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Hokies Finish Fourth at the NCAA Championships

Virginia Tech finished a program best fourth at the NCAA Wrestling Championship.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies finished a program best fourth at the NCAA Wrestling Championships this weekend at Madison Square Garden.  In addition to the impressive team achievement the Hokies also had a program best six athletes earn All-American honors.  To wrap up a fantastic weekend the Virginia Tech head coach, Kevin Dresser, was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) head coach of the year.

The championships started on Thursday and lasted through Saturday night.  Virginia Tech sent eight of their wrestlers to the Big Apple.  No. 2 seed Joey Dance (125), No. 7 Solomon Chisko (147), No. 8 Nick Brascetta (157), No. 14 David McFadden (165), No. 5 Zack Zavatsky (184), No. 6 Jared Haught (197), and No. 3 Ty Walz (285) all won their respective first round matches.  No. 8 seed Zach Epperly (174) lost his opening match to Penn’s Casey Kent.

As the competition continued the Hokies sent four to the quarterfinals.  During the quarterfinals Chishko lost to Stanford’s Joey McKenna, 6-1.  Nick Brascetta was defeated by No. 1 seed, Isaiah Martinez, from Illinois, 6-3.  In a disappointing surprise Zavatsky lost to his N.C. State rival, Pete Renda, during a close match, 4-3.  During the regular season meeting between VT and NCSU Zavatsky defeated Renda, and again at the ACC Championships.  At the NCAA Championships it seems Renda was able to finally overcome the Hokie grappler.  Virginia Tech’s single quarterfinal victory came when Ty Walz defeated Brooks Black of Illinois, 4-1, and moved on to the Semifinals.

In the heavyweight semifinal Walz faced No. 2 seed, Kyle Snyder, from Ohio State.  Snyder beat Walz, 10-6, before going on to win the heavyweight championship.  In the consolation rounds the Hokies had a solid showing, and several wrestlers placed.  Solomon Chishko, David McFadden, and Jared Haught all took sixth place.  Epperly and Brascetta went on a tear during their consolation matches.  Zach Epperly was able to avenge his first round loss to Casey Kent, in the Third Place Match, with an 8-4 victory. Nick Brascetta also took third place, in his weight class, when he defeated Cornell’s Dylan Palacio.

In the end the Penn State Nittany Lions won their fifth team title in six years with several dominating performances.  Oklahoma State finished second and Ohio State took third.  The Hokies, with just one point over fifth place Iowa, took the fourth spot.

The fourth place finish is not only the highest ever for the Hokies, but the best team finish in the history of the ACC.  Virginia Tech, Penn State, Iowa, and Oklahoma State tied for the most All-Americans, by team, with six apiece.  Virginia Tech also represented the majority of ACC All-Americans.  The ACC put up 11 total athletes with AA honors.  NCSU contributed three.  UNC and Duke provided one apiece.

Virginia Tech All-Americans

Solomon Chishko (141)

Nick Brascetta (157)

David McFadden (165)

Zach Epperly (174)

Jared Haught (197)

Ty Walz (285)

Next season the Hokies will be returning seven of the eight that participated in the championship.  Congratulations to the entire team for the best performance in Virginia Tech’s and the ACC’s history!  Go Hokies!