Wrestling Preview: No. 3 Ohio State Faces Second Top-15 Test of the Weekend in No. 11 Virginia Tech

By Andy Vance on November 17, 2019 at 9:35 am
Covelli Center

Ohio State passed a stiff road test Friday at No. 15 Pittsburgh, winning its first road dual of the season and defeating the first of several ranked opponents on the schedule. FloWrestling declared Ohio State's non-conference schedule the toughest in the Big Ten, and the weekend's slate of two Top-15 opponents is a good example why as the Buckeyes come back to Covelli to host No. 11 Virginia Tech Sunday at noon.

Virginia Tech
2-0, 0-0 ACC


BROADCAST: Big Ten Network

Head coach Tom Ryan said his belief is that his teams will learn to "execute in chaos" by facing the toughest opponents he can get on the schedule every year.

"If you lose during the year, it doesn’t in any way shape or form, from a team standpoint, hurt when you get to the end of the year," Ryan explained. "So the thinking is, let’s make it as challenging as we can, so come the end of the year our guys have seen any of their lesser strengths are exposed."

Wrestling in the Big Ten already presents the toughest slate of opponents possible, so Ryan said not every Big Ten school wants to wrestle a tougher non-conference slate, "but as we move into the Big Ten schedule, we’ll have seen some tougher teams to get ready for what’s coming."

Stanford looked on paper like one of the easier opponents in the non-conference portion of the season, but after the Cardinal upset a ranked North Carolina, things look a little different.

The Virginia Tech Hokies

Head Coach: Tony Robie

Probable Matchups
125 No. 21 Malik Heinselman (5-3, So.) Joey Prata (2-0, r-Jr.)
133 No. 18 Quinn Kinner (5-3, r-Fr.) No. 17 Collin Gerardi (1-1, r-Fr.)
141 No. 1 Luke Pletcher (7-0, Sr.) No. 19 Mitch Moore (2-0, So.)
149 No. 6 Sammy Sasso (7-0, r-Fr.) No. 21 Brent Moore (0-2, r-Jr.) -OR-
Jake Hart (5-0, r-Fr.)
157 Elijah Cleary (2-3, r-Jr.) No. 13 B.C. LaPrade (1-1, r-Jr.)
165 No. 21 Ethan Smith (5-3, r-So.) No. 4 David McFadden (2-0, r-Sr.)
174 Rocky Jordan (7-2, r-Fr.) -OR-
No. 20 Kaleb Romero (7-0)
Cody Hughes (0-2, r-Sr.)
184 Gavin Hoffman (5-3, r-Fr.) -OR-
Zach Steiner (1-0, r-So.)
No. 9 Hunter Bolen (2-0, r-So.)
197 No. 1 Kollin Moore (7-0, r-Sr.) Stan Smeltzer (3-3, r-So.)
HWT No. 9 Chase Singletary (1-0, r-So.) John Borst (2-0, r-So.)

Virginia Tech is making a name for itself as a wrestling program to be reckoned with. Now in his third season as head coach of the Hokies, he just signed the program's highest-ranked recruiting class by signing six nationally-ranked prospects on last week's national signing day. Tech was one of only two schools with three signees in the Top-30 on FloWrestling's Class of 2019 Big Board.
Robie and his staff surpassed their No. 4 class ranking from last season, which was tied for their highest ever with 2013's class. Wrestlers are looking at Tech like never before, in no small part because of the success the program has had since Robie joined staff in 2006 as an assistant.

Last season Robie helped coached Mekhi Lewis to the program’s first national championship and Most Outstanding Wrestler honors at the 2019 NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh. The Hokies finished in the top 11 at the NCAA tournament for the eighth-consecutive season; Tech had three All-Americans and three ACC champions in Lewis, Zack Zavatsky and David McFadden.

Robie’s performance earned him 2019 ACC Coach of the Year accolades, his second time receiving the honor. He is the first man in conference history to coach his team to an ACC Championship in each of his first two seasons.

Ohio State and Virginia Tech first wrestled in 1963 and have squared off 16 times over the years, with the Buckeyes winning 14 of those meetings. The Hokies took the most recent meeting on criteria, 19-18, in November 2014.

While Ohio State has a tough schedule this season, Tech faces its third ranked opponent of the season in the Buckeyes: the Hokies have already defeated No. 9 Missouri and No. 21 Northwestern to start their season.

Notable Matchups

Sunday's meet should feature four ranked vs. ranked bouts, and the Hokies will start six wrestlers numbered among Flo's Top 25; Ohio State fields seven. Ohio State's pair of No. 1 wrestlers – Kollin Moore and Luke Pletcher – both recorded bonus-point victories Friday in Pittsburgh, as did phenom Sammy Sasso at 149.

141 pounds: No. 1 Luke Pletcher vs. No. 19 Mitch Moore

Like many of the best wrestlers in the country, Moore is an Ohio native. He and brother Brent are products of the famed Graham wrestling program in St. Paris, as of course was Ohio State assistant coach Bo Jordan and current Buckeye wrestler Rocky Jordan.

Moore is 2-0 on the season, with both wins coming by fall, including one in just 26 seconds against Missouri's Alex Butler. The sophomore placed second in the ACC last season and qualified for the NCAA tournament as a true freshman; 10 of his 18 victories were by fall.

149 pounds: No. 6 Sammy Sasso vs. No. 21 Brent Moore

As mentioned previously, Moore is from Ohio and like younger brother Mitch was a multi-year Ohio high school champion. The 2018 ACC Champion at 141 pounds is 0-2 on the season, but held No. 2 Brock Mauller to a decision in Virginia Tech's 29-10 win over Missouri in the season opener.

Sasso has been lightning in a bottle this season, on the other hand, winning 6 of his 7 total victories by pin or by tech fall. He recorded his fourth pin of the season Friday at Pitt.

165 pounds: No. 21 Ethan Smith vs. No. 4 David McFadden

Smith dropped a tough decision Friday vs. No. 15 Jake Wentzel. He faces an even tougher test Sunday against the No. 4 man in the country.

McFadden is a three-time NCAA All-American and two-time ACC Champ. The redshirt senior has plenty of experience to his credit, and is cruising so far this season. Smith will have his work cut out for him, but as he showed last season in his first year as a starter, he has the talent necessary to hang with the best in the country if he can pull it all together.

Buckeye Breakdown

Although Virginia Tech is ranked higher than Pittsburgh, heading into the Friday dual it felt like the Panthers might present more of a "dogfight" for the Buckeyes than they did. Hosting Virginia Tech may set up more in Ohio State's favor, at least on paper.

The Buckeyes have the clear upper hand in six of 10 matches, while 133 also looks like a likely win for the Buckeyes based on Quinn Kinner's performance since dropping down.

Ultimately the Buckeyes should win seven of 10 and win the dual with plenty of breathing room. Questions for the home team include who gets the start at 174 and 184.

At 174, Ohio State listed Rocky Jordan as the starter in its probable lineups for both Pitt and Tech, but continued to start undefeated Kaleb Romero Friday. At 184, Hoffman started Friday but couldn't get past No. 11 Nino Bonaccorsi; Zach Steiner is listed as an -OR- with Hoffman on Sunday's probable matches.

Action kicks off at High Noon from Covelli Arena, and will air live on the Big Ten Network.

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