Mekhi Lewis, Caleb Henson Earn Titles, Virginia Tech Places Second At ACCs

Hokies freshman Caleb Henson won his first ACC championship on Sunday in Raleigh. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Virginia Tech entered Reynolds Coliseum on Sunday hoping to bring home its first ACC tournament title since 2018. That didn’t happen, but the Hokies did do something for the first time in program history in Raleigh, qualifying all ten starters for the NCAA tournament with automatic bids.

Tech finished in second place at the event with 78 points. NC State won its fifth-straight ACC tournament title with 101.5 team points.

VT had nine wrestlers finish in the top three in their respective weight class while true freshman Tom Crook finished fourth in a stacked bracket at 141.

While Tech as a team didn’t meet its overall goal in the ACC tournament, several Hokies had excellent outings.

No. 1 Mekhi Lewis (174) picked up the third ACC title of his career, clinging to victory in tiebreakers over NC State’s No. 2 Alex Faison, 2-1. He escaped the Wolfpack wrestler’s grasp in 14 seconds in the first half of the tiebreaker round, and he clung for dear life to Faison in the second half to secure the title.

“Hold him down,” Lewis said of his mindset going into the final minutes of the match. “[It was] that simple. Just hold him down.”

While Lewis’ championship added to his illustrious career, one of Tech’s younger grapplers earned his first ACC title. 

No. 1 Caleb Henson (149) was dominant in his first ACC tournament, tactically taking down UNC’s No. 5 Zach Sherman, 2-1, and NC State’s No. 2 Jackson Arrington, 4-2.

The true freshman built his win streak to nine on Sunday and cemented himself as one of the top wrestlers in the country at 149 pounds. He hopes to prove it even more at the NCAA tournament in two weeks.

“This was a building bridge to Tulsa,” Henson said. “Trained through [the tournament], eyes are really set on the national championship. No matter how I did here, the goal is to get on top of that podium in Tulsa.”

Henson and Lewis were both expected to make the finals at their respective weights, but one Hokie wrestler made an unlikely appearance in the 165 pound championship bout.

No. 4 Connor Brady forced his way into the finals after taking down UNC’s Joey Mazzara in the quarterfinals, 3-1, and upsetting Pitt’s No. 1 Holden Heller in the semis, 7-5.

A late takedown from UVa’s No. 2 Justin McCoy broke a 1-1 tie in the final 30 seconds of the championship match, ending Brady’s title hopes.

The redshirt sophomore was one of three Hokies to finish as a runner-up in Raleigh. No. 2 Eddie Ventresca (125) and No. 2 Bryce Andonian (157) both landed in second in their respective brackets.

Ventresca took down UNC’s No. 3 Jack Wagner for the second time in four weeks in the quarterfinals, 3-2. He suffered his first loss since January in the title bout to NC State’s No. 1 Jarrett Trombley, though, falling 3-1 in overtime.

Andonian nearly snagged his first ACC championship and his first career win over UNC’s No. 1 Austin O’Connor but couldn’t secure a late takedown. He finished in second at the tournament for the fourth time in his career and fell to 0-6 all-time against O’Connor.

Sam Latona (133), Hunter Bolen (184) and Andy Smith all finished lower than expected as No. 2 seeds in Raleigh. All three grapplers lost in the quarterfinals to opponents that they had beaten in the regular season and finished third in their respective weight classes. The outcome was disappointing for the trio, they received bids to the NCAA tournament regardless.

Entering as the No. 3 seed at heavyweight, Hunter Catka met expectations and finished third on Sunday. He went 3-1 on the tournament to earn the final NCAA tournament bid at heavyweight.

Virginia Tech now turns its attention to Tulsa, where the team will compete in the NCAA tournament beginning on March 16. With a full lineup in action, the Hokies will have a shot to take home a team trophy.


Final Team Standings

NC State 101.5
Virginia Tech 78.0
Pitt 60.0
North Carolina 37.0
Virginia 35.0
Duke 14.0

Eddie Ventresca: 125, Second

Decision vs. Jack Wagner (UNC), 3-2
Loss vs. Jarrett Trombley (NCSU), 3-1 SV

Sam Latona: 133, Third

Loss vs. Kai Orine (NCSU), 4-3
Decision vs. Jace Palmer (UNC), 10-6
Major Decision vs. Logan Agin (Duke), 13-2

Tom Crook: 141, Fourth

Decision vs. Dylan Cedeno (UVa), 4-2
Loss vs. Cole Matthews (Pitt), 6-3
Decision vs. Jarred Papcsy (Duke), 3-1 SV
Loss vs. Lachlan McNeil (UNC), 10-2

Caleb Henson: 149, Champion

Decision vs. Zach Sherman (UNC), 2-1
Decision vs. Jackson Arrington (NCSU), 4-2 

Bryce Andonian: 157, Second

Decision vs. Ed Scott (NCSU), 15-9
Loss vs. Austin O’Connor (UNC), 6-5

Connor Brady: 165, Second

Decision vs. Joey Mazzara (UNC), 3-1
Decision vs. Holden Heller (Pitt), 7-5
Loss vs. Justin McCoy (UVa), 3-1

Mekhi Lewis: 174, Champion

Major decision vs. Victor Marcelli (UVa), 15-3
Decision vs. Alex Faison (NCSU), 2-1 TB1

Hunter Bolen: 184, Third

Loss vs. Gavin Kane (UNC), 4-3
Decision vs. Neil Antrassian (UVa), 5-4
Decision vs. Reece Heller (Pitt), 7-5

Andy Smith: 197, Third

Loss vs. Isaac Trumble (NCSU), 6-1
Major decision vs. Vincent Baker (Duke), 16-5
Decision vs. Michael Battista (UVa), 3-1

Hunter Catka: 285, Third

Technical fall vs. Ethan Weatherspoon (UVa), 16-0
Loss vs. Owen Trephan (NCSU), 2-2 TB2
Decision vs. Brandon Whitman (UNC), 4-2
Decision vs. Ethan Weatherspoon (UVa), 3-0

7 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. REALLY impressed with Henson. It’s rare to see his skill (especially in a riding position) as a freshman. You probably can’t find a more unlikable group of posers (literally) than NC State, but they wrestled with more aggression across the weight classes, and the results speak for themselves.

  2. Someone on the wrestling board posted that all 10 wrestlers qualified in 2013, which is consistent with this article summarizing the first rounds of the 2013 tournament:

    Based on this article,

    it looks like we only got nine auto-bids and got the tenth wrestler in via an at-large bid. The NCAA usually saves a couple bids per weight class to hand out to top wrestlers that may have bombed in their conference tournaments.

  3. NC State is a crap program. They don’t wrestle. They are coached to get a lead and stall until the end of the match.

    1. Yeah, they cheat. They’ve only won five in a row. Get some better wrestlers and beat them. Simple answer!

    2. They are coached ….>
      Exactly. Unfortunately – it’s not entertaining nor illegal – but it helps maximize a chance to win. .

    3. We need the equivalent of a shot clock in basketball. An “attack clock”. Every time it expires, the opponent gets a point.

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