In almost a mirror image of last year’s ACC wrestling championships, Virginia Tech placed six competitors in the finals, came out with several champions, and yet still walked away without a trophy on Saturday at the John Paul Jones Arena.
The Hokies, who finished second place only to the Maryland Terrapins, were seeded to send six wrestlers to the NCAA Championships on automatic bids, but ended up with just four automatic qualifiers.
Jarrod Garnett (125), Devin Carter (133) and Jesse Dong (157) all entered the tournament as No. 1 seeds, and finished as such. Garnett and Dong won their second straight titles.
Garnett and Carter, who both earned first round byes, wrestled only two matches on the day, in the semifinal and final rounds. Garnett won his first match on a tough fought 5-0 decision over NC State’s Mike Moreno. That would set him up for a showdown with UVa’s Matt Snyder, who gave him quite a run for his money in their dual meet back in February.
Much like that meeting, Snyder kept it close down to the final second, and the match went into sudden death with the score tied at four. But, once again, Garnett earned a takedown shortly into the period, making him a two-time ACC Champion.
Although it was the freshman Carter’s first time at the meet, his performance said otherwise. He dominated both his opponents; first pinning UNC’s Pat Owens 1:57 into their match, then manhandling UVa’s Joe Spisak 19-4 in the final, giving him his third technical fall of the season.
Dong gave everyone a scare in his first round bout with No. 6 seed Ryan Harding from Duke. After taking the lead 7-3, it looked for a moment as if Harding might actually pin Dong, much to the delight of every fan in attendance, excluding Hokies, of course.
But, that near letdown was more than enough to motivate Dong, as he scored the next nine points before pinning Harding midway through the second round. He went on to defeat Colton Palmer of NC State in the semis before taking the crown with a 6-3 decision over Maryland’s Kyle John.
Pete Yates (165), Chris Penny (197) and David Marone (285) all came out as the runner-ups of their respective weight classes. Unfortunately for Penny and Marone, the ACC’s 197- and 285-pound weight classes only get one automatic qualifying bid, leaving them on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAAs in two weeks.