CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The 12th-ranked and seventh-seeded Virginia Tech wrestling squad upset third-seeded and fourth-ranked Wisconsin 20-19 Sunday in the semifinals of the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals inside the UNI-Dome on the campus of Northern Iowa. Wisconsin won six of 10 matches, but it was the bonus points earned by the Hokies in their four wins that propelled them to the championship match.
Jarrod Garnett got things off to a good start at 125 pounds with a 12-3 major decision over Tom Kelliher. He used three takedowns, a reversal and a nearfall combo to pick up the four team points for the Hokies. In a match where no offensive points were scored, No. 3 Tyler Graff of Wisconsin edged No. 8 Devin Carter 2-1 at 133 pounds.
Senior Chris Diaz picked up a historic win with an 18-2 technical fall over Daniel Arnel. The victory was the 100th of his career, making him just the fifth wrestler in Tech history to pick up 100 career wins. At 149 pounds, Brian Stephens dropped a heartbreaker to No. 10 Cole Schmitt. He gave up two takedowns in the first period, but battled back to tie it up at 5-5. But Schmitt got an escape with one second left to pick up the 6-5 victory. Jesse Dong gave Tech a 15-6 lead with a pin at the 2:05 mark over Kalvin York at 157 pounds.
Second-ranked Andrew Howe of Wisconsin pick up four team points for the Badgers with a 13-5 major decision over Tech’s Pete Yates at 165 pounds. Matt Epperly wrestled well again at 174 pounds, this time picking up a technical fall with a takedown and three nearfall points late in the match. He beat Shawn Perry 19-4 to make it 20-10 in favor of the Hokies with three matches left.
Wisconsin then sent a pair of ranked wrestlers to the mat to try and make a comeback for the win in the final three matches. At 184 pounds, fifth-ranked Travis Rutt beat Tech’s Tommy Spellman 2-0 with an escape and riding time to make it 20-13. Derrick Borlie defeated Tech’s Chris Penny, 7-3, to bring the Badgers within four points with one match left. Eighteenth-ranked Eric Bugenhagen downed Tech’s David Marone 3-2, but it wasn’t enough as the Hokies held on to advance to the championship match.
With the win, Tech will now wrestle top-seeded Cornell at 4 p.m. (Eastern), 3 p.m. local in the championship match. In their last two matches, they have beaten the Nos. 2 and 4 teams in the country and will now have to face the No. 1 team in the country in the finals.
#12 Virginia Tech 20, #4 Wisconsin 19
125: #11 Jarrod Garnett (VT) maj. dec. Tom Kelliher, 12-3
133: #3 Tyler Graff (W) dec. #8 Devin Carter, 3-2
141: #5 Chris Diaz (VT) tech fall Daniel Arnel, 18-2 (4:32)
149: #10 Cole Schmitt (W) dec. #9 Brian Stephens, 6-5
157: #5 Jesse Dong (VT) fall Kalvin York, 2:05
165: #2 Andrew Howe (W) maj. dec. #14 Pete Yates, 13-5
174: Matt Epperly (VT) tech fall Shawn Perry, 19-4 (7:00)
184: #5 Travis Rutt (W) dec. #16 Tommy Spellman, 2-0
197: Derrick Borlie (W) dec. Chris Penny, 7-3
285: #18 Eric Bugenhagen (W) dec. David Marone, 3-2
For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Wrestling).