The Virginia Tech wrestling team won the final four matches of the evening and that propelled the No. 5 Hokies to a 22-15 victory over No. 6 Nebraska in an NWCA National Duals event held in front of 1,295 fans at Virginia Tech Carilion Court on Sunday.
With the win, Tech moved to 18-1 overall on the season and beat the Cornhuskers for the first time in four attempts. The Hokies also moved to 8-1 against ranked opponents this season. Nebraska fell to 12-4 on the year.
“I’ve sat on the bench in a lot of dual meets and to see the type of effort we made … even guys like Kevin Norstrem, who just got back into the lineup, and a guy like Sal Mastriani that was right there – we can’t have moral victories – but right there with the third-ranked guy in the nation,” Tech coach Kevin Dresser said. “This team is solid. This team is peaking.
“From a coaching standpoint, I take my hat off to my staff. They’ve done an unbelievable job of developing the talent we’ve got there. It was super exciting.”
Tech trailed 15-6 after Nebraska’s Dustin Williams pinned Ryan Blees at 165 pounds. But the Hokies didn’t lose again.
At 174 pounds, David Bergida – subbing in for an injured Zach Epperly – rallied for a 13-8 win over Nebraska’s Justin Arthur. A redshirt senior playing in his final match at Cassell Coliseum, Bergida trailed 6-2 in the second period, but used a reversal and a near fall to take the lead. He added another reversal and near fall in the third period to pull away.
“I’ve been dying to get a big win in Cassell and I finally got it,” said Bergida, who normally wrestles at 165 pounds, but improved his record to 12-14 on the season. “This was my last match in Cassell, too. Just hearing the crowd erupt meant a lot. I just thought, ‘Go out there and wrestle my match, whether it was 165 or 174.’ That’s all I really cared about – just wrestling my match.”
Bergida’s win seemed to spark the Hokies. At the next weight class, Zack Zavatsky easily bested Nebraska’s Eric Engler at 184 pounds. He led 8-1 before pinning Engler and tying things at 15. Zavatsky, the No. 6-ranked wrestler nationally at 184, moved to 22-2 on the season.
At 197, Tech’s Jared Haught won a tough match over Nebraska’s Aaron Studebaker. Both wrestlers recorded an escape before the match went into overtime. But a Haught reversal was the difference, as the redshirt junior – ranked No. 3 nationally in his weight class – won 3-2 (TB-1) and moved to 22-2 on the season.
Haught’s win gave the Hokies an 18-15 advantage heading into the final match of the evening. At heavyweight, Tech’s Ty Walz dominated Nebraska’s Collin Jensen, recording a 15-5 major decision in his final home match. His seven takedowns enabled him to move to 20-2 on the season.
Tech’s other two victories came at 125 and 149 pounds. At 125, the Hokies’ Joey Dance continued his strong season. Dance took the lead on Nebraska’s Tim Lambert with a takedown early in the third period and then used a near fall to grab a 7-3 lead. Lambert got an escape, but that was it the rest of the way, as Dance, the No. 3-ranked wrestler nationally at 125 pounds, registered a 7-4 win and moved to 23-1 on the season.
At 149, the Hokies’ Solomon Chishko won 8-5 over Collin Purinton. Chishko used a first-period takedown and near fall to jump out to the lead and then held it the rest of the match. The No. 6 wrestler nationally at 149 pounds moved to 19-3 on the season.
The Hokies now prepare for the ACC Championships, which will be held at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 4.
— Courtesy of VT Athletics