One thing that makes the sport of wrestling unique is its individuality. When you walk on to the mat, shake hands, and hear the whistle blow, it’s just you and your opponent.
None of your teammates can come to your rescue when things get tough. It’s up to you to be mentally and physically strong enough to fight through the adversity.
184-pound freshman Simeone Holmes learned that sentiment to be true in his second career dual match as a Hokie.
Holmes came out firing on all cylinders to start the bout, nearly pinning Binghamton’s Sam DePrez twice in the first period. Speed and aggression in the first three minutes helped Holmes to an 8-4 lead at the end of the first period.
After rolling out of bounds only 42 seconds into the second period, Holmes laid on that mat with his hands on his head and his chest pumping. A couple seconds went by and the freshman got up, only to take six steps and collapse back down to his knees.
Despite owning a five-point lead, it looked like Holmes would be too drained to cling on to the win.
“At the end of the first period, my muscles were just like done and I just had to keep going through that,” Holmes said after Sunday’s match. “I just had to keep going.”
Holmes continued on, fighting through the exhaustion and scoring an additional four points to snag the 14-8 victory. The win wasn’t only Holmes’ first of the day on Sunday, but it was also his first dual win at Virginia Tech.
“It felt really good to be able to get the opportunity to go out there for the first time and be able to get that tough win,” Holmes said. “It was a rough match, but I got my hand raised at the end.”
The victory was one of 16 for No. 10 Virginia Tech (4-3) on the day against Binghamton (3-9, 1-1 EIWA) and West Virginia (5-3, 0-1 Big 12), with the Hokies falling on the wrong side of only five of the 21 matches they wrestled.
Another one of VT’s victories belonged to No. 16 Sam Latona, who earned the 22-7 technical fall over Binghamton’s Nick Curley in what felt like a “get right” match for the redshirt sophomore.
Latona finished 2-5 in dual matches in the first half of the season and wanted to approach the new year with a more focused mentality.
“Going into 2022, it was kind of nice,” Latona said. “New year, I was like it’s time to really dial in and lock things in and figure things out. So I was excited, like I said, and it’s time to get things rolling and get back on track here.”
While Latona seemed to have righted the ship on Sunday, No. 23 Connor Brady continued his dominant 2022 campaign picking up a win by fall and a decision victory to build his dual match record this season to 8-1.
Only a little over halfway through the season, Brady is well on his way to doubling his win total (five) from 2020.
“I think I’m just more confident this year,” Brady said. “I was pretty scared last year, especially wrestling at Cassell [Coliseum]. I was like 0-4 starting off at Cassell, it was bad. It took me a while to get a win here. But I kind of just started wrestling like I was in the practice room. Like kind of just trying to block out everything else and just act like I was in practice while I was out wrestling on the mat, and that helped my mindset a lot.”
It’s natural for younger wrestlers to find their way in their first two seasons, but for guys like sixth-year senior No. 13 Nathan Traxler (8-1 in duals this season), winning is essentially down to a science.
“I guess it’s kind of cliche, but just taking it one step at a time,” Traxler said on how he would advise some of the younger guys on the squad. “I think some younger guys can get caught up in specific moments, especially like maybe the first period of a match or your debut for your team or whatever. Sometimes you’ve gotta realize it is a marathon, not a sprint, and you’ve just gotta know what to do next, right?
“As long as you’re doing the right thing next, then you’re going to be in good position in each match you’re put in.”
Traxler notched two ranked victories on Sunday, with one coming via fall over Binghamton’s No. 20 Joe Boyle in the first period.
Sunday’s round robin event was arguably one of the best showings for Tech all year, but head coach Tony Robie still believes that the team hasn’t reached its peak.
“We need to get everybody firing on all cylinders,” Robie said. “We really haven’t had that all year where we’ve had every guy in the lineup wrestling to the best of their ability. I think if we can do that and get everybody firing on all cylinders at the right time of the year, we can do great things. But it’s gotta be that. It’s gotta be ten guys.
“It’s gotta be ten guys wrestling at their best, being highly competitive, wrestling with a sense of urgency, and if we can do that and we can put that together, we’ve got a chance to do some great things. So we’re counting on all ten of our guys to make sure that they’re in the right frame of mind when they step out there, especially as we hit the homestretch of the season.”
Robie didn’t provide an update on No. 6 Bryce Andonian, who hasn’t been in action since the Missouri dual on December 4.
No. 10 Virginia Tech takes on George Mason (5-3) at the Moss Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 4 p.m. ET.
No. 16 Sam Latona (VT) TF Nick Curley (BING), 22-7 (7:00)
No. 5 Korbin Myers (VT) maj dec. No. 32 Anthony Sobotker (BING), 13-1
No. 5 Korbin Myers (VT) maj dec. Michael Dolan (WVU), 17-5
Brandon Wittenberg (VT) WBF Christian Gannone (BING), 3:44
Sam Hillegas (VT) WBF Caleb Rea (WVU), 2:47
Sam Hillegas (VT) maj dec. Lucas Seibert (WVU), 14-4
Ryan Anderson (BING) dec. Sam Hillegas (VT), 4-0
Kylan Montgomery (VT) dec. George Johnson (WVU), 7-1
Nick Lombard (BING) dec. Kylan Montgomery (VT), 8-2
No. 23 Connor Brady (VT) WBF Tyler Martin (BING), 1:51
No. 23 Connor Brady (VT) dec. Alex Hornfeck (WVU), 8-6
Clayton Ulrey (VT) dec. Brevin Cassella (BING), 6-1
Clayton Ulrey (VT) wins via injury forfeit against Peyton Hall (WVU)
No. 5 Mekhi Lewis (VT) WBF Jacob Nolan (BING), 3:56
No. 5 Mekhi Lewis (VT) dec. Scott Joll (WVU), 10-4
Simeone Holmes (VT) dec. Sam DePrez (BING), 14-8
Cory Day (BING) dec. Simeone Holmes (VT), 1-0
Anthony Carmen (WVY) maj dec. Simeone Holmes (VT), 10-1
Andy Smith (VT) dec. Jackson Moomau (WVU), 9-5
Louie DePrez (BING) dec. Andy Smith (VT), 10-4
No. 13 Nathan Traxler (VT) WBF No. 20 Joe Boyle (BING), 2:46
No. 13 Nathan Traxler (VT) dec. No. 22 Michael Wolfgram (WVU), 5-2