The No. 23-ranked Virginia Tech wrestling team took care of business against the North Carolina Tar Heels Sunday afternoon, winning 29-12 and improving its ACC record to 4-1 for the season.
After the first five matches, the Hokies were down 12-7, but they went on to win out and get a technical fall from No. 1-ranked Devin Carter (133 lbs) and a pin from No. 20 Zach Neibert (141 lbs).
Although shy of breaking the record for attendance at a wrestling match in Cassell Coliseum, the 2,422 fans made their presence apparent in crucial situations, helping propel the Hokies to key wins during the meet.
“We won a couple matches there because of the crowd,” said Kevin Dresser, head coach. “You know that Hokie Nation is good. I am glad they came out; I appreciate them.”
The afternoon’s first match saw unranked junior Cameron Hurd (157 lbs) almost come up with a huge upset against UNC’s 19th-ranked Corey Mock. After getting taken down at the beginning of the first and second rounds, Hurd came up with two big reversals to keep it close.
Down by two points, Hurd went for the takedown with just seconds remaining. But he was unable to get position for the points and lost the match 8-6.
Tech went 2-2 in the next four matches, including an 8-0 win by No. 8 Pete Yates (165 lbs), giving the Tar Heels a 12-7 lead. Heavyweight Chris Penny then gave Tech a big win, followed by 125-pounder Ty Mitch getting a major decision, putting the Hokies back on top.
The top-ranked Carter came to the mat, dominated his opponent and got a technical fall, using his speed to get easy takedowns and an armbar to score a majority of his points.
“I knew the kid from North Carolina wasn’t that good, and I had to get bonus points for the team, so I figured I’d just run the bar,” Carter said.
Coming in as the underdog, Neibert came away with Tech’s only pin of the day in the second round against 18th-ranked Evan Henderson. From the beginning, Neibert dominated the match, using Coach Dresser’s advice and tiring out Henderson.
“The first couple of times it was all about scoring points,” Neibert said. “I know when you put someone in a position like that they are bound to get tired.”
Shortly into the second period, Neibert got a takedown and continued working on Henderson getting another near fall. Neibert kept working at it, wearing down Henderson enough to get both shoulder blades on the mat and to pick up the pin for the Hokies.
“Its like what coach Dresser tells us: ‘No matter who you are, you can’t chop down a tree with one swing,’” Neibert said. “It was repetitive, and I kept trying it — (I) got in different positions to make him more weary of where I was being, so I set myself up and chopped away at the tree.”
In the final match, Nick Brascetta (149 lbs) was down by a point and got a takedown after a reset with only five seconds left in the match to secure a win.
After two consecutive impressive wins, coach Dresser was ecstatic about how Brascetta and Neibert performed.
“Its great Zach and Nick are a good one-two punch for us,” Dresser said.
The Hokies wrestling team faces two tough challenges next week at No. 12 Oklahoma on Friday and their last home match of the season against No. 25 ODU at 6 p.m. on Sunday in Cassell.
“Well it doesn’t get it any easier, it gets tougher next week,” Dresser said. “We’ve got one more week. We’ve been grinding, and then we get a week off, and we are going to need it. But we have one more week to get it done.”