No. 8 Virginia Tech Wrestling Opens Season Against No. 9 Ohio State on Friday

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No. 8 Virginia Tech and Tony Robie open their season on Friday vs. No. 9 Ohio State. (Jon Fleming)

No. 8 Virginia Tech hosts No. 9 Ohio State (1-0) in a highly-anticipated match on Friday night at 7 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum.

While the Hokies boast one of the more formidable squads in the country, they will face a big test to open the year against a Buckeye team that finished ninth as a team in the 2021 NCAA tournament.

Below is a closer look at the Buckeyes before Friday’s match: 

All individual rankings provided by InterMat

125 pounds: No. 14 Malik Heinselman (Sr., Castle Rock, Colo.)

Heinselman began the 2022 season 1-0 after taking down North Carolina’s Spencer Moore, 6-2. He enters his senior year looking to make his fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance. 

He will assume the role of underdog against No. 12 Sam Latona in an intriguing ranked match.

133: Dylan Koontz (R-Sr., Plover, Wis.)

The redshirt senior is still seeking his first career dual win. Koontz gave a valiant effort against North Carolina’s then-No. 13 Jamie Hernandez, losing 5-3. 

His quest to grab a dual victory won’t be any easier against Virginia Tech, as he’s slated to face No. 4 Korbin Myers.

141: Jordan Decatur (Jr., Akron, Ohio)

Decatur’s signature win came at 133 pounds against then-No. 15 Josh Kramer back in 2019. He enters the 2021 season with a 20-15 career record, including six Big Ten victories. Decatur opened the year with a narrow 3-1 loss in a sudden victory period against North Carolina’s then-No. 14 Kizhan Clark.

He will provide a decent challenge for Tech’s Sam Hillegas, who earned a 5-5 record in his first season in Blacksburg.

149: No. 2 Sammy Sasso (R-Jr., Nazareth, Pa.)

The two-time NCAA qualifier bolsters an impressive 45-4 collegiate record and finished as the national runner-up at 149 pounds last year. Sasso picked up an enormous victory over North Carolina’s then-No. 5 Zach Sherman on Nov. 7, 5-4. 

No. 2 Sammy Sasso and No. 9 Bryce Andonian is going to be quite a match on Friday. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

One of Virginia Tech’s most dynamic wrestlers, No. 9 Bryce Andonian could give the former All-American a run for his money.

157: Jashon Hubbard (R-Jr., Steubenville, Ohio)

Hubbard was dominated by North Carolina’s No. 2 Austin O’Connor, getting pinned less than four minutes into the match. The redshirt junior is largely inexperienced, only having wrestled four matches in his collegiate career.

No. 29 Connor Brady, who finished third at 157 pounds last year in the ACC Championship should be favored in the bout.

165: No. 10 Carson Kharchla (R-So., Powell, Ohio)

Kharchla enters the 2022 season owning an undefeated record in his collegiate career, going an unprecedented 16-0 in his redshirt season two years ago. His most impressive win came against then-No. 20 Troy Keller, earning a 19-2 technical fall. He made easy work of North Carolina’s Sonny Santiago, winning by major decision, 10-2.

The Hokies will pit either Jordan Florence or Clayton Ulrey against Kharchla.

174: No. 6 Ethan Smith (R-Sr., Latrobe, Pa.)

Smith is one of the Buckeyes’ more experienced wrestlers, having qualified for three NCAA tournaments and competed in almost 90 matches in his collegiate career. One of his most notable victories came against former Virginia Tech All-American David McFadden two years ago. Smith picked up a ranked win against North Carolina’s No. 22 Gavin Kane, 17-10.

The 2021 All-American will face off against No. 4 Mekhi Lewis in the night’s marquee match-up. It’ll provide a big challenge for Lewis, who is coming off a torn pectoral muscle and making his debut at 174 pounds.

184: No. 21 Rocky Jordan (R-Jr., St. Paris, Ohio)

Jordan has moved down to 184 pounds this season despite receiving the No. 17 preseason ranking at 197 pounds, likely due to the fact that he wrestled at 184 his first two years in Columbus. He reps a 39-22 record over the last three years, including 10 wins in the Big Ten. He notched an impressive victory over North Carolina’s then-No. 17 Clay Lautt, 4-1.

Virginia Tech’s Hunter Bolen has a tough matchup on Friday vs. No. 21 Rocky Jordan. (Ivan Morozov)

No. 9 Hunter Bolen should have the upper-hand in the match, but Jordan has the potential to pull off the upset. 

197: No. 24 Gavin Hoffman (R-Jr., Montoursville, Pa.)

Hoffman brings a 35-17 career record into the match, including a big major decision victory over North Carolina’s Mark Chaid, 14-3.

It’s a toss-up as to whether Dakota Howard or Andy Smith will get the starting nod at 197 pounds Friday night, but either wrestler should be a fairly-matched opponent for Hoffman.

285: No. 7 Tate Orndorff (R-Sr., Spokane, Wash.)

Orndorff is a former NWCA All-American and a three-time NCAA qualifier. He started his career at Utah Valley University and then transferred to Ohio State before his redshirt junior season. Despite being ranked No. 7 to start the year, Orndorff narrowly edged out North Carolina’s then-No. 33 Brandon Whitman, 2-0.

Whether it’s Hunter Catka or Nathan Traxler suiting up against Orndorff Friday night, it should be a competitive match.

Next:

No. 8 Virginia Tech takes on No. 9 Ohio State on Friday night at 7 p.m. (ACC Network Extra) before turning around and hosting Gardner-Webb on Saturday at 1 p.m. (ACC Network Extra).

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4 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Jack, love your wrestling articles just one point for future ones. You will not see Catka at any dual this year. He is redshirting and in wrestling you can’t wrestle except unattached at tournaments while shirting. Trax will always be the guy at 285 this year unless an injury occurs. Tronge is a backup at heavy

  2. Thanks you for the information. I’m a wrestling novice but I had a hard time following the matchups and what to expect
    … Probably my bad..

    1. Don’t feel bad, I’ve learned so much about the sport through a large number of knowledgeable posters in this group. You’ll be up to speed in no time.

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