Virginia Tech takes down Rutgers on road
PISCATAWAY, NJ -- The No. 8 Virginia Tech wrestling team traveled north to take on the No. 13 Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Friday night to the tune of a raucous crowd of more than 5,500 fans in Jersey Mike's Arena. Mekhi Lewis made a triumphant return to his home state just like he left seven years ago, Sam Fisher and Rafael Hipolito, Jr. had two major upsets on the evening, and the Hokies got back on track with a 19-12 victory over the Scarlet Knights.
Tech found themselves down early after a 0-2 loss by No. 15 Eddie Ventresca to No. 6 Dean Peterson. Ventresca was in on multiple attacks but just couldn't finish as time expired on both attempts.
Getting the Hokies on the board first was two-time All-American, No. 5 Sam Latona at 133-pounds with a clutch sudden victory over No. 15 Dylan Shawver, 4-1. Latona was aggressive early taking ground and putting Shawver on his heels but was hit with a stall call after multiple shots from the Scarlet Knight. Escapes were earned by both competitors to send the match into sudden victory tied at 1. Latona put a shot-down block-reattaack sequence together to secure the winning takedown and tie the dual at 3 with his decision victory.
Making his season debut was true freshman Mac Church at 141-pounds taking on Rutgers' – and former Hokie – No. 15 Mitch Moore. It was a stalwart first period as Church defended Moore's front head attempts throughout the period to end the first scoreless. Church would surrender an escape in the second and enter the third trailing 0-1. Church managed an escape but it was too late as Moore secured riding time. The Hokie freshman dropped the tough bout, 1-2.
Next at 149-pounds was No. 4 in the country for the Hokies, sophomore sensation Caleb Henson taking a controlling 4-1 victory over No. 23 Jacob Butler. It was all Henson with a multitude of attacks but crafty defense from the lengthy Scarlet Knight proved difficult. Henson would eventually find a late attack to seal the bout and even up the team score at 3.
The most exciting wrestler in the country took the mat against Rutgers' Al DeSantis at 157-pounds. It was Tech's No. 5 Bryce Andonian getting on the board early and quick with a blast double. Andonian would then be on brand and add two more crafty takedowns with two escapes, an awarded stall point, and riding time to pick up the 13-5 major decision to give Tech a nice 10-6 cushion ahead of the intermission.
Making his dual debut was another true freshman, Rafael Hipolito, Jr. at 165-pounds against No. 23 ranked Anthony White in front of the boisterous Jersey crowd. Hipolito hit two blast doubles out the gate to lead 6-1 early. Hipolito would then give up an escape and a takedown as time expired in the first to hold a slim 6-5 lead. Hipolito would add another takedown in the second period to lead 10-7 after an escape and stall call for White. The world-class Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and judo practitioner would then add another takedown in the third to ice the bout with a 13-7 decision as time expired.
Mekhi Lewis picked up where he left off seven years ago in New Jersey with an 8-2 victory over No. 26 Jackson Turley. Lewis struck early with a takedown in the first and would hold the 3-1 lead after an escape by Turley. Turley would add another escape at the start of the second period but that was the closest he would get to the kid from Somerset. Lewis would add an escape and another takedown in the final period with riding time to secure the 8-2 decision for the Hokies and a standing ovation for No. 3 wrestler in the country and one of the best New Jersey has ever seen.
It was a slugfest at 184-pounds that saw Tech's No. 21 Sam Fisher take a wild 10-9 decision over No. 9 Brian Soldano in Jersey Mike's Arena. Fisher led early with a dominant 6-2 lead courtesy of two takedowns in the first. Soldano managed an escape and a takedown in the second to cut Fisher's lead but the Hokie hit a reversal to retake the lead. During the sequence, Fisher was hit for a locked hands that saw his lead sit at 8-7. Soldano would then add an escape as time expired in the period to even the score heading into the final period. Fisher would take bottom and earn a reversal to lead 10-9 after a Soldano escape. The Scarlet Knight would then fire off an attack inches from scoring but Fisher would defend to take the upset decision victory and seal the dual for the Hokies.
At 197-pounds and 285-pounds, No. 16 Andy Smith and No. 20 Hunter Catka would drop two close bouts to higher ranked opponents in No. 8 John Poznanski and No. 6 Yaraslau Slavikouski.
The Hokies return to action tomorrow with a contingent headed to Millersville for the Shorty Hitchcock Open and Cooper Flynn taking the mat at the Bill Farrell Invitational on Saturday, another strong group headed to the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia on Sunday, and Lewis and Latona taking the mat at the NWCA All-Star Classic in State College on Tuesday. Follow Hokies Wrestling on X, Instagram, and Facebook for all the latest news!
125: 6/8 Dean Peterson (RU) over 15/18 Eddie Ventresca (VT) by decision, 2-0; RU leads, 3-0
133: 6/5 Sam Latona (VT) over 15/18 Dylan Shawver (RU) by SV1, 4-1; RU tied, 3-3
141: 15/18 Mitch Moore (RU) over Mac Church (VT) by decision, 2-1; RU leads, 6-3
149: 4/4 Caleb Henson (VT) over 23/33 Jacob Butler (RU) by decision, 5-1; RU tied, 6-6
157: 5/5 Bryce Andonian (VT) over Al DeSantis (RU) by MD, 13-5; VT leads, 10-6
165: Rafael Hipolito Jr. (VT) over 22/27 Anthony White (RU) by decision, 13-7; VT leads, 13-6
174: 3/3 Mekhi Lewis (VT) over 26/26 Jackson Turley (RU) by decision, 8-3; VT leads, 16-6
184: 21/20 Sam Fisher (VT) over 9/7 Brian Soldano (RU) by decision, 10-9; VT leads, 19-6
197: 8/13 John Poznanski (RU) 16/18 Andy Smith (VT) by decision, 4-2; VT leads, 19-9
HWT: 6/7 Yaraslau Slavikouski (RU) over 18/19 Hunter Catka (VT) by decision, 4-1, VT wins, 19-12