BLACKSBURG - The 16th-ranked Virginia Tech wrestling team will head to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to participate in the EAS Sports Nutrition/NWCA Division I National Duals presented by Hibiclens and the United States Marine Corps in honor of Cliff Keen. Set to take place at St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State University on Feb. 16-17, the event brings 14 programs together to crown a Division I dual meet champion.
Wrestling begins at 1 p.m. Sunday with four first-round matchups, followed by the remaining first round matches at 3 p.m.
Quarterfinal winners will face off Sunday evening at 7 p.m. Action continues on Monday with the semifinals at 1 p.m. and the finals set for 4 p.m.
NATIONAL DUALS HISTORY
Virginia Tech is competing in the National Duals for the fourth-straight season. Last year, the Hokies beating No. 25 Oklahoma and No. 9 Oregon State in Corvallis before falling to No. 4 Minnesota at home a week later.
Tech competed in the 2012 NWCA National Duals in Ames, Iowa, beating Northern Iowa 20-17 before falling to No. 5 Iowa 31-3.
In 2011, The Hokies went on quite a roll at the National Duals, beating No. 17 Central Michigan (30-10), No. 2 Oklahoma State (18-16) and No. 4 Wisconsin (20-19) before falling to No. 1 Cornell (25-10) in the finals, held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Tech also competed in the 2001 National Duals at Penn State, going 0-2.
HOKIES AND BEAVERS
Sixteenth-ranked Virginia Tech will open up on Sunday at 3 p.m. against No. 25 Oregon State in the first round. The winner of the bout will get second-seeded and fourth-ranked Cornell (10-0) in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Sunday night. The loser will drop into the consolations and will wrestle on Monday at 11 a.m. against the loser of the Minnesota/North Dakota State-Chattanooga winner. The full bracket can be found here.
Virginia Tech is 2-0 all-time against OSU, beating the Beavers 17-16 at the 2008 Virginia Duals in Hampton, Va., and 20-15 last year in Oregon.
Here’s the agate from last year’s match in Corvallis. Tech’s lineup will feature just four wrestlers competing who wrestled last year, two of whom are at the same weight class.
#7 Virginia Tech (16-2) 20, #9 Oregon State (10-4) 15
125: #5 Jarrod Garnett (VT) dec. Joey Palmer, 8-3
133: #18 Erik Spjut (VT) dec. Drew Van Anrooy, 3-2
141: #4 Mike Mangrum (OS) dec. #12 Zach Neibert, 7-3
149: #7 Scott Sakaguchi (OS) dec. #5 Nick Brascetta, 3-1
157: #7 Jesse Dong (VT) dec. #10 R.J. Pena, 5-4
165: #5 Pete Yates (VT) tech fall Seth Thomas, 15-0 (4:33)
174: Austin Gabel (VT) dec. Cody Weishoff, 6-2
184: Nick Vetterlein (VT) dec. Austin Moorehead, 15-8
197: #6 Taylor Meeks (OS) inj. def. Derrick Borlie (4:38)
285: #4 Chad Hanke (OS) dec. David Marone, 7-6
Ten of the 14 teams are ranked in the Top 25 by the USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll, with newly anointed No. 1 Minnesota and fourth-ranked Cornell leading the pack. In addition to the No. 16 Hokies, also participating in the event are No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 17 Iowa State, No. 18 Illinois, No. 19 Chattanooga, No. 20 North Dakota State, No. 25 Oregon State, Kent State, Hofstra, Bloomsburg and Central Michigan.
Teams were seeded and matched up according to several factors including team ranking and conference affiliation as well as taking into account past and future matches scheduled for this season.
TOURNAMENT INFORMATION AND TICKETS
Fans can find all sorts of information on the event, including tickets and directions here.
SCOUTING OREGON STATE
The Beavers (9-6) could send out four ranked wrestlers Sunday afternoon, all of whom are in the top 15 in the latest AWN poll. Scott Sakagucki is ranked 11th at 149 pounds, RJ Peña is ranked eighth at 157 pounds, Taylor Meeks is ranked 11th at 197 pounds and Amarveer Dhesi is ranked 14th at heavyweight. The two teams do not have a common opponent in dual matches this season.
SCOUTING THE HOKIES
The Hokies will trot out five ranked wrestlers who appear in the latest Amateur Wrestling News Poll. True freshman Joey Dance sits at 20th while Zach Neibert is ranked 17th at 149 pounds. Chris Moon checks in this week at 16th at 165 pounds while Nick Vetterlein is ranked 18th at 184 pounds and redshirt freshman Ty Walz is ranked 16th at heavyweight.
When Devin Carter tore his hamstring on Dec. 6 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, it meant the Hokies lost their top point scorer and potential national champion at 141 pounds. The redshirt junior was off to a 12-0 start and was ranked third in all the major polls. Carter was a 2012 NCAA All-American and is a two-time ACC Champion who has garnered bonus points in 64 of his 83 career wins (74.7 percent). He’ll be back next season as a redshirt senior looking to bounce back in a big way for the Hokies.
DON’T DOUBT DRESSER
When Tom Brands scurried off to Iowa in the middle of the night back in 2006, he took several top wrestlers with him, leaving the Virginia Tech program in shambles. After flirting with the notion of dropping the sport, the Tech administration took a chance on local high school coach Kevin Dresser. He was 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.
Many said he couldn’t get it done at the college level, or at Virginia Tech, but he’s proved them wrong. He’s turned the Hokies into a perennial top-15 program and has continuously brought in top recruiting classes. Now in his eighth season, he is 109-44 in dual matches, 30-10 in ACC duals. Last season, he led Tech to a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Championship with four All-Americans, both records for the program.
HALL OF FAMER
Virginia Tech head coach Kevin Dresser is one of three 2014 inductees into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, joining Tom Kettman and Doug Schwab as part of this year’s class. The three inductees become the 109th, 110th and 111th members inducted into the Hall since the first class was inducted in 1970.
The 45th annual Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Awards Banquet will be held on Monday, April 14th, 2014 at the Cresco Country Club.
The Hokies will return to Columbus for a dual match against Ohio State on Feb. 23 and then will begin preparations for the 2014 ACC Wrestling Championship on Saturday, March 8 inside Cassell Coliseum.
Below are the probables for both teams, as submitted by the respective coaching staffs.
#16 Virginia Tech (15-3)
125: #20 Joey Dance (17-6)
133: Dennis Gustafson (12-8)
141: Erik Spjut (11-14) or Nick Anderson (13-6)
149: #17 Zach Neibert (15-6)
157: Sal Mastriani (9-10) or Chad Strube (13-8)
165: #18 Chris Moon (16-3)
174: Austin Gabel (11-4) or John Dickson (8-11)
184: #18 Nick Vetterlein (18-6) or Brooks Morrison (4-14)
197: Chris Penny (19-9)
285: #16 Ty Walz (21-7) or Brandon Taylor (9-12)
#25 Oregon State (9-6)
125: Pat Rollins (12-16) or Joey Palmer (13-9)
133: Drew Van Anrooy (16-17)
141: Joey Delgado (19-13)
149: #11 Scott Sakaguchi (24-8) or Jared Reis (28-11)
157: #8 RJ Peña (28-4)
165: Toney Chay (26-14) or Alex Elder (23-9)
174: Joe Latham (23-12)
184: Austin Morehead (18-6) or Brian Engdahl (5-8)
197: #11 Taylor Meeks (23-6) or Zach Cardwell (15-9)
285: #14 Amarveer Dhesi (17-5)
For updates on Virginia Tech wrestling, follow the Hokies on Twitter Follow @VT_Wrestling