Seven members of the Virginia Tech wrestling squad will head to Philadelphia for the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships, to be held Thursday through Saturday at the Wells Fargo Arena.
Each of the seven will be trying to become the first national champion in program history as they embark on their journey Thursday morning at 11 a.m.
Some of the sessions will be carried live on the ESPN family of networks while some will be shown on ESPN3, an online site. Check the PDF to the right for the brackets, event schedule, tournament notes and broadcast schedule.
THE BIG DANCE
• The Virginia Tech wrestling squad rolled to a 20-4 dual meet mark, 5-0 in the ACC to finish the season ranked sixth in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches’ Poll - a new program high. At the ACC Championships, the Hokies had three individual champions en route to a second-place finish.
• None of that matters from this point out as it’s now tournament time and the scoring format is different. While the Hokies have won 15 straight ACC dual matches dating back to 2008, they have yet to finish in the top 20 at the NCAA Championships under head coach Kevin Dresser.
• Tech’s highest finish at the NCAAs came in 1956 and 1959 when it finished 19th both times. The Hokies finished 24th last season in Omaha, the highest for the team under Dresser.
• Six of the seven Hokies who qualified for the NCAA Championships will be making at least their second appearance in the event. Only freshman Devin Carter will be making his debut. Chris Diaz is 7-5 in two previous appearances (A-A last year); Jesse Dong is 2-4 in two previous appearances; Jarrod Garnett is 4-4 in two previous appearances; David Marone went 3-2 in his lone appearance; Brian Stephens went 0-2 in his lone appearance; Pete Yates is 0-0 after qualifying for the 2009 Championships, but had to withdraw before it started due to a knee injury.
• True freshman Devin Carter has made quite a splash in his short time on campus. The Christiansburg product is 32-5 and ranked ninth in the country at 133 pounds by InterMat. He won an ACC title and took fifth at the prestigious Las Vegas Invitational.
• In 24 of his 37 matches (64.9 percent), he has scored bonus points for the Hokies. He is the No. 9 seed in a tough 133-pound class at this year’s NCAA Championships.
THE DONGER IS BACK
• Junior Jesse Dong, a top-12 finisher at the 2010 NCAA Championships, was scheduled to redshirt this season, but is back in the lineup at 157 pounds after the coaches decided to pull the redshirt. Pete Yates, who was 16-0 at 157 pounds, was having trouble making weight and now bumps up to 165 pounds.
• Dong was 14-1 in unattached competition this season, winning the Michigan State Open and placing second at the Penn State Open. He is 18-1 as an attached wrestler for a 32-2 overall mark and ranked in the top 10 of all four major polls.
• He has earned the ACC’s Wrestler of the Week award twice this year and is a two-time ACC champion at 157 pounds. Dong is the No. 5 seed at 157 pounds at this year’s NCAA Championships.
ONE HUNDRED AND COUNTING
• Senior Chris Diaz, from nearby Camden, Del., joined an exclusive club win he picked up a win against Wisconsin at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals as it was victory No. 100 for the Delaware product and 2010 NCAA All-American.
• In the school’s 88 years of wrestling, only five grapplers have reached 100 career wins: Sean Gray (133), Chris Martin (126), David Hoffman (116), Eric Hall (113) and Chris Diaz (105).
STEADY AT 125 POUNDS
• Like Dong, junior Jarrod Garnett is a two-time ACC champion after winning the 125-pound crown two weeks ago.
• Garnett, from Newark, Del., is 28-7 on the season and has recorded 92 wins in three seasons at Tech. He is the No. 12 seed at 125 pounds at this NCAA Championships, his third appearance.
ABOUT THE HEAD MAN
• Kevin Dresser is in his fifth season at the helm of the Virginia Tech wrestling program, a program that he has headed toward the upper echelon of the college game. He has a career record of 69-32 in dual matches.
• Last year, he coached four ACC champions and helped lead Chris Diaz to All-America honors.
• This year, his team tied the school mark with 20 wins and was ranked in the top 10 nationally for much of the year, finishing second at the prestigious NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals.
• Dresser is a familiar name in the New River Valley as he was the head coach at Christiansburg High School for 10 seasons, winning the Group AA state title five times and claiming second place three times.
• Prior to his stint in Christiansburg, he led Grundy High School to eight titles in as many years.
• A native of Humboldt, Iowa, he graduated from the University of Iowa, where he won a national title in 1986 at 142 pounds. Dresser was a two-time All-American (placing fourth in 1985 at 142 pounds), as well as a two-time Big Ten champion.
For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Wrestling).