February 17, 2010
Hokies, Monarchs to meet in Salem
Battle of two top 25 Virginia teams kicks off big weekend in Southwest Virginia

BLACKSBURG - A big weekend in Southwest Virginia will kick off with a battle of two top 25 collegiate wrestling squads Thursday night as No. 14 Virginia Tech and No. 24 Old Dominion will meet at Andrew Lewis Middle School in Salem starting at 8 p.m. The dual meet will be the opening act to the Virginia Group A and AA high school state championships, which begin Friday at the Salem Civic Center.

Tech and ODU are old rivals that have battled over the years, but the Monarchs have held the upper hand of late, winning five straight. Tech’s last win in the series came in 2004, winning 29-12 at the UVa Duals in Charlottesville. ODU leads the series 23-9.

The Hokies will come into Thursday match with four wrestlers ranked in the latest InterMat polls while ODU has three. At 125 pounds, two of those ranked wrestlers will meet in No. 7 James Nicholson of ODU taking on No. 14 Jarrod Garnett of Tech. The two have not met this year, but Nicholson won 5-4 last year in the dual meet at Norfolk.

Tech’s Chris Diaz (10th at 141), Jesse Dong (fifth at 157) and Tommy Spellman (18th at 184) are also ranked by InterMat while freshman Brian Stephens is ranked in two other polls at 149 pounds. Chris Brown is ranked 13th at 165 pounds and Jesse Strawn is ranked 19th at 197 pounds for the Monarchs.

Due to the setup at the middle school, there will be no live stats for this event, but results will be poster on hokiesports.com shortly after the match is over.

Below are the probable lineups for both squads as submitted by the respective coaching staffs.

#14 Virginia Tech (16-5)
125: #14 Jarrod Garnett (19-5)
133: Brock LiVorio (9-4)
141: #10 Chris Diaz (25-3)
149: Brian Stephens (20-10)
157: #5 Jesse Dong (29-3)
165: Matt Epperly (20-8)
174: Taylor Knapp (11-15)
184: #18 Tommy Spellman (24-9)
197: Chris Penny (3-14)
285: Tim Miller (3-15)

#24 Old Dominion (10-4-1)
125: #7 James Nicholson (27-1)
133: Justin LaValle (15-10)
141: Craig Wilson (17-11)
149: Cam Watkins (9-12), John Nicholson (22-7) or Brennan Brumley (17-9)
157: Joey Sheridan (13-15)
165: #13 Chris Brown (28-3)
174: Eric Decker (22-11)
184: Joe Budi (17-12)
197: #19 Jesse Strawn (28-6)
285: Grant Chapman (13-20) or Jack Burbank (4-7)

For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Wrestling).

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