Five Hokies headed to quarterfinals at NCAA Wrestling Championships

Second Round
Virginia Tech

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Five of seven Virginia Tech wrestlers won both the first- and second-round matches of their respective weight classes to highlight Thursday’s action at the NCAA Wrestling Championships being held at the Scottrade Center.

Joey Dance, Solomon Chishko, Zach Epperly, Jared Haught and Ty Walz all won twice to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round. Mostly behind those performances, the Hokies sat in eighth place in the team competition with 18 points.

“In an event like this, there is some good and some bad, but I thought we had a lot more good than bad,” Virginia Tech interim coach Tony Robie said. “Obviously, we took hits in a couple of places, and we thought we could win those matches. As disappointing as it is for those guys, we talk about this being a round-by-round event.

“We’ve got to wipe the slate clean, move on and focus on tomorrow. We’ve got five guys moving forward, two guys on the backside, and all seven of these guys are capable of going deep into the tournament and wrestling on Saturday. We’re going to keep focusing on the matches in front of us and keep working.”

Dance, the Hokies’ 125-pounder dominated in both of his matches, winning both in bonus style. The senior from Christiansburg, Virginia and the No. 2 seed had three takedowns and two near falls in the first period alone and went on to record the easy 17-2 technical fall victory (4:20) in his first-round match against Stanford’s Gabe Townsell. In his second-round match, Dance started the third period by registering four near fall points and later added a takedown to notch a 12-2 major decision win over Wyoming’s Drew Templeman.

“I just like his focus,” Robie said of Dance. “I think mentally he’s in a good place in terms of not looking forward too much and not looking ahead to other guys. He’s got to wrestle the guy in front of him, and each round gets a little more difficult. Our message to him is to take it one at a time. He’s going to focus on the quarterfinals tomorrow morning. That’s all you can do in this event.”

Chishko, seeded sixth, won his first-round match 9-3 over Cal State Bakersfield’s Coleman Hammond at 149 pounds and then made short work of Oregon State’s Joey Delgado in the second round. Chishko got two first-period takedowns to grab the lead, but in the second period, he ended things, pinning Delgado at 2:52. The fall marked Chishko’s first of the season.

Epperly methodically won both of his matches at 174 pounds. In the first round, Epperly, the No. 4 seed, beat NC State’s Nick Reenan for the third time this season. He recorded a takedown in each of the three periods, but for the most part, he just rode Reenan, racking up 3:16 in riding time. He allowed only a lone escape to Reenan in winning 8-1. In the second round against Northern Iowa’s Taylor Lujan, he trailed 2-1 in the second period, but used an escape and a takedown to take the lead. He rode Lujan for the entire third period en route to a 5-2 win.

Haught ground out two wins at 197 pounds. The No. 4 seed and Cal State Bakersfield’s Matt Williams engaged in a tough match in the first round, with neither scoring in the first period. But Haught used a takedown and two escapes to grab a 4-0 lead and went on to the 4-1 win. In his second-round match, he got an early takedown of Iowa’s Cash Wilke and used a second-period escape and riding time advantage to win 4-1.

Walz, the No. 3 seed at heavyweight, had four takedowns and amassed 1:54 in riding time to win 11-4 over North Dakota State’s Benjamin Tynan in his first-round match. In the second round, he took down Lock Haven’s Thomas Haines twice in the first period and once each in the final two periods. The riding time point gave him a 9-5 victory over the No. 14 seed.

Sal Mastriani and Zack Zavatsky suffered the only losses for the Hokies on the day. Both won their first-round matches at 157 and 184 pounds, respectively, and both lost in the second round.

“You have to forget about it,” Robie said of his message to Mastriani and Zavatsky. “You can’t go back and change things. Zack needs to create more and be more aggressive. He needs to let his athleticism come into play. He didn’t do a good job of that. Sal lost a heartbreaking match, but like I said, you’ve just got to move on to the next match. We can’t change it now. We can’t let it affect our next match, and that’s where our focus is.”

After winning by technical fall in the first round against Kent’s Casey Sparkman, Mastriani took the No. 3 seed, Missouri’s Joey Lavallee, to sudden victory. Mastriani grabbed Lavallee’s leg and nearly took him down, but Lavallee turned Mastriani and pinned him to win 3-1. Zavatsky, the No. 5 seed, won 10-5 in the first round against Pennsylvania’s Joe Heyob and had a 2-0 lead on Northern Iowa’s Drew Foster in the second round. But Foster got a third-period takedown and held on for a 4-3 win.

Friday’s action starts at 10 a.m., with all the quarterfinals being held first and then the consolation rounds. Fans can watch on ESPNU, while the evening session will be shown on ESPN.


125: No. 2 seed Joey Dance

First round: def. Gabe Townsell (Stanford), 17-2 TF (4:20)

Second round: def. Drew Templeman (Wyoming) 12-2 MD

Quarterfinals: vs. No. 10 seed Jack Mueller (Virginia)

149: No. 6 seed Solomon Chishko

First round: def. Coleman Hammond (CSBU), 9-3

Second round: def. Joey Delgado (Oregon State), Fall (2:52)

Quarterfinals: vs. No. 3 seed Lavion Mayes (Missouri)

157: No. 14 seed Sal Mastriani

First round: def. Casey Sparkman (Kent), 20-5 TF (7:00)

Second round: lost to No. 3 seed Joey Lavallee (Missouri), Fall (SV)

Consolation round: vs. John Van Brill (Rutgers)

174: No. 4 seed Zach Epperly

First round: def. Nick Reenan (NC State), 8-1

Second round: def. No. 13 seed Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa), 5-2

Quarterfinals: vs. No. 5 seed Mark Hall (Penn State)

184: No 5 seed Zack Zavatsky

First round: def. Joe Heyob (Penn), 10-5

Second round: lost to No. 12 seed Drew Foster (Northern Iowa), 4-3

Consolation round: vs. Hunter Gamble (Gardner-Webb)

197: No. 4 seed Jared Haught

First round: def. Matt Williams (CSBU), 4-1

Second round: def. Cash Wilke (Iowa), 4-1

Quarterfinals: vs. No. 5 seed Matt McCutcheon (Penn State)

Heavyweight: No. 3 seed Ty Walz

First round: def. Benjamin Tynan (NDSU), 11-4

Second round: def. No. 14 Thomas Haines (Lock Haven), 9-5

Quarterfinals: vs. unseeded Conan Jennings (Northwestern)

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