After winning its last four matches prior to its meet against No. 7 Central Michigan, the Virginia Tech wrestling team had climbed to No. 19 in the national rankings. However, despite a pair of shocking upsets, that streak ended on Friday night at the hands of the Chippewas, 21-17.
The meet kicked off with the 125-pound weight class and Tech’s No. 14 Jarrod Garnett was matched against No. 9 Matt Steintrager. While Garnett earned a late takedown in the match, it wasn’t enough to overcome an early 5-0 deficit, as the sophomore lost, 7-4.
After Garnett’s loss, which put the Hokies down 3-0, the outlook of the meet didn’t look any better. Tech sophomore Brock LiVorio was dominated by No. 9 Scotti Sentes in a 13-0 major decision to put the Hokies in a 7-0 hole.
“We were underdogs in both of those matches. I thought maybe the 125 might give us a spark, but we didn’t get the spark. I expected to be down going into the 141,” Tech head coach Kevin Dresser said.
Tech’s first ray of hope came with No. 10 Chris Diaz’s performance in the 141-pound class. Defeating his opponent to finally get the team on the board, Diaz won 7-4 thanks to a quick start in the first round that gave him a 4-1 lead.
Diaz’s win would be the first of four straight matches Tech would win.
The meet took an interesting turn in the next match when a heavy underdog, Tech freshman Brian Stephens defeated No. 11 Tony D’Alie despite going down 3-0 in the second round.
Stephens finished the second round with a pair of takedowns to tie things up and got another takedown with a three-point near fall to finish a run of nine straight points. Another late takedown all but sealed the shocker as Stephens went on to win 12-7 with an impressive upset.
“It was so exciting,” Stephens said. “That last few seconds, I was just kind of watching the clock. I can’t really describe the feeling.”
After No. 4 Jesse Dong discarded his opponent, Donnie Corby, with a 10-0 major decision, Tech was looking at another underdog situation in the next match.