It was a dominant showing Sunday afternoon in Blacksburg for the No. 11 Virginia Tech wrestling team as they defeated visiting No. 19 Stanford, 29-7 to close out the 2023 dual meet season at home.
Redshirt sophomore Cooper Flynn was pulled out of Olympic redshirt and upset No. 4 Nico Provo to highlight the Hokies’ victory that saw seven other Tech wrestlers pick up victories on the afternoon.
Cooper Flynn was to take an Olympic redshirt this season for the Hokies – that all changed when he took on Stanford’s No. 4 Nico Provo on Sunday afternoon. The Hokie redshirt sophomore put the country on notice with a 5-2 decision victory over the Cardinal who is just two weeks removed from winning the 2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. In a highly tactical chess match, Flynn managed to lead early via a stall point against Provo and wouldn’t look back as he pushed his lead in the second period with lone takedown of the bout in the second period. Flynn would manage an escape in the third and show his stalwart defense in the closing frame to upset the No. 4 wrestler in the country and open the dual with a win for the Hokies.
Another Hokie making his season debut on Sunday afternoon was fan-favorite, Cody Howard. Howard toed the line at 184-pounds against highly-touted recruit Jack Darrah in what proved to be another trademark Junk Yard Dog performance. The Hokie redshirt senior showed Tech fans his relentless motor to the tune of four takedowns to secure the 13-3 major decision win for the home team and would effectively seal the dual.
Newly graduated Hokie, No. 26 Connor Brady, picked up an upset victory over No. 16 Hunter Garvin in a controlling bout at 165-pounds. In a bounce back showing after a disappointing Cliff Keen invitational, Brady flashed promising offense in each period – securing an early high crotch takedown to open the bout and would add two more takedowns plus an escape to notch the 10-3 victory over the higher-ranked Stanford Cardinal.
Securing another win over a ranked opponent – his second over the same foe – was freshman Sonny Sasso. Sasso took on No. 14 at 197-pounds Nick Stemmet in what was a rematch from the consolation bout at Cliff Keen in what was a very different bout compared to their last meeting. In Las Vegas, Sasso secured an early takedown and four swipes en route to an eventual first period fall. Sunday afternoon proved to be a grittier performance for the Hokie as he would battle to an 8-4 decision that saw him secure the victory late in the match. Sasso would secure the first takedown of bout off a counter, Stemmet would add two reversals to take the lead, but it was the young Hokie who would find an escape to take the lead and secure a gritty takedown to ice the win for his fifth-ranked win of the season.
At 133-pounds, No. 6 Sam Latona returned to action after a sustained injury at the NWCA All-Star Classic with a dominant 12-3 major decision against No. 16 Tyler Knox. Latona kept momentum rolling with an early takedown to lead the Cardinal in the first period and would then add a reversal plus another takedown in the second period to push his lead. Latona would then jump at the opportunity to push for bonus points for the team with another well-timed takedown and secure the riding time point in the third period to push the dual to a 7-0 lead.
It was a battle between familiar faces to Bound Brook, New Jersey as No. 2 Mekhi Lewis returned to the mat since the All-Star Classic to face No. 20 Lorenzo Norman at 174-pounds. After a scoreless first period, it was Lewis finding an escape and then finding a takedown of his own via absurd defense to close out the second period. The Cardinal would elect to start the final period in neutral which Lewis capitalized on to pick up a takedown and secure riding time advantage en route to the 8-0 major decision, giving the Hokies their third bonus point win of the afternoon.
Moving up to No. 2 in the country at 149-pounds after a strong Cliff Keen showing, Caleb Henson continued his strong sophomore season with a 20-5 pummeling over Stanford’s Dawson Sihavong. Henson started early with a quick takedown but would give up a reversal in the first thirty seconds of the bout. From there it was all action for the Hitman – racking up five takedowns and a stall point to effectively end the bout at 5:38 via technical fAt heavyweight it was No. 20 Hunter Catka closing it out for the Hokies with a controlling 8-4 decision over Peter Ming. Catka secured two takedowns and over 2:30 of riding time to handedly defeat the Stanford Cardinal and give the Hokies the exclamation point on the dual victory.
Virginia Tech Athletics