To kick off the 2023-2024 NCAA dual season, the #5 Virginia Tech Hokies will host the #8 Ohio State Buckeyes in Blacksburg, Virginia on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.
This is a rematch from last year’s dual opener, where the Buckeyes earned an 18-13 victory over the Hokies in Columbus, Ohio. Now heading to Blacksburg, the Hokies will get their shot at redemption and look to defend their #5 ranking in the Cassell Coliseum.
Virginia Tech had a remarkable 2022-2023 season, placing ninth at the NCAA Championships as a team. The Hokies will return five All-Americans and 11 NCAA Qualifiers for the 2023-2024 season, and currently holds the highest ranking in Hokies program history at #5 (NWCA Coaches Poll).
For the Buckeyes, this is the start of a very tough dual schedule throughout the year. However, Ohio State comes into the season with seven wrestlers ranked in the top-25, and four ranked in the top-10. It’s a quite young but talented Ohio State roster, and will be an interesting team to follow throughout the season.
Here are the projected matchups for Friday night:
125: Brendan McCrone/Peyton Fenton (OSU) vs. #4 Eddie Ventresca (VT)
133: #16 Nic Bouzakis (OSU) vs. #4 Sam Latona (VT)
141: #5 Jesse Mendez (OSU) vs. Hunter Mason (VT)
149: #9 Dylan D’Emilio (OSU) vs. #4 Caleb Henson (VT)
157: #15 Paddy Gallagher (OSU) vs. #6 Bryce Andonian (VT)
165: #16 Bryce Hepner (OSU) vs. #22 Connor Brady (VT)
174: #7 Carson Kharchla (OSU) vs. #3 Mekhi Lewis (VT)
184: Ryder Rogotzke/Seth Shumate (OSU) vs. #15 Sam Fisher (VT)
197: #11 Gavin Hoffman (OSU) vs. #17 Andy Smith (VT)
285: #25 Nick Feldman (OSU) vs. #20 Hunter Catka (VT)
Virginia Tech over Ohio State, 19-13.
This dual can most definitely end up being very close, depending if Ohio State can win some big swing matches on the road.
In my opinion, Ohio State will have to win two matches between 149-174, OR win the upset over Latona at 133-pounds. I believe Feldman can defeat Catka at 285-pounds, so if the Buckeyes can pull out some big wins early on in this dual, it can become really competitive coming down to the last two bouts.
The most intriguing bout of the night will be at 174-pounds between #3 Mekhi Lewis (VT) and #7 Carson Kharchla (OSU). These two have surprisingly never faced each other throughout their collegiate career and it should end up being a really close and exciting bout to watch. Both wrestlers are elite defensively and I think this bout will be tight and low scoring.