With Mekhi Lewis on the sidelines due to injury, Virginia Tech Wrestling’s chances for an ACC championship were doubtful, and in the end, the Hokies, who won the 2021 ACC Dual Meet Championship, couldn’t challenge NC State for the tournament title.
Virginia Tech finished a distant second to NC State at the ACC Championships in Raleigh, scoring 65.5 points to NC State’s 89.5.
Here’s the full team score breakdown:
Lewis entered the ACC Championships but bowed out with an injury default without wrestling. This preserves his chance at healing up and making the NCAA Championships March 18-20. To make the bracket, Lewis will need to be an at-large selection. The at-large selections will be made March 10th.
Virginia Tech Wrestling released this note about Lewis on their Twitter feed:
In Lewis’s absence, Virginia Tech placed five wrestlers in the championships of their weight classes, and two of them won: Korbin Myers at 133 pounds and Sam Latona at 125 pounds. The championships started at the 133-pound class and ended with the 125-pound class, so the Hokies opened and closed with ACC champions, but there were no Virginia Tech champions in between, in the other eight weight classes.
Myers was seeded No. 2, but with the way he’s been wrestling this season — he was undefeated coming in — it came as no surprise when he knocked off No. 1 seed Micky Phillippi of Pitt 3-1 for Myers’s first ACC Championship. Myers came in ranked No. 7 nationally, Phillippi No. 4.
Myers was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the championships.
Sam Latona was seeded No. 1 at 125 pounds, and he eked out a 2-1 win over NC State’s Jakob Camacho, Latona’s third career win over Camacho. The match went to two 30-second overtime tie-breakers tied 1-1, and Latona got an escape in the first tiebreaker to go up 2-1. Camacho couldn’t escape from Latona in the second tiebreaker to tie it up, giving Latona the narrow victory, and the first ACC Championship for the redshirt freshman.
The Hokies had three runners-up:
149 pounds: Bryce Andonian, seeded No. 2, ran into the human buzzsaw Austin O’Connor of UNC. O’Connor is ranked No. 1 in the nation, and though Andonian jumped out to a 6-0 lead off a takedown and back points, he couldn’t hold off O’Connor, who eventually won 10-8. O’Connor has now beaten Andonian all four times they have wrestled, including the last two ACC Championships.
184 pounds: Hunter Bolen, seeded No. 1, faced off against No. 2 seed Trent Hidlay of NC State. Bolen had won the three previous matchups, including last year’s ACC Championship, all by narrow margins. This matchup was close as usual, going into sudden victory overtime tied 1-1. But this time Hidlay won, getting a takedown that ended the match.
HWT: With John Borst out with an injury, Hunter Catka took over the heavyweight spot. Seeded No. 3, Catka beat No. 6 seed Jonah Niesenbaum of Duke 17-0 (tech fall), and then upset No. 2 seed Quinn Miller of UVA 4-3. That put Catka up against No. 1 seed Deonte Wilson of NC State, and the two battled into the 30-second tiebreakers tied 1-1. Wilson got an escape in the first tiebreaker, but Catka couldn’t return the favor in the second tiebreaker, so Catka lost, 2-1.
Two Virginia Tech wrestlers finished third: No. 3 seed Connor Brady at 157 pounds, and No. 4 seed Dakota Howard at 174 pounds. Howard’s third-place match against UVA’s Victor Marcelli was a good one, as Howard fell behind 7-2 going into the third period, then displayed his relentless motor to roar back and tie it at 9. The match went into sudden victory overtime, where Howard got a takedown in mere seconds to secure the 11-9 win.
The following Virginia Tech wrestlers didn’t register a win: Sam Hillegas (141 pounds), Andy Smith (197 pounds), and of course Mekhi Lewis (165 pounds).
The following seven Hokies are already qualified for the NCAA Championships:
- 125 pounds: Sam Latona
- 133 pounds: Korbin Myers
- 149 pounds: Bryce Andonian
- 157 pounds: Connor Brady
- 174 pounds: Dakota Howard
- 184 pounds: Hunter Bolen
- HWT: Hunter Catka
As noted above, Mekhi Lewis must wait and see if he receives an at-large bid.