No. 7 Virginia Tech Wrestling Travels To Durham To Face Duke

No. 7 Virginia Tech Wrestling Travels To Durham To Face Duke

Virginia Tech and Tony Robie will look to recover from their loss to Pitt with a win at Duke. (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech No. 7 travels to Durham Friday night to face Duke. The Hokies lost to No. 16 Pitt last Friday to fall 1-1 in the ACC after beating the No. 8 NC state in their conference opener.

Duke presents a less daunting challenge for VT than the last two games, but a win is needed to keep Tech in contention for the ACC Dual Meet title.

The Blue Devils are the third of five straight ACC duals to end the season. North Carolina and Virginia will follow over the next two weekends.

There won’t be any special games against Duke, but there are a few areas that will be crucial for Virginia Tech on Friday night and throughout the rest of the regular season.

Sam Latona and the Hokies have lost their last six overtime games. (Ivan Morozov)

Win more games in overtime:

The Hokies have lost their last six games going into overtime. Last week, No. 7 Sam Latona (133) fell in the tiebreak round to No. 6 Micky Phillippi and Hunter Catka (HWT), No. 23, lost his second straight overtime game to No. 5 Dayton Pitzer .

One area where the Hokies have particularly struggled during OT matches is preventing opponents from capitalizing when a VT wrestler takes a shot.

Ensuring that every punch is effective and that weaker punches don’t become points for the opposing wrestler will be key for Tech against Duke and the rest of the ACC schedule.

Avoid falls:

Virginia Tech is used to making profits in the fall and not falling victim to them.

Hunter Bolen was one of two Virginia Tech wrestlers who were pinned against Pitt. (Ivan Morozov)

Against Pitt, Cooper Flynn was laid on his back by Colton Camacho just 44 seconds into his fight. No. 8 Hunter Bolen suffered the same fate against No. 18 Reece Heller, only the second time in the Christiansburg native’s career that he was brought down by a fall.

Those two pins made the difference for Pitt versus Tech. While Duke poses no threat in that regard, staying off the mat on the track will be crucial for the Hokies.

Take effective shots:

Head coach Tony Robie has said time and time again that he believes the best way to win the NCAA tournament is to go out there and start scoring points.

The Hokies need to make calculated shots to ensure they’re the ones to score on those shots. That means using the quality of looks and getting a strong finish to earn points, which in turn leads to more bonus point wins.

Bryce Andonian and the Hokies are still in good shape in the ACC, but they can’t afford to slip up. (Ivan Morozov)

Prediction: No. 7 Virginia Tech 48, Duke 0

*All matchups are based on Wrestlestat’s predicted matches*

125: Eddie Ventreca/Cooper Flynn (VT) Dec. Logan Agin (DUKE)

133: No.7 Sam Latona (VT) wins by fall Drake Doolittle (DUKE)

141: No. 12 Tom Crook (VT) Tech crash Jarred Papscy (DUKE)

149: No.8 Caleb Henson (VT) wins by fall Patrick Rowland (DUKE)

157: No. 5 Bryce Andonian (VT) wins by fall Preston Decker (DUKE)

165: No. 26 Connor Brady (VT) May Dec Gabe Essecke (DUKE)

174: No.3 Mekhi Lewis (VT) Tech crash Conor Becker (DUKE)

184: No.8 Hunter Bolen (VT) Tech crash Luke Chakonis (DUKE)

197: #22 Andy Smith (VT) Tech crash Brayden Ray (DUKE)

285: No, 23. Hunter Catka (VT) Dec. #22 Jonah Neisenbaum (DUKE)

Virginia Tech has only one match that is considered a toss-up: Catka and Neisenbaum. I think Catka is getting back on track after two losses to go 3-1 all-time against the Duke heavyweight.

Outside of this fight, Tech is largely favored in every other match. Given the uncertainty at 125, there might be some cause for concern there, but those starting for the Hokies shouldn’t have much trouble against Duke’s Agin.

Friday night’s game in Durham is one that VT should win easily. If things go as expected for Virginia Tech, the team should have an easy time going 2-1 in the ACC.

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