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Virginia Tech Athletics | March 4, 2017

Virginia Tech captures ACC crown behind six individual titles

  Virginia Tech won their third overall and its first since 2014

RALEIGH, N.C – Seven Virginia Tech wrestlers made it to the finals of their respective weight class and six won individual titles to carry the Virginia Tech wrestling team to the Atlantic Coast Conference team title at the ACC Championship held at Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday.

Behind the individual titles, the Hokies racked up 93 points, easily beating NC State, which came in second with 64. The tournament title marked the program’s third overall and its first since 2014. Combined with three straight dual meet titles, the Hokies have now won six ACC team championships.

“It feels good, obviously,” Tech interim coach Tony Robie said. “The goal every year for us is to win championships and win ACC championships. I think to win the dual meet title and then win the tournament title – I believe we’re the first team to do that – says a lot about our guys and our team and our program. It says a lot about our coaching staff and the direction that we’re going.

“I think our guys have come together in the last few weeks, and they’re ready to go. They know what this time of year is about. They’re seasoned, and their prepared. It’s just a matter of competing and going and taking what we feel like we’ve earned. It was a good day.”

Joey Dance (125 pounds), Solomon Chishko (149), Zach Epperly (174), Zack Zavatsky (184), Jared Haught (197) and Ty Walz (heavyweight) all claimed individual titles. Dance became the fifth Tech wrestler in program history to win three career ACC titles, while Zavatsky won his second straight. The other four won their first titles.

Dance got things started in the championship finals, recording a 3-1 win over No. 3 seed Sean Fausz in sudden victory at 125 pounds. Both wrestlers recorded an escape in regulation, but Dance got the takedown quickly in the extra frame to get the win and beat Fausz in the finals for the second straight year. The No. 3-ranked wrestler nationally his weight class moved to 25-1 overall on the season.

“We had the hashtag going that it’s all about us (#AllAboutUs),” Dance said. “I think we showed everyone that it really is all about us. Whatever happened with [Kevin] Dresser and all that stuff, we didn’t let that affect us. We were ready to go here at the ACCs and we’ll be ready to go at nationals. We stayed poised and focused the whole time, and the team looked good today.”

At 149 pounds, Chishko won his first ACC title with a 12-7 decision over No. 3 seed Troy Heilmann of North Carolina. Chishko got an early takedown and never trailed, adding a takedown in the second and three takedowns in the third period to pull away. Chishko, ranked sixth nationally at 149, moved to 21-3 on the season.

At 174 pounds, Epperly won a tight match against North Carolina’s Ethan Ramos, avenging last year’s loss to Ramos in the finals and claiming his first ACC title. Epperly, the top seed, got a takedown in the third period to grab a 4-3 lead and then refused to let Ramos escape, riding him for the final 20 seconds of the match. Epperly’s 4-3 win moved him to 19-1 on the season.

RELATED: ASU captures first Pac-12 title in 11 years

“I got that final takedown there,” Epperly said. “I just kept working front headlocks. I got in there quite a few times, and over time, I got him pretty tired. I was fortunate enough to spin around and just ride tough. The last time we met, I rode him out the entire third period, so I knew I was good on time and had a good chance to ride him out. The last 20 seconds, I told myself, ‘You’ve got to do it now. I don’t want to go to OT.”

Zavatsky survived a hard-fought match at 184 against NC State’s Michael Macchiavello. He got a first-period takedown and an escape in the second period and made it stand in a 3-2 win, avenging a loss to Macchiavello in Blacksburg three weeks ago. Zavatsky, ranked sixth nationally, moved to 24-2 on the season.

At 197, Haught got two takedowns in the first period against North Carolina’s Daniel Chaid to grab a lead that he would not relinquish, beating Chaid 6-3. He also got a bloody nose in the match and Chaid received a penalty point for grabbing Haught’s headgear. Still, Haught, the No. 3-ranked wrestler nationally at 197 pounds, moved to 24-2 on the season.

Walz capped a near-perfect ending for the Hokies, avenging an early-season loss to Duke’s Jacob Kasper. Walz used two first-period takedowns to grab the lead and then finished Kasper with two third-period takedowns in winning 8-2. Walz, ranked fourth nationally at heavyweight, is now 22-2 on the season.

“We’re stronger,” Walz said. “We’re closer. Anything that hits us bounces right off, and we’re a powerful force moving together. We’re going to accomplish our goals that we set out to do at the end of the year.”

Tech’s Sal Mastriani also made it to the finals, but fell 13-5 to Pittsburgh’s Taleb Rahmani at 157 pounds and finished in second place. Dennis Gustafson came in third at 133 pounds after beating No. 2 seed Will Mason of Virginia 16-7 in the consolation finals.

The Hokies now take a week off to get ready for the NCAA Championships, which will be held March 16-18 in St. Louis, Missouri.


125: No. 1 seed Joey Dance (2-0, CHAMPION)

First round – BYE

Semifinals – def. No. 4 seed LJ Bentley (Pittsburgh), 17-4 MD

Finals – def. No. 3 seed Sean Fausz (NC State), 3-1 (SV)

133: No. 5 seed Dennis Gustafson (3-1)

First round – def. No. 4 seed Cole Baumgartner (Duke), 12-3 MD

Semifinals – loses to No. 1 seed Dom Forys (Pittsburgh), 8-4

Consolation semifinals – def. No. 6 seed Nicholas Lirette (UNC), 10-5

Consolation finals – def. No. 2 seed Will Mason (UVA), 16-7 MD

141: No. 6 seed Kevin Norstrem (0-2)

First round – lost to No. 3 seed Joey Ward (UNC), 6-1

Consolation semifinals – lost to No. 5 seed Nick Zanetta (Pittsburgh), 7-5 (SV)

149: No. 1 seed Solomon Chishko (2-0, CHAMPION)

First round – BYE

Semifinals – def. No. 4 seed Sam Krivus (UVA), 3-1

Finals – def. No. 3 seed Troy Heilmann (UNC), 12-7

157: No. 1 seed Sal Mastriani (1-1)

First round – BYE

Semifinals – def. No. 4 seed Andrew Atkinson (UVA), 11-5

Finals – lost to No. 3 seed Taleb Rahmani (Pittsburgh), 13-5 MD

165: No. 5 seed David Bergida (0-2)

First round – lost to No. 4 seed Ray Bethea (UVA), 3-2

Consolation semifinals – lost to No. 3 seed David Kane (UNC), 13-7

174: No. 1 seed Zach Epperly (2-0, CHAMPION)

First round – BYE

Semifinals – def. No. 4 seed Nick Reenan (NC State), 4-1

Finals – def. No. 2 seed Ethan Ramos (UNC), 4-3

184: No. 2 seed Zack Zavatsky (2-0, CHAMPION)

First round – BYE

Semifinals – def. No. 3 seed Alec Schenk (Duke), 13-4

Finals – def. No. 1 seed Michael Macchiavello (NC State), 3-2

197: No. 1 seed Jared Haught (2-0, CHAMPION)

First round – BYE

Semifinals – def. No. 4 seed Chance McClure (UVA), TF 6:31 (21-6)

Finals – def. No. 3 seed Daniel Chaid (UNC), 6-3

285: No. 1 seed Ty Walz (2-0, CHAMPION)

First round – BYE

Semifinals – def. No. 5 seed Cory Daniel (UNC), 17-6 MD

Finals – def. No. 2 seed Jacob Kasper (Duke), 8-2

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