Virginia Tech wrestling’s schedule for the 2022 season was released on Aug. 18, revealing the gauntlet of matches for Tony Robie and Co. this year. In the latest Intermat rankings from July, the Hokies sit at No. 17 entering the fall.
𝗔𝗶𝗻'𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝘄𝗮𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿?
— Virginia Tech Wrestling (@HokiesWrestling) August 18, 2022
After finishing eighth at last year’s NCAA Tournament, the program enters the new season with a schedule chock full of heavyweight matchups. Tech has three teams ranked in the top five on the 2022 docket, starting with a trip to Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 11, as the Hokies look to avenge last year’s 17-13 loss to No. 4 Ohio State.
The 174-pound bout between No. 2 Mekhi Lewis and No. 6 Ethan Smith of the Buckeyes will headline the match. Lewis narrowly defeated Smith 6-4 in their only career meeting last season.
Some of the younger Hokie grapplers will receive tougher matchups to start their 2022 season, with No. 30 Eddie Ventresca slated to battle Ohio State’s No. 14 Malik Heinselman at 125 pounds. Whoever starts at 149 — most likely Caleb Henson — will draw No. 3 Sammy Sasso.
Two tournaments — the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia and the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational — follow the OSU match before Virginia Tech hosts No. 3 Missouri on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.
The Hokies eked out an 18-16 victory over the Tigers last year. Late-match heroics from then-No. 14 heavyweight Nathan Traxler over Missouri’s then-No. 13 Zach Elam sealed the match with a 3-1 win in a sudden victory period.
The matchup will be one of the more intriguing duals of the season with nine projected ranked-versus-ranked bouts, according to Intermat’s July rankings.
157 and 174 pounds will be the weight classes to watch. No. 5 Bryce Andonian will face No. 15 Jarrett Jacques of Missouri, while national runner-up No. 2 Mekhi Lewis will go head-to-head with No. 10 Peyton Mocco.
While Andonian and Jacques will meet for the first time, Lewis knocked off Mocco 9-6 in their first-ever meeting last year.
Tech has three-and-a-half weeks off for winter break after the Missouri trip before hosting No. 5 Cornell in its annual match at the Moss Arts Center. Virginia Tech fell to the Big Red at the Journeymen Collegiate duals last year, 18-15.
Cornell would be the second-highest ranked opponent VT has ever wrestled in Moss after Tech hosted then-No. 4 Missouri in its inaugural dual in the venue back in 2017 — a 22-12 loss for the maroon and orange.
The Hokies are 3-1 in Moss all-time with wins over then-No. 22 Virginia (30-6, 2018), Duke (46-3, 2019) and George Mason (31-15, 2021).
Cornell comes to Blacksburg with a pair of wrestlers ranked in the top three at their respective weights. Yianni Diakomihalis is No. 1 at 149 pounds and Vito Arujau is No. 3 at 125.
Featured ranked bouts expected to take place include Lewis against Cornell’s No. 11 Chris Foca at 174 and No. 12 Hunter Bolen versus No. 7 Jonathan Loew at 184. Lewis beat Foca 3-1 in last year’s meeting while Bolen fell to Loew 7-5.
No. 26 Cody Howard versus the Big Red’s No. 17 Jacob Cardenas at 197 pounds should make for a pretty entertaining match. No. 21 Hunter Catka and No. 9 Lewis Fernandes will follow that up at heavyweight.
The Hokies will then travel north for a doubleheader on Jan. 8, taking on George Mason (1 p.m.) and American (5 p.m.). A week later, VT heads to Boone, N.C. for a date with Appalachian State on Jan. 13 (7 p.m.).
Virginia Tech begins its conference slate the following Friday as it hosts No. 11 NC State at 7 p.m. It’ll be an opportunity for the Hokies to get revenge for last year’s 21-10 loss in Raleigh.
The ACC regular season title has been claimed by either VT or NC State every year since 2015, symbolizing just how large the implications of this match will be.
A few of the highlighted bouts will include No. 13 Sam Latona and No. 11 Kai Orine at 125, No. 5 Bryce Andonian and No. 6 Ed Scott at 157, and No. 12 Hunter Bolen vs. No. 3 Trent Hidlay at 184.
Andonian is 2-0 all-time versus Scott, two wins that came in his sophomore year, while Bolen is 3-2 all-time against Hidlay, most recently losing 2-1 in February. Latona and Orine will go head-to-head for the first time this season.
Virginia Tech rounds out the final month of the schedule with trips to Durham and Chapel Hill to take on Duke (Feb. 3) and No. 19 North Carolina (Feb. 10). No. 18 Pittsburgh and Virginia will venture to Cassell Coliseum on Jan. 27 and Feb. 17, respectively.
The ACC Tournament will be held in Raleigh, N.C. at Reynolds Coliseum on March 5.
The Hokies’ first real action for the 2022 season will take place in just over two months in Salem at the Southern Scuffle on Nov. 5, which starts at 10 a.m. To view the complete schedule for Virginia Tech wrestling, click here.
*All rankings according to Intermat.com*