While not every Hokie wrestler finished in the top eight of their weight class, Virginia Tech had a rather impressive outing at the 2022 Southern Scuffle, with Hunter Bolen finishing third at 184 pounds and Andy Smith finishing fifth at 197.
Bolen started off his tournament run with a bang, pinning Nathan Thacker in only 3:26 to move on to the round of 16. He then strung together two more decision victories in the next two rounds to qualify for the semifinals.
Despite coming into the tournament as the two-seed at 184 pounds, Bolen fell to six-seeded Kyle Cochran in the semi-finals, sending him down to the consolation bracket, 6-4.
After winning via injury default in the consolation semifinals, Bolen impressively took down three-seeded Jeremiah Kent in sudden victory, 9-5. A takedown and two nearfall points in the extra period sealed the third place finish for Bolen.
Many expected Bolen to place in the top five in his class, but few probably expected the same from freshman Andy Smith to do the same thing at 197 pounds.
Smith dominated Azeem Bell in the first round, picking up five takedowns and over a minute in riding time to get the major decision victory, 12-4.
After falling to three-seeded Cam Caffey by decision in the following round, 6-3, Smith rallied for four-straight victories in the consolation bracket. He outscored his opponents 34-14 during the streak.
Smith suffered a second loss to Caffey in the consolation semifinals, 8-2, but was awarded fifth place in the tournament after Alan Clothier forfeited for medical reasons.
Two other freshmen made some noise in the tournament at 125 pounds: Eddie Ventresca and Cooper Flynn, who both wrestled unattached.
Ventresca made it to the quarterfinals of the championship but lost to one-seeded Killian Cardinale via major decision, 8-0.
The loss dropped Ventresca down to the consolation bracket, where his first opponent was Flynn. Ventresca narrowly edged out his Hokie counterpart, 2-1, ending Flynn’s tournament run. Ventresca’s tournament came to a close in the next round following a 5-3 decision loss to five-seeded Caleb Smith, though he finished eighth in his weight class.
Both freshmen fared decently well in the tournament, each finishing with a 3-2 record on the weekend.
Virginia Tech’s other unattached wrestlers didn’t have nearly as impressive performances.
Six-seeded freshman heavyweight Hunter Catka was also wrestling unattached, making it as far as the quarterfinals before being bounced by Aaron Costello, 3-1. He then lost his only consolation match to Owen Trephan, 5-3. The overall showing wasn’t terrible for Catka, but a little more was expected out of him after entering with a top-eight ranking.
Sam Fisher finished his tournament with a 1-2 record, being outscored 24-4 in his three bouts at 184 pounds.
Wrestling attached for Virginia Tech, sophomore Clayton Ulrey and redshirt-sophomore Brandon Wittenberg both finished 2-2 on the weekend.
Ulrey fell in the round of 16 to RJ Mosley, 3-2, and lost his only consolation match to Jack Thomsen, 8-5. The sophomore 165-pounder did pick up two nice victories to start the tournament, winning by scores of 8-1 and 8-2.
Wittenberg’s championship run ended in the opening round, as he suffered a 14-1 major decision loss to one-seeded Rayvon Foley. After two wins in the consolation bracket where he outscored his opponents 20-3, Wittenberg fell to five-seeded Richie Koehler, 14-0.
No. 10 Virginia Tech (4-3) returns to the mat on Sunday, January 9 for a doubleheader, hosting Binghamton (3-8) at noon and West Virginia (5-3) at 4 p.m.
Cooper Flynn (Freshman – 125)
Round of 32: Decision victory over J. Schafer (WVU), 5-3
Round of 16: Decision loss to T. Daugherty (BUF), 2-1
Consi round of 16 #2: Decision victory over T. Naquin (DUKE), 2-0
Consi round of 8 #1: Decision victory over B. Brown (MARY), 4-1
Consi round of 8 #2: Decision loss to Ventresca, 2-1
Eddie Ventresca (Freshman – 125)
Round of 32: Decision victory over T. Lujan (MSU), 9-4
Round of 16: Decision victory over G. Diakomihalis (CORN), 5-3
Quarter-finals: Major decision loss to K. Cardinale (WVU), 8-0
Consi round of 8 #2: Decision victory over Flynn, 2-1
Consi round of 4: Decision loss to C. Smith (APPST), 5-3
Brandon Wittenberg (R-Sophomore – 133)
Round of 64: Major decision loss to R. Foley (MSU), 14-1
Consi round of 32 #2: Technical fall victory over C. Matthews (IOWA), 15-0 (4:07)
Consi round of 16 #1: Decision victory over D. Pleasant (DREX), 5-3
Consi round of 16 #2: Major decision loss to R. Koehler (RID), 14-0
Clayton Ulrey (Sophomore – 165)
Round of 64: Decision victory over B. Baker (CORN), 8-1
Round of 32: Decision victory over S. Porter (CIT), 8-2
Round of 16: Decision loss to R. Mosley (GWEBB), 3-2
Consi round of 16 #2: Decision loss to J. Thomsen (SDST), 8-5
Hunter Bolen (R-Senior – 184)
Round of 32: Win by fall over N. Thacker (CORN), 3:26
Round of 16: Decision victory over A. Carman (WVU), 5-1
Quarter-finals: Decision victory over D. Parker Jr (NDSU), 9-2
Semi-finals: Decision loss to K. Cochran (MARY), 6-4
Consi-semis: Win by injury default over L. Malczewski (MSU), 2-0 (0:04)
3rd place match: Decision victory over J. Kent (MIZZOU), 9-5
Sam Fisher (Freshman – 184)
Round of 32: Decision loss to J. Loew (CORN), 8-3
Consi round of 16 #1: Decision victory over Z. Brown (VMI), 8-1
Consi round of 16 #2: Major decision loss to A. Carman (WVU), 8-0
Andy Smith (Freshman – 197)
Round of 32: Major decision victory over A. Bell (RID), 12-4
Round of 16: Decision loss to C. Caffey (MSU), 6-3
Consi round of 16 #2: Major decision victory over J. Anderson (RID), 18-6
Consi round of 8 #1: Decision victory over S. Mitchell (BUF), 6-3
Consi round of 8 #2: Decision victory over N. Casperson (SDST), 7-3
Consi round of 4: Decision victory over G. Joles (MINN), 3-2
Consi-semis: Decision loss to C. Caffey (MSU), 8-2
5th place match: Win by medical forfeit over A. Clothier (NCOL)
Hunter Catka (Freshman – 285)
Round of 32: Technical fall victory over S. Harris (VMI), 17-1 (4:20)
Round of 16: Decision victory over Nevills (PSU), 1-0
Quarter-finals: Decision loss to A. Costello (IOWA), 3-1
Consi round of 8 #2: Decision loss to O. Trephan (NCST), 5-3