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#8 Virginia Tech snaps #3 PackWrestle’s dual win streak via tiebreaker, 17-16

Senior 174-pounder, Daniel Bullard
Photo by Carie Dernlan @ Dec 22 NLWC Event

NC State (5-1, 3-1) traveled up to Blacksburg attempting to earn a share of the ACC Dual Championship by taking on #8 Virginia Tech (8-0, 4-0). The Pack won five of ten bouts, one for bonus, but fell to the Hokies on tiebreaking criteria, 17-16.

The dual began at 133 pounds with #13 Jarrett Trombley facing #7 Korbin Myers. There’s no nice way to put this, but Myers absolutely worked the Pack sophomore. There is nothing about the Hokies’ sixth-year senior that looks like the 7th-ranked 133-pounder in the country. He looked like a national finalist tonight, and cruised to a 13-5 major decision. Tariq answered at 141 with a slow, but methodical 5-1 victory.

At 149, the fireworks were on full display. Both Ed Scott and #16 Bryce Andonian love to go big, and they did just that on several occasions. Andonian was just the more experienced guy and took the 9-5 decision. In a non-dual setting where Scott doesn’t have to be so cautious for the team’s sake, I think he can follow his big-move instincts and give the Hokie a run for his money. But you could tell he was holding back a bit, desperate not to give up any bonus points that would jeopardize the dual for the team. Hayden Hidlay followed with a 9-4 decision over freshman Connor Brady. This brought the team score to 7-6 VT after four bouts, which is where I started to get a little concerned. Two of our senior leaders wrestled unranked Hokie freshmen and neither came away with bonus points. At that point, it became clear we would need to win one of the marquee toss-up matches: 125 or 184.

At 165, defending NCAA Champ #1 Mekhi Lewis cruised to a dominant 5-0 decision over Thomas Bullard. I thought Thomas started out well, pushing the pace and making Mekhi work. He kept the match scoreless heading into the 2nd period, but was unable to sustain anything from there. Mekhi escaped quickly to start the 2nd, then got a takedown, and rode the entire 3rd period. He was dominant in a match I expected to be close. Luckily, this momentum was quickly halted by Daniel Bullard. He generated good offense from his feet and accumulated more than four minutes of riding time to earn the 10-2 major. There was the bonus point we needed. Dual tied back up at 10-10 with four bouts remaining - two that we’re favored in (197 & 285), and the two crucial toss-ups (184 & 125).

This was the third meeting between Hidlay and Bolen, but it looked just like the first two. Both guys fighting for position, shutting down the other’s offense, almost as if they’ve been training partners since grade school and they know everything about each other. It’s a grueling and fascinating stalemate, but somehow Bolen found a way to win again. This time by earning 1:05 of riding time. They both traded escapes, but Trent was essentially down 2-1 with the riding point. With less than a minute left, Trent needed a takedown and was unable to find one. A near locked-hands infraction that was denied on review, and being about a shoe size away from staying in-bounds and securing a takedown were the stories of the third period. Neither situation went Trent’s way and it left the team in a pickle. At this point, it became evident that we could be heading for a tiebreaker situation. In the event that the dual is tied after ten bouts, there are certain criteria to break the deadlock. First and second were going to be equal most likely, so Criteria C was looking like the one to track - at this time the match points were in favor of VT, 36-35.

At 197, freshman Isaac Trumble got the nod once again, however he was facing Stanley Smeltzer rather than the expected Andy Smith. Smeltzer came out firing, and once again Trumble found himself surrendering the first two takedowns. But he used a takedown in the 2nd, and rideout in the 3rd to take the 6-5 decision. Dual tied back at 13-13 and match points now at 41-41.

At heavyweight, Deonte used two escapes and a stall point to earn a 3-1 victory. This gave NC State the lead in team points (16-13) and the match points tiebreaker (44-42). There was a point with a minute remaining in the opening period where his opponent, John Borst, appeared to have injured his elbow. By rule, after the injury time Deonte was allowed his choice of position. He chose bottom and was able to earn a quick escape. That extra point made this bout a lot more comfortable for Deonte, but in hindsight you would have liked to see him push to score more, especially considering the discomfort that Borst showed earlier on. I’m not sure the coaches were aware of the tiebreaker being so close, but it would have been nice to go into the final match with more than a two point lead. Regardless, this is where we found ourselves with a top-10 showdown for all the marbles. Jakob Camacho was able to secure the first takedown of the match and tacked on an escape to take a 3-0 lead early in the 2nd. But from there, it looked like the pressure of fending off Latona got to him, and the Hokie freshman fed off of it. He was able to secure a takedown of his own to close the score to 4-3 late in the third. Unfortunately, a downright egregious stall call earlier in the match made it so Camacho had to engage rather than evade. He was unable to tick off the remaining time, and Latona found the winning takedown and two near-fall points as time expired. This tied the dual at 16-16, but gave the Hokies the 49-48 edge in the tiebreaker.

This wouldn’t have changed the result of the individual match, but I’m not so sure the two back points came before time expired, which if negated, would have resulted in a dual win for NC State by Criteria C, 48-47. You watch the clip below and judge for yourself...

#3 NC State 16-17* #8 Virginia Tech

  • 133: #7 Korbin Myers (VT) major dec. #13 Jarrett Trombley (NCSU); 13-5 (0-4 VT)
  • 141: #10 Tariq Wilson (NCSU) dec. Sam Hillegas (VT); 5-1 (3-4 VT)
  • 149: #16 Bryce Andonian (VT) dec. Ed Scott (NCSU); 9-5 (3-7 VT)
  • 157: #2 Hayden Hidlay (NCSU) dec. Connor Brady (VT); 9-4 (6-7 VT)
  • 165: #1 Mekhi Lewis (VT) dec. #13 Thomas Bullard (NCSU); 5-0 (6-10 VT)
  • 174: #15 Daniel Bullard (NCSU) major dec. Dakota Howard (VT); 10-2 (10-10)
  • 184: #2 Hunter Bolen (VT) dec. #3 Trent Hidlay (NCSU); 2-1 (10-13 VT)
  • 197: #5 Isaac Trumble (NCSU) dec. Stanley Smeltzer (VT); 6-5 (13-13)
  • 285: #17 Deonte Wilson (NCSU) dec. #19 John Borst (VT); 3-1 (16-13 NCSU)
  • 125: #10 Sam Latona (VT) dec. #2 Jakob Camacho (NCSU); 7-4 (16-17* VT)

*VT awarded winning point for criteria

It wasn’t the way we all wanted it to end, but man what a dual! My heart was racing the entire time.

And if a couple borderline calls go in NC State’s favor, they maybe escape with another ACC Dual Championship. Unfortunately, that honor will go to Virginia Tech this season, and it is well-deserved. They are a great team. The Pack returns to Reynolds next Friday for their final dual of the season against Duke.