Virginia Tech Wrestling.... ACC Champs! Finally! Bringing the Title back to Blacksburg!— Jarrod Garnett (@JGarnettVT) March 10, 2013
Senior Jarrod Garnett tweeted that minutes after the Hokies captured their first ACC Wrestling Championship.
Garnett pretty much summed up the feelings of the fans as well. When Kevin Dresser came to Blacksburg from neighboring Christiansburg High School, it was more a question of when Dresser would coach his first ACC Championship team, rather than if. Dresser has a tradition of winning championships wherever he coaches, and now that continues at Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech was trailing in-state rival Virginia by ten points going into the finals. In the finals of a wrestling tournament, a win is worth three points and a loss is worth zero, because the placement points are already factored in. Tech had six wrestlers in the finals, Virginia had eight, with four head-to-head matchups. While the ten point deficit certainly was not insurmountable, Tech would need to win all of those head to head matches to have a shot.
Garnett got the ball rolling for the Hokies at the 125-pound class. He and his opponent, Nathan Kraisser from the University of North Carolina, had split their matches earlier in the year. Kraisser won the first by major decision and Garnett won the second by a six point decision. Garnett got out to a quick 11-3 lead after the first period on Kraisser and road that lead into the third period. Midway through the third period, Garnett picked up a pin, worth 3 plus the 2 bonus points. Just like that, the ten point deficit was halved.
The next big match, the first head-to-head between the Hokies and Hoos, was at the 149 pound weight class. Hokies' number one seed, Nick Brascetta was set to take on UVA's second seeded Derek Valenti. The match was scoreless after the first period, and Valenti chose down. Valenti got an escape, but Brascetta grabbed a late takedown to go the third period up 2-1, with choice of position being his. Brascetta got an escape and a takedown in the third to win his second ACC title by a score of 5-1. Virginia had won at the 133 pound weight class so the deficit was back up to eight, now with Brascetta's win it was back to five.
Virginia Tech senior Jesse Dong was up next at 157. He would take on UVA's Jedd Moore. After a scoreless first period, Jesse chose down and got an escape 35 seconds into the period. The score was 1-0 going into the third, with Moore choosing bottom. Dong rode Moore for the majority of the third period picking up riding time and giving him the win 2-1. UVA's lead dropped to two.
The third head-to-head matchup was at the 165 pound weight class. The Hokies sent senior Pete Yates to battle UVA's Nick Sulzer. A matchup of top ten nationally ranked wrestlers, Yates took a 2-0 lead into the second with a good chunk of riding time in the bank. Sulzer got an escape in the second, so the score was 2-1 going into the third, but riding time was already locked up for Yates, essentially making the score 3-1. Yates chose bottom and got an escape. The final score of the match was 4-2, Tech took a one-point lead.
The last match of the night was the final head-to-head matchup and it had the most on the line. The ACC only had one automatic qualifier at heavyweight, so this match was for an ACC individual title, ACC team title, and an NCAA championship berth. Sixth-year senior David Marone took the mat for Tech and the Wahoos sent Derek Papagianopoulos.
The match began with a quick takedown by Marone, who rode Papagianopoulos the rest of the first period. Marone took a 5-0 lead into the third period where he picked up another takedown and a point for riding time to win the match 8-0. Marone's first individual title also clinched the Hokies first team title.
The Hokies placed all of their wrestlers and qualified nine for the NCAA Championships. Derrick Borlie, the Hokies 197-pounder, placed fourth and did not pick up an automatic bid to NCAAs. He will wait until March 13th to find out if he earned one of the four wild card bids at his weight. The Virginia Tech Wrestling Team will travel to the NCAA Wrestling Tournament on March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa.
125- Jarrod Garnett (1st)
133- Erik Spjut (3rd)
141- Zach Neibert (2nd)
149- Nick Brascetta (1st)
157- Jesse Dong (1st)
165- Pete Yates (1st)
174- Austin Gabel (3rd)
184- Nick Vetterlein (4th)
197- Derrick Borlie (4th)
285- David Marone (1st)