Up 33-3 against Duke with only two matches to wrestle, fans in Cassell Coliseum started to settle down as Virginia Tech’s first ACC home victory of the season was already locked up.
No. 10 Hunter Bolen had just annihilated Duke’s Vincent Baker in an impressive 15-0 shutout technical fall victory 184 pounds, and Dakota Howard took the mat next. The redshirt junior was looking to bounce back from a tough 6-1 loss to Pittsburgh’s Nino Bonaccorsi the week prior.
Howard did exactly that, topping Russell in a thrilling 10-5 decision.
But what happened after the final buzzer in the match was arguably more electrifying. Howard ran around the Coliseum floor, handing out high-fives to fans and re-energizing a crowd that seemed to doze off a little bit after three-straight bout victories.
With a reinvigorated crowd ready for another victory to complete the night, No. 14 Nathan Traxler delivered, pinning Jonah Niesenbaum in only 2:13 to put the cherry on top of No. 7 Virginia Tech’s (7-3, 2-1 ACC) romp of Duke (6-8, 0-3), 42-3.
The Hokies won all but one match against the Blue Devils, as No. 21 Connor Brady suffered a buzzer-beating loss to Duke’s Wade Unger.
Unger scored on a takedown close to the edge of the mat with under four seconds to seal Brady’s second loss in six days. The loss is a tough one for Brady, who entered last Sunday’s match against Pittsburgh winning nine of his last ten.
Every other VT wrestler snagged a victory against Duke, including No. 5 Bryce Andonian, who stunned Duke’s No. 14 Josh Finesilver, pinning him in only 21 seconds.
The win is a game-changer for Andonian, who needed a statement victory to reaffirm his top five status after limited action this year. Friday’s match against Duke was only Andonian’s sixth bout of the year.
No. 3 Mekhi Lewis earned the only other ranked victory of the night with a decision victory over No. 15 Matt Finesilver, 6-2.
With the ranked Finesilver brothers defeated, Duke had to rely on a few of its unranked guys to get the job done. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, many of those wrestlers faced ranked foes, and none were able to pull off an upset.
No. 20 Sam Latona continued his dominant start to 2022, besting Duke’s Ty Naquin in a 19-2 technical fall victory that only took 4:38. The win is Latona’s fourth-straight win after a rocky start to the season.
Clayton Ulrey celebrated his birthday with his 13th win of the year, beating Duke’s Gabe Dinette in a 14-5 major decision victory.
No. 22 Collin Gerardi also grabbed a major decision win over Duke’s Patrick Rowland, 8-0. Korbin Myers was awarded a win by forfeit at 133 pounds.
No. 7 Virginia Tech returns to Cassell Coliseum on Friday, Feb. 11 to host No. 18 North Carolina (8-4, 3-0) at 7 p.m. The match will be televised on ACC Network Extra.
125: No. 20 Sam Latona (VT) tech fall Ty Naquin (DUKE), 19-2, 4:38
133: No. 5 Korbin Myers (VT) winner via forfeit
141: No. 22 Collin Gerardi (VT) maj dec. Patrick Rowland (DUKE), 8-0
149: No. 5 Bryce Andonian (VT) wins by fall No. 14 Josh Finesilver (DUKE), 0:21
157: Wade Unger (DUKE) dec. No. 21 Connor Brady (VT), 4-3
165: Clayton Ulrey (VT) maj dec. Gabe Dinette (DUKE), 14-5
174: No. 3 Mekhi Lewis (VT) dec. No. 15 Matt Finesilver (DUKE), 6-2
184: No. 10 Hunter Bolen (VT) tech fall Vincent Baker (DUKE), 15-0, 7:00
197: No. 32 Dakota Howard (VT) dec. Kaden Russell (DUKE), 10-5
285 (HWT): No. 14 Nathan Traxler (VT) wins by fall Jonah Niesenbaum (DUKE), 2:13