BLACKSBURG - The seventh-ranked Virginia Tech wrestling squad used an electric atmosphere to propel it to a 20-12 win over the University of Virginia Saturday night in front of a Cassell Coliseum record 3,378 fans for a wrestling match.
The first three bouts were wild ones as the Hokies won each in dramatic fashion. The match got started at the heavyweight weight class with Tech’s David Marone scoring late to down Jack Danilkowicz, 4-3 and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Danilkowicz picked up a first-period takedown and took a 3-2 lead early in the third period with an escape, but Marone pulled in a takedown attempt with 20 seconds left and held Danilkowicz until the end for the exciting 4-3 win.
At 125 pounds, unranked Matt Snyder of Virginia got a takedown and two separate three-point nearfall combinations in the first period to take a surprising 8-0 lead on 16th-ranked Jarrod Garnett. But Garnett made a huge comeback with two reversals and a takedown to cut the deficit to three at 9-6 heading to the third period. Garnett got three takedowns in the third period on an exhausted Snyder to take the lead, forcing Snyder to take injury time with 44 seconds left and trailing by one. Snyder escaped to force sudden victory, but Garnett easily took him down to secure the crazy14-12 comeback win.
Unranked Joe Spisak of Virginia grabbed an early 5-2 lead on No. 10 Devin Carter early on, using a takedown and craqdle for back points. But Carter rallied to tie it up at 7-7 in the second period and picked up four more takedowns en route to a 19-11 major decision at 133 pounds to make it 10-0 after three matches. At 141 pounds Zach Neibert of Tech was again impressive, beating Gus Sako, 8-2. He got two takedowns in the first period and led 4-2 heading to the final period. There, he got a late takedown to ice the 8-2 win.
At 149 pounds, ninth-ranked Brian Stephens used a takedown in the second period to take a lead on Derek Valenti, but Valenti tied it up in the third on an escape. After being dinged for a stall warning, Valenti snuck in on a takedown and put Stephens right to his back for three huge points to pull out the unlikely 7-2 win after Stephens controlled most of the match. Valenti’s big win made it 13-3 in favor of the Hokies as the teams headed to the halftime break.
Sixth-ranked Jesse Dong then took to the mat for the Hokies at 157 pounds. He got a takedown in the first period and rode Shawn Harris for the last minute. Dong rode him the whole second period and in the third, Dong escaped for a 3-0 lead. He took Harris back down and let him go before taking him back down and with over 3:20 of riding time, he picked up an extra point for the 8-1 win.
Pete Yates got his 165-pound match started right with a takedown of Jedd Moore in the first minute. Yates, ranked 15th, then turned him late in the period for three back points and a 5-0 lead. In the second stanza, Yates took Moore down again and increased his riding time by holding him down the rest of the period. Yates escaped quickly in the third and with a point for riding time, Yates picked up a dominating 9-0 major decision.
The Cavaliers then sent out three ranked wrestlers to try and make a major comeback in the last three matches. Fourth-ranked Chris Henrich got two takedowns on Tech’s Matt Epperly at 174 pounds in the first period. Henrich rode Epperly for most of the second period before Epperly escaped late. Henrich escaped in the third period and fought off Epperly’s late charge to pick up the 6-2 win. Jon Fausey, ranked 18th, controlled the action with a pair of takedowns on Tech’s John Dickson to pick up a 5-3 win. The night concluded with 18th-ranked Mike Salopek downing Tech’s Chris Penny. Salopek battled for a takedown late in the first period and escaped in the third stanza to stretch his lead to 4-1. Penny got in on several shots, but couldn't finish on Salaopek as neither wrestler scored from there on out and Salopek got a point for riding time to pick up the 5-1 win.
With the win, Tech has now won 13 consecutive ACC dual matches dating back to 2008. The Hokies improve to 16-4 overall, 3-0 in the league while Virginia falls to 15-6, 2-1 in the conference.
Tech will be back in action Thursday, taking on Old Dominion in Norfolk at the Constant Center at 8:30 p.m. And then on Saturday, the Hokies will wrap up ACC competition with a pair of matches at home, taking on NC State at 5 o’clock and then Duke right after.
#7 Virginia Tech 20, Virginia 12
285: David Marone (VT) dec. Jack Danilkowicz, 4-3
125: #16 Jarrod Garnett (VT) dec. Matt Snyder, 14-12 (SV)
133: #10 Devin Carter (VT) maj. dec. Joe Spisak, 19-11
141: Zach Neibert (VT) dec. Gus Sako, 8-2
149: Derek Valenti (VA) dec. #9 Brian Stephens, 7-2
157: #6 Jesse Dong (VT) dec. Shawn Harris, 8-1
165: #15 Pete Yates (VT) maj. dec. Jedd Moore, 9-0
174: #4 Chris Henrich (VA) dec. Matt Epperly, 6-2
184: #18 Jon Fausey (VA) dec. John Dickson, 5-3
197: #18 Mike Salopek (VA) dec. Chris Penny, 5-1
VT: 16-4, 3-0 ACC
VA: 15-6, 2-1 ACC
Up next for VT: at Old Dominion Thursday night, 2/10 at 8:30 pm
For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Wrestling).