The Virginia Tech wrestling team finished in sixth place in the team competition at the NCAA Wrestling Championships held Thursday through Saturday at the Scottrade Center.
The Hokies, who finished in the top 10 for the fifth straight season, stood in sixth place going Saturday’s championship matches. Minnesota had a chance to pass the Hokies, but both Brett Pfarr (197 pounds) and Ethan Lizak (125) lost in their respective finals matches. The Hokies put up 63.5 points and ended up ahead of the Golden Gophers by a point.
The Hokies sat in sixth place with 63.5 points, with only the championship finals to be held Saturday night. The finish marks Tech’s fifth straight top-10 finish, and the Hokies’ five All-Americans were tied for the third-most among the teams that competed at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
“I feel like, for the most part, we competed really well at this event,” Tech interim coach Tony Robie said. “I think people need to understand that there are a lot of really good wrestling teams around the country. Really good teams. We’re certainly one of them. In this tournament, there is a razor-thin margin for error, and we had a little bit, but not a lot. A lot of teams feel that way, but again, we had a lot of good things happen, and five All-Americans is pretty good.
Dance finished in fifth place after UVA’s Jack Mueller, the No. 10 seed, medically forfeited, and went 30-3 this season. He concluded his career at Tech with three ACC championships, two All-America honors and 114 wins.
“After losing [in the quarterfinals], I was like, ‘Well, I’ve been there before,’” Dance said. “I remember two years ago, I went into the bathroom here right after I lost to Gilman and I remember crying and banging my head against the wall. I smashed my first against the ground. I remembered that, and I’m like, ‘That’s not going to be you this year.’ So I just thought about that and thought to myself, ‘You deserve this. You need to show everyone how good you can be.’ I didn’t do it today, but I’m an All-American, and I’ve still got more to prove.”
On Saturday night, All-Americans were recognized, both in the Parade of All-Americans before the championship matches and also during the championship matches, as the NCAA presented All-America plaques to each of the top eight finishers in each weight class. Tech’s five All-Americans – Joey Dance (125), Solomon Chishko (149), Sal Mastriani (157), Jared Haught (197) and Ty Walz (heavyweight) – all participated.
Walz, a fifth-year senior, leaves Tech as a three-time All-American – just one of three in the history of the program (Devin Carter and Nick Brascetta). Chishko and Haught earned All-America honors for the second straight year. Dance followed his 2014 All-America honor with the one this year, while Mastriani is an All-American for the first time.
The NCAA Wrestling Championships marked the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.
“You can’t really say enough about those guys in terms of leaving their mark on Virginia Tech wrestling,” Robie said. “That’s what you want to do. Whenever you’re involved with an organization or spend four or five years somewhere, you want to leave your mark, and those guys have all left their mark in their own way. Hate to see them go. Feel real strongly about those guys with the relationship and what they’ve committed to the program and given to the program. But that’s the way it goes. They’re moving on, and some new guys are going to move in and have an opportunity.”
— Courtesy of VT Athletics