Original Photo Courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
This week’s college wrestler of the week is Virginia Tech’s 165 lber Mekhi Lewis. It takes a lot to stand out from a group of NCAA champions that include three-time title winners like Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal (Penn State), but Mekhi was able to not only come away with a national title from Pittsburgh but also the Most Outstanding Wrestler award. Lewis entered the tournament as the eighth-seed with only two losses on the year, the most recent coming way back on December 1st in the finals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. The Hokie almost blew the roof off of PPG Paints Arena when he knocked off the top seed, Alex Marinelli (Iowa) 3-1. Lewis showed incredible balance and hips when avoiding a pair of Marinelli takedown attempts during the match. After the second, he was able to convert on a counter of his own to gain the winning points as time expired on the clock. After downing the fourth-seed Evan Wick (Wisconsin), Lewis was faced with the monumental task of unseating two-time defending NCAA Champion Vincenzo Joseph. The two battled through a scoreless first period, which led to Joseph starting the second down. Lewis was able to lock up a cradle for four points which blew the match wide open. He would clinch the win late in the third period after defending a single leg and earning a takedown of his own, which brought the final score to 7-1.
The win made Mekhi the first NCAA champion in school history. Only a freshman, Lewis earned the eighth-seed after capturing an ACC crown two weeks prior. Over the summer, the Hokie was able to win a Junior World Championship, despite having a very limited background in freestyle at the time.