BLACKSBURG - The 14th-ranked Virginia Tech wrestling squad defeated Appalachian State, 24-16 in its home opener Thursday at the Cassell Coliseum in front of 964 fans.
Seventh-ranked Devin Carter opened the match by notching 11 takedowns en route to a 24-9 technical fall over Chris Johnson at 133 pounds. Zach Neibert followed 7-1 decision over Mike Kessler at 141 pounds to put Tech up 8-0.
At 149 pounds, Appalachian State got on the board and cut Tech’s lead in half as Savva Kostis defeated Tech’s Nick Murray by a 15-5 major decision. The Mountaineers’ Chip Powell then gave Appalachian State the lead at 10-8 with pin over Cameron Hurd at 2:40 in the 157 pound weight class.
Two ranked wrestlers took to the mat at 165 pounds as Tech’s 16th-ranked Pete Yates squared off against No. 20 Kyle Blevins for Appalachian State. The match was tied at 5-5 in the third period when Yates was called for an illegal hold with less than a minute left and Blevins was awarded the penalty point. Blevins held on for the 6-5 decision as Yates was unable to get the takedown.
Following the intermission, the Hokies’ Chris Moon scored a 9-5 decision over Carter Downs at 174 pounds, making the score 13-11 in favor of ASU. However, eleventh-ranked Austin Trotman answered with a 9-4 win over John Dickson at 184 pounds, putting the Mountaineers back up by five.
The turning point in the match was at 197 pounds as No. 16 Nick Vetterlein opened up a 4-1 lead in the first period over ASU’s Jon Hartley before Hartley took injury time after falling on his shoulder on a takedown. After an escape following the injury time, Vetterlein capitalized, scoring a quick takedown straight to Hartley’s back for the pin at 1:21. With the fall, Tech regained the lead for good at 17-16.
Tech’s Chris Penny led throughout at heavyweight and scored a 10-2 major decision over Joe Cummings, putting the Hokies up 21-16. In the final bout, Erik Spjut shut out ASU’s Tony Gravely 4-0 at 125 pounds, making the final score 24-16.
“With the exception of 165 pounds, I think it’s pretty evident which guys are used to being in the lineup and which guys aren’t,” said head coach Kevin Dresser. “Guys who aren’t used to being in the lineup didn’t get it done for us tonight. We’re disappointed at 165 pounds. Until we learn to open up and go after people, we’re not going to get it down with this style. We have a short turnaround to the Penn State tournament this weekend and then we get a break. Hopefully by the time we get to January, we’ll determine some starters. We still have a lot of weight classes up for grabs. Obviously our injury situation in the month of November has changed things.”
Tech, ranked 14th in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches’ Poll is now 3-1 while Appalachian State drops to 2-1. The Hokies will be back in action on this weekend at the Nittany Lion open on Sunday with some non-starters also participating in the Davidson Open on Saturday.
#14 Virginia Tech (3-1) 24, Appalachian State (2-1) 16
133: #7 Devin Carter (VT) tech fall Chris Johnson, 24-9 (6:07)
141: Zach Neibert (VT) dec. Mike Kessler, 7-1
149: Savva Kostis (ASU) maj. dec. Nick Murray, 15-5
157: Chip Powell (ASU) fall Cameron Hurd, 2:40
165: #20 Kyle Blevins (ASU) dec. #14 Pete Yates, 6-5
174: Chris Moon (VT) dec. Carter Downs, 9-5
184: #11 Austin Trotman (ASU) dec. John Dickson, 9-4
197: #16 Nick Vetterlein (VT) fall Jon Hartley, 1:21
285: Chris Penny (VT) maj. dec. Joe Cummings, 10-2
125: Erik Spjut (VT) dec. Tony Gravely, 4-0
For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Wrestling).