Virginia Tech wrestler Zach Epperly won his match at 174 pounds to lift the Hokies to a 20-14 victory over NC State on Saturday night in front of nearly 3,000 fans at Virginia Tech Carilion Court.
The win sealed the Atlantic Coast Conference’s dual match championship for Tech for the third consecutive year. The No. 5 Hokies moved to 16-1 overall, 5-0 in the ACC, while the No. 8 Wolfpack fell to 12-2, 4-1.
“We’ve dominated the dual meet side of the ACC, and that’s a tribute to everyone involved – coaches and athletes performing – and this was a big night,” Tech coach Kevin Dresser said. “This is two years in a row that we’ve finished the dual meet season with a championship on the line. Obviously, the crowd came out, and it was a great night for us.”
The championship also marked the 23rd ACC team title won by Virginia Tech since the Hokies joined the league for the 2004-05 academic year.
The Hokies survived an early upset when NC State’s Michael Macchiavello beat Zack Zavatsky 9-3 in the very first match of the evening. Zavatsky went in as the No. 4 wrestler nationally at 184 pounds.
However, Tech won five of the next nine matches, starting when Jared Haught dominated the action at 197 pounds. Haught got a takedown and a near fall in the third period to put away Malik McDonald by a score of 8-2. The win marked the 20th of the season for Haught, who is ranked No. 3 nationally at 197.
At heavyweight, the Hokies’ Ty Walz turned it on in the third period to record a 13-4 major decision victory over the Wolfpack’s Michael Boykin. Walz, ranked fifth nationally at heavyweight, recorded an escape and three takedowns in the final period to pull away and move to 18-2 on the season.
The Hokies’ Joey Dance took care of things at 125 pounds, registering a 12-3 major decision over NC State’s Sean Fausz to give the Hokies an 11-3 lead. Dance, ranked third at 125, trailed early, but picked up two near falls toward the end of the second period and two more in the third to cruise to the win. He is now 21-1 on the season.
NC State’s Jamal Morris and Kevin Jack won the next two matches at 133 and 141 pounds, respectively. Jack’s technical fall tied things at 11.
But the Hokies regained the lead when Solomon Chishko won 8-3 over Sam Speno at 149 pounds. Chishko, ranked No. 6 at 149, led 4-3 going into the final period, but an escape and takedown gave him some breathing room. With a riding time point, he notched the 8-3 win to give the Hokies a 14-11 edge.
Sal Mastriani then won an important match at 157 pounds for Tech. He registered two third-period takedowns and received a point for riding time to knock off Thomas Bullard 12-6 and push the Hokies’ lead to 17-11.
NC State’s Chad Pyke won at 165 pounds to cut the Tech lead to 17-14, but the Hokies’ Epperly won a businesslike match over Nick Reenan in the final match of the evening. Epperly, ranked fifth nationally at 174, got an early takedown and a couple of escape points to hold on in the end. His riding time point gave him a 5-3 victory.
“It’s sure nice to have a guy like Zach Epperly at the end,” Dresser said. “It sure is.”
The Hokies have little time to celebrate, as they hit the mat Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in a match against No. 16 South Dakota State. The day marks Senior Day for the Hokies, and Dance, Walz, Mastriani, David Bergida and Mattheos Lozier will be honored.
No. 5 Hokies 20, No. 8 NC State 14
184: No. 11 Michael Macchiavello (NC State) dec. No. 4 Zack Zavatsky (VT), 9-3
197: No. 3 Jared Haught (VT) dec. Malik McDonald (NC State), 8-2
285: No. 5 Ty Walz (VT) MD Michael Boykin (NC State), 13-4
125: No. 3 Joey Dance (VT) MD No. 12 Sean Fausz (NC State), 11-3
133: No. 18 Jamal Morris (NC State) dec. Dennis Gustafson (VT), 5-4
141: No. 2 Kevin Jack (NC State) tech. fall Brendan Ryan (VT), 21-6 (5:57)
149: No. 6 Solomon Chishko (VT) dec. No. 8 Sam Speno (NC State), 8-3
157: No. 15 Sal Mastriani (VT) dec. Thomas Bullard (NC State), 12-6
165: Chad Pyke (NC State) dec. David Bergida (VT), 13-7
174: No. 5 Zach Epperly (VT) dec. Nick Reenan, 5-3
— Courtesy of VT Athletics