COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Virginia Tech wrestling squad rebounded from a rough outing Friday night in a loss to No. 16 Rutgers with a come-from-behind 18-17 conference win over Maryland Sunday afternoon at the Comcast Pavillion. Trailing by two points heading into the final bout, junior heavyweight David Marone came through in the clutch with a 5-3 win to claim the victory for the Hokies.
"We sucked it up as a team and I think we learned that there is nothing automatic when you wrestle at the highest level," head coach Kevin Dresser said. "Maryland has a very good team. College wrestling has more parity now than any time in the history of our sport. We have to be ready every week."
The match got started at 125 pounds, where 13th-ranked Jarrod Garnett had little trouble with freshman Shane Gentry, beating him 9-6. He used a pair of takedowns in each of the first two periods to pick up the win. Devin Carter, ranked eighth in the country at 133 pounds, gave up a takedown early to senior Lou Ruland, but responded with a two takedowns and a nearfall combination to end the period. He took Ruland down three times in the second period to stretch his lead out. In the third stanza, he picked up three more takedowns and was on the verge of a technical fall, but put Ruland to his back and picked up the pin at the 6:26 mark. Those extra points for the fall would end up being huge by the time everything was said and done.
At 141 pounds, 13th-ranked Chris Diaz dropped his second dual match of the weekend, falling to unranked Jon Kohler 12-0. Kohler got a takedown and three nearfall points in the first period to take a quick 5-0 lead, which Diaz was unable to overcome. Kohler took him down again in the second after Diaz chose neutral and in the third period, Kohler got an escape, a takedown, a penalty point for Diaz’s stalling and a point for almost five minutes of riding time to roll to the major decision.
Brian Stephens, ranked eighth in the country at 149 pounds, fell behind early to freshman Ben Dorsay in the first period after Dorsay took him downed and turned him for three back points. Stephens eventually reversed him and took him down three times in the second period to fight back and tie it up at 10 heading to the final period. In the third, Stephens chose neutral and got a takedown midway through for his first lead. He got a point for riding time to cap off an impressive rally and a 13-11 win.
Jesse Dong wasted no time at 157 pounds, taking down No. 13 Kyle John just nine seconds into the match and threw the legs in to ride him for the rest of the period. Dong chose down to start the second period and quickly reversed John for a 4-0 lead and then again rode him for the rest of the period. Dong let John escape to start the third with nearly five minutes of riding time accrued giving him the bonus point for riding time. He took him down again late in the period to seal the impressive 7-1 win over a ranked foe. Fifth-ranked Josh Asper of Maryland then downed 15th-ranked Pete Yates at 165 pounds, 9-1. Asper got a takedown in both the first and second periods to take a 5-1 lead and in the third period, turned Yates for critical back points late that allowed him to pick up the major decision.
Maryland then trotted out is third straight ranked wrestler with No. 17 Mike Letts at 174 pounds to take on Tech’s Matt Epperly. After a scoreless first period, Epperly escaped 32 seconds in to take a 1-0 lead. Letts got an escape quickly in the third period to tie it up and got a take down with 30 seconds. He turned Epperly to his back for three points and Epperly reversed him late, but it wasn’t enough as Letts picked up the 6-2 win to cut the Hokies’ lead to four with three matches left.
Corey Peltier made it a one-point match with a 7-1 decision over John Dickson at 184 pounds. Peltier got a pair of takedowns to take a 5-0 lead into the third period. Dickson escaped, but Peltier got a penalty point and point for riding time to claim the bout.
With an 11-point lead dwindled down to just a single point, Chris Penny took to the mat for the Hokies at 197 pounds but fell to Christian Boley 10-9 in a hard-fought bout. He trailed 3-2 early, but reversed Boley late in the first period to take a 4-3 lead. Boley escaped in the second period and got a takedown to take the lead back. Penny eventually reversed him to tie it up, but Boley got the escape with three seconds left in the period to take a 7-6 lead into the final stanza. Penny chose down and escaped 46 seconds in and got a takedown with 46 seconds left. Boley escaped and got a takedown of his own with 19 seconds left and held Penny down to hold on for the wild 10-9 win and give Maryland its first lead of the day.
The hopes of both teams then came down to the heavyweights in the final match: Marone for Tech and Spencer Myers for Maryland. The two battled to a scoreless draw in the first period. Marone escaped early on in the second and got a big takedown to take a 3-0 lead. Myers escaped early on to make it 3-2, but Marone came up big with another takedown to all but ice it. Myers escaped, but couldn’t get in on Marone as the junior picked up the huge 5-3 to win it all for the Hokies. It marks the second time this season Marone has picked up a win when the dual match was on the line as he got a win against Oklahoma State to seal that upset.
Tech has now won 12 straight ACC dual matches dating back to 2008. With the win, the Hokies improved to 14-4 overall, 2-0 in the ACC. Maryland fell to 9-4, 0-1 in the league. Both teams won five matches, but it was Carter’s three bonus points for the pin compared to Maryland’s two for the two major decisions that proved to be the difference in the closer-than-expected bout.
"It was a great job by Devin Carter, Jesse Dong and David Marone," Dresser said. "Matt Epperly also did a great job in a losing effort. He can really help this team if he continues his ways. He has a great attitude right now. He could have easily gotten a call today and won that match."
The Hokies will be back in action next weekend, hosting No. 17 Lehigh - which knocked off No. 1 Cornell earlier this week - on Friday night at 7 o’clock inside Cassell Coliseum. Admission is free. Before the Hokies take the match, Christiansburg High and Grundy High will hold their annual grudge match beforehand, starting at 5 p.m.
#3 Virginia Tech 18, Maryland 17
125: #13 Jarrod Garnett (VT) dec. Shane Gentry, 9-6
133: #8 Devin Carter (VT) fall Lou Ruland, 6:26
141: Jon Kohler (M) maj. dec. #13 Chris Diaz, 12-0
149: #8 Brian Stephens (VT) dec. Ben Dorsay, 13-11
157: #8 Jesse Dong (VT) dec. #13 Kyle John, 7-1
165: #5 Josh Asper (M) maj. dec. #15 Pete Yates, 9-1
174: #17 Mike Letts (M) dec. Matt Epperly, 6-3
184: Corey Peltier (M) dec. John Dickson, 7-1
197: Christian Boley (M) dec. Chris Penny, 10-9
285: David Marone (VT) dec. Spencer Myers, 5-3
For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Wrestling).