meet Championship. The dual meet championship is Virginia Tech’s first since the 2016-17 season. The Hokies three-peated from 2014-15 through 2016-17.
Virginia Tech is 9-0 this season, just the seventh time in program history that the Hokies have finished competition without a defeat, and the first since the 1956-57 season. This is the longest undefeated season in school history after the 1954-55 team went a perfect 8-0.
The celebration was dimmed somewhat by an injury to Mekhi Lewis, who left the mat between the second and third periods with a shoulder injury and forfeited his match.
With Pittsburgh’s highest-ranked wrestler out for the meet — No 4-ranked Mickey Phillippi at 133 pounds — a win for the Panthers would have been tough, and as it was, the Hokies ran away with it, winning seven of ten weight classes.
The bad news for Virginia Tech came in the 165-pound class, where defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Mekhi Lewis fell prey to a shoulder injury against No. 10 Jake Wentzel. Wentzel was controlling the match, registering the second takedown of Lewis in the last three meets. Wentzel got Lewis’s leg in the air with about 1:45 to go in the first period, then got the takedown with 21 seconds left.
Wentzel stayed on top in the second period, and with about a minute to go in the second, got Lewis’s left shoulder in an awkward position. Lewis took an injury timeout with 45 seconds left to go in the period, rubbing his shoulder. Lewis returned to action, and just 15 seconds later, Wentzel rode Lewis to the mat, and Lewis cried out in pain. After another injury timeout, Lewis returned to neutral and made it to the end of the period. During the break between periods, Lewis, with the shoulder clearly bothering him, opted out and took the injury default for his first loss since the fall of 2018. It broke Lewis’s 27-match win streak.
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Other than that, it was almost all good news for Virginia Tech.
HWT: Hunter Catka got the start over John Borst, who may still be injured from last week’s meet. Catka beat Austin Cooley 4-0. Virginia Tech 3, Pitt 0.
125 pounds: Sam Latona, the hero of Tech’s dramatic win over NC State last weekend, faced his second straight opponent named Camacho, namely Colton Camacho (not related to NC State’s Jakob Camacho). Latona, No. 5 in the nation, dispatched the unranked Camacho 12-3 for a major decision and a 7-0 VT lead.
133: With Phillippi not wrestling for Pitt, Tech coach Tony Robie rested Korbin Myers and gave the start to last year’s 125-pound starter, Joey Prata. Prata took down Louis Newell with four seconds left for a 3-1 win, giving the Hokies a 10-0 team lead.
141: Unranked Collin Gerardi got the start over Sam Hillegas and battled No. 17 Cole Matthews hard, losing 8-4. Virginia Tech 10, Pitt 3.
149: No. 10 Bryce Andonian whipped Mick Burnett 10-1, including a near fall and riding time. Virginia Tech 14, Pitt 3.
157: Connor Brady dominated Tyler Badgett 12-1, including a 7-0 second period, for Tech’s second major decision and an 18-3 team lead.
165: Lewis’s injury default made it 18-9, Hokies.
174: In the aftermath of Lewis’s injury, Dakota Howard, with a 1-4 record on the season, destroyed Jared McGill with repeated takedowns. After falling behind 2-0 early, Howard outscored McGill 21-4 from that point on to register a 21-6 technical fall victory.
Howard led 5-3 after one period, then registered three takedowns and two near falls in the second period to take a 19-6 lead. Howard took down McGill again just a few seconds into the third period to go ahead 21-6 and end the match with a tech fall. Taking no time to celebrate the win, Howard ran into the Cassell Coliseum tunnel, presumably to check on Lewis in what was an emotional moment in Cassell Coliseum.
184: Howard’s win made it 23-9, and No. 2 Hunter Bolen also made quick work of his Pitt opponent, Gregg Harvey. Bolen had three takedowns in the first period and won 12-4, making it 27-9, Hokies.
197: Andy Smith finished out with an 8-1 loss to No. 7 Nino Bonaccorsi of Pitt, making the final score 27-12.
With Virginia Tech peaking at just the right time, all eyes are on Mekhi Lewis and his injury. The Hokies have a two-week-plus layoff until the ACC Championships on Sunday, February 28th. After that, the NCAA Championships don’t start until Thursday, March 18th, 34 days from this meet. In a worst-case scenario, that’s almost five weeks for Lewis to heal up.