Coach Tony Robie is beginning to see the fruits of his labor pay off. His strong recruiting efforts over the past three years became eye-opening on the mat Friday night against the Pittsburgh Panthers. The No. 16 Panthers are no slouch of a team, as they boast multiple reigning ACC champions and own the top-25 rank for a reason. They would be the only thing standing in between Virginia Tech and an undefeated season in addition to an ACC dual meet championship. Even though the always dominant Korbin Myers did not wrestle, the Hokies got out to a hot start and never looked back.
No. 5 Sam Latona picked up where he left off, defeating another Camacho (this time Colton Camacho) in a lopsided major decision 12-3. Putting points on the board first has been a mantra that the Hokies have lived by throughout the season and it has paid off big time, especially since they can rely upon battle-tested No. 1 Mekhi Lewis and No. 2 Hunter Bolen for a tough match.
With the quick 14-3 team lead, up next would be freshman Connor Brady against ODU transfer Tyler Badgett. Many knew that Brady could hold his own, especially after giving N.C. State’s Hayden Hidlay a run for his money, but he made a statement Friday night. Brady got extremely physical within seconds, wasting no time to secure the underhook which in turn translated into a takedown. Brady leveraged his opponent’s body towards the ground, his strength on display as he cranked his arm and secured four near-fall points. Brady won the match decisively in a 12-1 major decision, putting the dual on ice.
The matchup of the night, though, was between the reigning ACC champion, No. 9 Jake Wentzel and No. 1 Mekhi Lewis, a national champion. Off the bat, Wentzel got physical with Lewis, grabbing a foot and carrying around the leg of Lewis for a good minute or so. A familiar situation appeared in the national championship match between Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph and Lewis, with Lewis overcoming the uncomfortable position. Wentzel played it perfectly, waiting for the right time to strike as he lifted Lewis’ leg above his head sharply and took him to the ground for two. Wentzel would ride Lewis for quite some time, not allowing him up from the mat until everyone watching could hear Lewis scream out in agony. Wincing and gripping his shoulder, the trainer gave him a once over and Lewis entered the match again, obviously in pain. Wentzel would not let up, but it was obvious the match was over. Lewis would lose his first collegiate match by injury default as Wentzel could be seen throwing a fit on the sideline, chucking his head-gear, obviously frustrated.
Following Lewis’ match, junkyard dog Dakota Howard put a beatdown on his opponent, reigning ACC champion Jared McGill. Howard secured the tech fall, almost pinning McGill on multiple occasions. Howard could be seen sprinting into the locker room following his tech fall victory, most likely to check on Lewis.
Virginia Tech secured its eighth ACC Dual Meet Championship, defeating Pitt 27-12 in what was a magical season for the Hokies. Boasting their seventh undefeated season, and their first since 1956, the Hokies will look to the ACC tournament in Raleigh, NC, for their next test with Lewis hopefully participating.