photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
A new feature that we have had on TOM is the “All-2000’s Team” for a respective school. We will go weight-by-weight to feature the best lineup that a team could put together comprised of wrestlers that were in action from the year 2000 to now. Their career could have started in the 1990’s; they just need to have one year of competition in the 2000’s. Each wrestler that is mentioned must have competed for one postseason at their weight class (even if it wasn’t the weight they were most known for).
Virginia Tech is a team that has only been in the national spotlight for the past decade, and this team reflects their recent success. In fact, seven of the ten wrestlers on this ten-man group were starters on the Hokies 2016 NCAA fourth-place squad.
125 – Joey Dance (Christiansburg, VA) 2013-17
Four-time NCAA Qualifier, Two-time All-American (2017-5th; 2014-4th), 2015 NCAA Round of 12 finisher, Three-time ACC Champion
After finishing fourth in the nation as a 16th seeded true freshman, Joey Dance became a mainstay near the top of the 125 lbs rankings in his final three seasons. His fourth-place finish marked the first time in school history that a true freshman made the podium. Dance was seeded third at nationals as a sophomore, then second in his junior and season campaigns. Joey was one of the most fun 125 lbers to watch, with his arsenal of super ducks and suckbacks.
Second Team: Jarrod Garnett
133 – Devin Carter (Christiansburg, VA) 2010-15
Four-time NCAA Qualifier, Three-time All-American (2015-3rd; 2014-2nd; 2012-5th), 2011 NCAA Round of 12 finisher, Four-time ACC Champion
Devin Carter’s junior season in 2013-14 featured a remarkable comeback from what many thought would be a season-ending hamstring tear. The injury came a the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December. With little practice and conditioning under his belt, Carter came back and won the ACC’s, then defeated All-Americans Steve Dutton (Michigan), Richard Durso (F&M), and Evan Henderson (North Carolina), before falling to Logan Stieber (Ohio) in the NCAA finals.
Second Team: David Hoffman
141 – Sean Gray (Flemington, NJ) 1997-02
Four-time NCAA Qualifier, Two-time All-American (2000-7th, 2001-6th), 1998 Round of 12 finisher, Four-time Conference Champion
One of the Hokie standouts from the Pre-Kevin Dresser era, Sean Gray still has the Virginia Tech record for most career wins with 133 and is the career pin leader with 45. Gray was a match away from the podium as a true freshman and took a redshirt before placing seventh. Sean was seeded third in the nation at nationals, as a senior, though he did not place.
Second Team: Zach Neibert
149 – Peter Yates (Conyers, GA) 2008-13
Four-time NCAA Qualifier, Two-time All-American (2013-4th; 2012-5th), Two-time ACC Champion, Three-time ACC finalist
We find a way to squeeze Peter Yates onto the list since he was a 149 lber his true freshman season. He moved up two weight classes and competed for the remainder of his career at 165. In 2013 he became only the second Hokie wrestler since 1959 to make the NCAA semifinals. That same season Yates was named ACC Wrestler of the Year. Despite all of Tech’s recent success, he is the most recent VT wrestler to receive that honor.
Second Team: Solomon Chishko
157 – Nick Brascetta (St. Paris, OH) 2011-16
Four-time NCAA Qualifier, Three-time All-American (2016-3rd; 2015-4th; 2013-8th), Three-time ACC Champion, Four-time ACC finalist
Nick Brascetta’s name will not appear anywhere close to the top of the Hokie record book when it comes to wins as he only racked up 67 total. He was very limited in both his junior and senior seasons battling injuries and winning 13 matches in both seasons. Despite the abbreviated seasons, Brascetta still managed to place fourth in the country as a junior and third as a senior.
Second Team: Jesse Dong
165 – David McFadden (West Milford, NJ) 2015-Present
Two-time NCAA Qualifier, Two-time All-American (2018-5th; 2016-6th), 2018 ACC Champion
After two years of competition, David McFadden is on pace to become the program’s first four-time All-American. In his true freshman season, McFadden came from a 14th seed to take sixth place at the 2016 NCAA Championships, after getting third in the ACC. Last year McFadden entered the NCAA tournament as an undefeated, second seed.
Second Team: Chris Martin
174 – Zach Epperly (Christiansburg, VA) 2014-17
Three-time NCAA Qualifier, Two-time All-American (2016-3rd; 2015-7th), 2017 ACC Champion, Two-time ACC finalist
Zach Epperly’s run to third-place at the 2016 NCAA Championships was instrumental in the Hokies taking fourth-place as a team and the program’s first NCAA trophy. The eighth-seeded Epperly was upset in the first round, then reeled off seven straight wins to take third. He earned bonus points in six of those seven backside wins and even avenged his opening round loss in the consolation finals.
Second Team: Eric Hall
184 – Zack Zavatsky (Latrobe, PA) 2015-Present
Three-time NCAA Qualifier, 2018 NCAA sixth-place finisher, 2016 NCAA Round of 12 finisher, Two-time ACC Champion, Three-time ACC finalist
The 2018 NCAA Championships marked the massive breakthrough for Zack Zavatsky. In his first two seasons in Blacksburg, Zavatsky was an ACC Champion and earned fifth-seeds at nationals both years, yet missed out on AA’ing. Zack didn’t have to worry about fighting through the consolations or the Round of 12, as he made the NCAA semi’s and clinched a top-six finish.
Second Team: Scott Justus
197 – Jared Haught (Parkersburg, WV) 2014-18
Four-time NCAA Qualifier, Three-time All-American (2018-2nd; 2017-4th, 2016-6th), Two-time ACC Champion, Three-time ACC finalist
Jared Haught just missed out on becoming VT’s first NCAA Champion in 2018 as he was taken down in the final seconds of regulation in the NCAA Finals. That’s not to take anything away from a wrestler that came into Virginia Tech far from a sure-thing or finished product and worked his way into becoming a three-time All-American. Jared is also the first West Virginia native to wrestle in the NCAA Finals.
Second Team: Chris Penny
285 – Ty Walz (Cleveland, OH) 2013-17
Four-time NCAA Qualifier, Three-time All-American (2017-4th; 2016-4th; 2015-7th), 2017 ACC Champion, Two-time ACC finalist
Some of the best legs attacks in the 285 lb division (excluding Kyle Snyder) belonged to Ty Walz. Ty became the first Hokie to win a title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, which he did as a junior in 2015. At the Cliff Keen, as a sophomore, Walz defeated Adam Coon (Michigan) and is one of the few collegiate wrestlers with multiple wins over Coon.
Second Team: Mike Faust