Five Hokies Named All-Americans, Virginia Tech Wrestling Finishes Ninth In Tulsa

Hokies true freshman Caleb Henson placed fifth and was one of five All-Americans for VT in Tulsa. (Virginia Tech athletics)

After being one of only four teams to send a full lineup to the NCAA tournament in Tulsa, Virginia Tech wrestling finished the weekend with five All-Americans. VT placed ninth with a cumulative team score of 49 points, landing in the top 10 for the second-straight year.

The team’s five All-Americans is its second-most in the tournament in its history behind the 2017 squad.

While the Hokies went into the tournament seeking a team trophy, Tech had some remarkable individual performances. 

Here’s a more in-depth look at how half of Virginia Tech’s lineup earned top-eight finishes in Tulsa.

125: No. 27 Eddie Ventresca

Up until VT’s dual against UNC on February 10, Ventresca didn’t have the starting spot locked up at 125 pounds. Since that day, he’s won seven of his 10 bouts, including four at the NCAA tournament to finish as an All-American.

The redshirt freshman’s rocky regular season gave him the No. 27 seed to enter the weekend, but he quickly showed he was much better than the ranking, upsetting Northern Colorado’s No. 6 Stevo Poulin (4-2 SV) and Minnesota’s No. 11 Pat McKee (4-2) in the first two rounds.

After losing to Nebraska’s No. 3 Liam Cronin in overtime in the quarterfinals 3-1, Ventresca added another top-10 victory over Wisconsin’s No. 9 Eric Barnett (3-1) to clinch an All-American finish in Tulsa.

Sam Latona finished seventh and got revenge on two ACC wrestlers at the NCAA tournament. (Virginia Tech athletics)

133: No. 6 Sam Latona

Latona’s path to his second All-American finish of his career was filled with revenge over wrestlers who had bested him during the year, as well as allowing a few of his opponents to do the same.

The Alabama native won his first two matches of the tournament against Wisconsin’s No. 27 Taylor LaMont and Air Force’s No. 22 Cody Phippen before losing to Cornell’s No. 3 Vito Arujau in the quarterfinals. He beat Arujau in the regular season back in January, 3-2.

Following the loss, Latona tackled a pair ACC foes whom he was beaten by at least once this season. In the consolation blood round, he took down Pitt’s No. 9 Micky Phillippi for the second-straight time, before defeating NC State’s No. 5 Kai Orine in the seventh-place match. He lost to Orine at the ACC tournament two weeks prior.

149: No. 4 Caleb Henson

One of Virginia Tech’s youngest wrestlers proved himself as one of the program’s best in Tulsa, earning All-American status in his first NCAA tournament appearance.

Seeded No. 4 heading into the tournament — the highest-ever for a true freshman in VT wrestling history — he was upset in the second round by Indiana’s No. 20 Graham Rooks, 5-4. 

Showing veteran poise following the loss, the Georgia native tore through the consolation bracket, going 5-1 in his final six bouts. He took down the likes of Northwestern’s No. 7 Thomas Yahya (7-2) and Missouri’s No. 6 Brock Mauller (6-4) on his way to defeating Iowa’s No. 8 Max Murin by major decision in the fifth-place match, 12-3.

Bryce Andonian finished seventh for the Hokies after knocking off a few Big Ten challengers. (Virginia Tech athletics)

157: No. 7 Bryce Andonian

The victim of a quick count in the quarterfinals, Andonian was knocked out of the championship bracket by Penn State’s No. 2 Levi Haines (6:12).

Needing a run in the consolation bracket to earn All-American honors in back-to-back seasons, he delivered.

The senior from Kirtland, Ohio responded with a pin of his own against Michigan State’s No. 11 Chase Saldate (6:22) in the consolation blood round. Two bouts later, he secured seventh place with a narrow 6-4 decision win over Michigan’s No. 9 Will Lewan.

174: No. 3 Mekhi Lewis

Lewis charged through the first three rounds of the tournament, collecting wins over Rutgers’ No. 30 Jackson Turley (2-1), Northwestern’s No. 19 Troy Fisher (5-4) and Iowa’s No. 11 Nelson Brands (2-0).

He suffered his first loss of the tournament to Nebraska’s No. 2 Mikey Labriola in overtime in the semifinals, 3-1. Lewis earned a spot in the third-place match after handling Oklahoma State’s No. 5 Dustin Plott (8-2), but was the victim of another extra-period loss in the podium match. He fell to Cornell’s No. 4 Chris Foca in overtime, 3-2, to finish fourth.

Other results:

No. 7 Hunter Bolen wrapped up his Virginia Tech career with a 2-2 outing in Tulsa. He won his first two matches but fell to a pair of ACC foes (NC State’s No. 2 Trent Hidlay, 5-0, and North Carolina’s No. 11 Gavin Kane, 4-3) and got bounced in the consolation blood round.

Both No. 15 Tom Crook (141) and No. 23 Connor Brady (165) nabbed wins in the consolation bracket after losing in the opening round. Each were knocked out of the tournament a round later.

No. 21 Andy Smith (197) and No. 22 Hunter Catka (285) each finished 0-2 in Tulsa.

True freshman Eddie Ventresca, who was on fire for the last month, fared well in Tulsa. (Virginia Tech athletics)

What’s next:

Virginia Tech enters the offseason coming off its best tournament in terms of overall All-American since 2017. 

With Bolen out of eligibility and Lewis’ future still undecided, VT will have to find potential replacements and continue to build in order to maintain its upward trajectory. 


125: No. 27 Eddie Ventresca, Seventh place

Round one (W): dec. Northern Colorado’s No. 6 Stevo Poulin, 4-2 (SV)
Round two (W): dec. Minnesota’s No. 11 Pat McKee, 4-2
Quarterfinals (L): dec. Nebraska’s No. 3 Liam Cronin, 3-1 (SV)
Consolation blood round (W): dec. Wisconsin’s No. 9 Eric Barnett, 3-1
Consolation quarterfinals (L): dec. Arizona State’s No. 10 Brandon Courtney, 4-2
Seventh-place match (W): dec. West Virginia’s No. 28 Killian Cardinale, 7-6

133: No. 6 Sam Latona, Seventh place

Round one (W): dec. Wisconsin’s No. 27 Taylor LaMont, 3-1 (SV)
Round two (W): dec. Air Force’s No. 22 Cody Phippen, 2-1
Quarterfinals (L): dec. Cornell’s No. 3 Vito Arujau, 8-5
Consolation blood round (W): dec. Pitt’s No. 9 Micky Phillippi, 5-1
Consolation quarterfinals (L): dec. Ohio State’s No. 13 Jesse Mendez, 2-1 (TB1)
Seventh-place match (W): dec. NC State’s No. 5 Kai Orine, 3-1

141: No. 15 Tom Crook

Round one (L): dec. Northwestern’s No. 18 Frankie Tal-Shahar, 3-1 (SV)
Consolation round one (W): dec. Wisconsin’s No. 31 Joseph Zargo, 4-2 (SV)
Consolation round two (L): maj dec. Ohio State’s No. 17 Dylan D’Emilio, 10-0

149: No. 4 Caleb Henson, Fifth place

Round one (W): dec. Bucknell’s No. 29 Dylan Chappell, 6-1
Round two (L): dec. Indiana’s No. 20 Graham Rooks, 5-4
Consolation round two (W): dec. Central Michigan’s No. 19 Johnny Lovett, 5-3 (SV)
Consolation round three (W): dec. Penn’s No. 11 Doug Zapf, 3-2
Consolation blood round (W): dec. Northwestern’s No. 7 Thomas Yahya, 7-2
Consolation quarterfinals (W): dec. Missouri’s No. 6 Brock Mauller, 6-4
Consolation semifinals (L): dec. Penn State’s No. 12 Shane Van Ness, 5-3
Fifth-place match (W): maj dec. Iowa’s No. 8 Max Murin, 12-3

157: No. 7 Bryce Andonian, Seventh place

Round one (W): dec. Ohio’s No. 26 Peyten Keller, 7-6
Round two (W): maj dec. Oklahoma State’s No. 10 Kaden Gfeller, 11-3
Quarterfinals (L): lose by fall Penn State’s No. 2 Levi Haines, 6:12
Consolation blood round (W): win by fall Michigan State’s No. 11 Chase Saldate, 6:22
Consolation quarterfinals (L): lose by fall NC State’s No. 8 Ed Scott, 6:55
Seventh-place match (W): dec. Michigan’s No. 9 Will Lewan, 6-4

165: No. 23 Connor Brady

Round one (L): dec. Ohio State’s No. 10 Carson Kharchla, 2-1
Consolation round one (W): dec. Binghamton’s No. 26 Brevin Cassella, 5-0
Consolation round two (L): dec. Nebraska’s No. 25 Bubba Wilson, 5-2

174: No. 3 Mekhi Lewis, Fourth place

Round one (W): dec. Rutgers’ No. 30 Jackson Turley, 2-1
Round two (W): dec. Northwestern’s No. 19 Troy Fisher, 5-4
Quarterfinals (W): dec. Iowa’s No. 11 Nelson Brands, 2-0
Semifinals (L): dec. Nebraska’s No. 2 Mikey Labriola, 3-1 (TB1)
Consolation semifinals (W): dec. Oklahoma State’s No. 5 Dustin Plott, 8-2
Third-place match (L): dec. Cornell’s No. 4 Chris Foca, 3-2 (TB1)

184: No. 7 Hunter Bolen

Round one (W): dec. Navy’s No. 26 David Key, 3-2
Round two (W): dec. Oklahoma State’s No. 10 Travis Wittlake, 6-1
Quarterfinals (L): dec. NC State’s No. 2 Trent Hidlay, 5-0
Consolation blood round (L): dec. North Carolina’s No. 11 Gavin Kane, 4-3 

197: No. 21 Andy Smith

Round one (L): lose by fall Illinois’ No. 12 Zach Braunagel, 3:59
Consolation round one (L): dec. Navy’s No. 28 Jake Koser, 6-4

285: No. 22 Hunter Catka

Round one (L): dec. Wisconsin’s No. 11 Trent Hillger, 2-0
Consolation round one (L): dec. Penn’s No. 27 Ben Goldin, 5-2

15 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Jack, your articles have been excellent all season…thank you!

    A bit disappointing for some of the guys, but CONGRATULATIONS to the 5 All- Americans!

  2. Great article Jack! Wrestling is an awesome sport wich gets little respect unless you attended a school that has a focus on it. Well done!

  3. Major congrats to all the wrestlers and coaches for a great season and especially those being named All Americans- what a great honor.

  4. Good finish to the year by VT wrestling. Could’ve been even better. Latona beating the Wolfpack hotdog Kai Orine was a highlight. Bryce Andonian had a near fall in the first period against Penn State freshman phenom Levi Haines but couldn’t complete the pin. Andonian ran out of gas and Haines rallied to win; and went on to finish second. Lewis battled injuries to both hands, at least one of which was a dislocated or hyper-extended middle finger incurred during his quarterfinal win. Who knows how his tournament would’ve ended had he been healthy? Nevertheless, a great effort by the team!

  5. Jack, I am fairly new to VT/college wrestling. Your coverage this year was fantastic and much appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Check the Wrestling Board. Will posted the final rankings. Big 10? finished with 5 teams in the top 10 (PSU took 1st by a wide margin). ACC had Tech and NCS as 9 and 10 respectively (got revenge for the ACC Tourney) and then the other three places went to Ivy League (3rd), SEC(5th) and Pac10(7th) in that order. Respectable if just a little disappointing.

      1. editing note:

        5th Place Missouri actually wrestles in the Big 12 (the SEC does not have wrestling)

        Pac 12 Arizona State actually finished 6th. There are only six Pac 12 wrestling schools, with ASU, Oregon State, and Stanford being the only all Pac 12 schools that also have wrestling (Cal Poly, CSU Bakersfield, and Little Rock are the other three schools)

        Question – does anyone know if Sam Latona has eligibility remaining?

        1. Looks like Sam has another year if he wants it. He has wrestled four seasons, but one of those was a COVID year, so he has another one if he so desires.

    2. I just embedded the final team standings at the top.

      It’s going to be a long time before anyone beats Penn State again. A really, really long time.

Comments are closed.