BLACKSBURG - The Virginia Tech wrestling squad will face a challenging slate of opponents this weekend when it travels to Hampton for the 30th Annual Virginia Duals. The event, held in the Hampton Coliseum, is one of the top dual meet tournaments in the country.
Tech is 7-1 and ranked 24th in the country as a team, but is missing several key starters. That won’t make things any easier as the Hokies open with fourth-seeded and 14th-ranked Penn State Friday morning at 9 a.m. Tech will face either fifth-seeded Kent State or Drexel in its second match, which will be at 1 o’clock Friday, win or lose. Teams participating in the event are guaranteed a minimum of three matches.
The opening bout will feature two huge matchups, one at 125 pounds and one at 157 pounds. Tech’s Jarrod Garnett is ranked 13th in the country while PSU’s Brad Pataky is 12th at 125 pounds. Garnett pinned Pataky earlier in the year at the Penn State Open, but the match was back-and-forth before Garnett got the late fall.
At 157 pounds, Tech’s Jesse Dong is up to seventh in the country and will take on second-ranked Cyler Sanderson. The two haven’t met this season.
Tech could be missing several starters, including ones at 133, 149, 174 and heavyweight due to illness or injury. Friday could mark the official debut of freshman Brian Stephens, who had been wrestling unattached and trying to redshirt. But with the knee injury to Pete Yates sidelining him for a while, Stephens could get the call. He is 17-7 as an unattached wrestler this year.
“We’re really excited to be wrestling a quality program like Penn State right out of the chute,” said head coach Kevin Dresser. “Unfortunately, we’re nowhere near at full strength, but it is what it is and we have to do the best job we can. The Virginia Duals is great event, going into its 30th year. I went to it for 18 years as a high school coach and now as a college coach. It’s a really neat venue, there’s a lot of excitement and some of the best teams in the nation compete in it.”
This will be the 10th time the Hokies have participated in the Virginia Duals. They enter this year’s competition with a lifetime record of 9-19. For more information on the event, go to The Duals' Web site.
Below are the probable lineups for Tech’s opening match against Penn State, as submitted by the coaching staffs.
#24 Virginia Tech (7-1)
125: #13 Jarrod Garnett (11-3) or Schuyler Swanton (3-4)
133: Brock LiVorio (1-0) or Erik Spjut (7-5)
141: #12 Chris Diaz (14-3)
149: Brian Stephens (0-0) or Nick Murray (8-5)
157: #7 Jesse Dong (15-2) or Taylor Knapp (9-8)
165: Matt Epperly (8-4)
174: Anthony Trongone (9-4) or John Dickson (4-5)
184: Tommy Spellman (13-6)
197: Chris Penny (0-3) or Tim Miller (3-9)
#14 Penn State (6-1-1)
125: #12 Brad Pataky (14-4)
133: Bryan Pearsall (2-10) or Tyler Saltsman (3-5)
141: Adam Lynch (4-5)
149: #5 Frank Molinaro (18-0)
157: #2 Cyler Sanderson (16-1)
165: #8 Dan Vallimont (14-3)
174: Justin Ortega (5-7)
184: #14 David Erwin (16-4)
197: Clay Steadman (7-5)
285: #18 Cameron Wade (9-4)
Also, Cole Louks and Cameron Hurd will wrestle unattached at 141 pounds this weekend at the Pembroke Open.
For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Wrestling).