It’s not often that we get to see killer non-conference duals this late in the season. Such will be the case Friday as fifth-ranked Virginia Tech heads into the “Snake Pit” and puts its ranking on the line against EIWA powerhouse and seventh-ranked Lehigh at 7 pm eastern in famed Grace Hall.
Both squads are coming off of duals against heated rivals, though with very different results. Tech was able to top in-state rival Virginia, who was ranked 19th at the time, 29-14. Lehigh, meanwhile, fell to #11 Cornell, 21-20, in the 95th meeting all-time between the two EIWA rivals.
Friday’s dual should be an absolute barnburner, as we should see five matchups between ranked wrestlers. That includes a showdown of two top-five studs at 174 pounds as the Mountain Hawks’ Ryan Preisch takes on undefeated Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech.
Lehigh sits at 8-2 overall heading into the dual with its only losses coming at the hands of second-ranked Penn State and Cornell just this past week. The Hokies are an impressive 13-1 on the year, with their lone loss coming to sixth-ranked Missouri, 23-19, in Columbia back on Nov. 20th.
This match can be viewed live for free at CampusInsiders.com.
No. 7 Lehigh vs. No. 5 Virginia Tech
125: #7 Darian Cruz (Lehigh) vs. #2 Joey Dance (Virginia Tech)
133: Joe Lobeck (Lehigh) vs. Dennis Gustafson (Virginia Tech)
141: #12 Randy Cruz (Lehigh) vs. Kevin Norstrem OR Brenden Ryan (Virginia Tech)
149: #11 Laike Gardner (Lehigh) vs. #7 Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech)
157: #4 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh) vs. #16 Sal Mastriani (Virginia Tech)
165: Mitch Minotti OR Cole Walter (Lehigh) vs. David Bergida (Virginia Tech)
174: #5 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh) vs. #2 Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech)
184: Kyle Gentile (Lehigh) vs. #6 Zack Zavatsky (Virginia Tech)
197: Ben Haas (Lehigh) vs. #3 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech)
285: #16 Doug Vollaro (Lehigh) vs. #3 Ty Walz (Virginia Tech)
What a way to start a dual. Two former All-Americans looking to return to that level in 2017. Two top-10 ranked wrestlers, and an interesting clash of styles. Dance is a perfect 19-0 on the year and coming off an impressive 11-3 major decision win over eighth-ranked Jack Mueller (Virginia) last weekend. Cruz has been similarly impressive at 19-2 with his only losses coming to number six Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) and number three Nick Suriano (Penn State). Look for the Hokie 125-pounder to push the pace throughout while Cruz will hope to get into scramble scenarios where he’s one of the best in the country at coming out on top. Dance won the only prior meeting between the two wrestlers, 4-1, in the 2014 NCAA tournament. In the end, I expect Dance’s forward pressure will be enough to earn him a tight victory.
Dance by Decision, 3-0 Virginia Tech.
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