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Virginia Tech grapplers ready to uphold “National Contender” status

2019 National Champion Mekhi Lewis has returned to the Hokies’ competition mats after using an Olympic redshirt last season.

BLACKSBURG, Va. – It’s a wrestling program that is solidified on a national scale with six top 10 finishes in the past eight seasons. So it is no surprise to see the Hokies ranked 8th in the nation.

“I think that’s the standard we’ve set for the program and for us it’s about these guys continuing to improve and climnbing up the rankings and just continuing to get better,” said Virginia Tech wrestling coach Tony Robie. He’s entering his 4th season as head coach and signed a contract extension during the offseason.

The season started a few months later than usual due to COVID but the Hokies didn’t stall-- rather they’re showing that they have a strong hold on their approach.

“We changed things a little bit, I guess, just because we weren’t competing in November like we typically do. So, we didn’t have to rush into things like we had in the past,” Robie said.

It has led to an undefeated start and impressive performances from younger wrestlers like Christiansburg products, Hunter Bolen and Andy Smith.

“I don’t know if it’s something in the water in Christiansburg but those guys both bring incredible toughness evertime they step out there,” said Robie.

18th ranked Sam Latona is also making his presence know eary in the season after recently being named an ACC co-wrestler of the week.

“We have goals and we’re trying to accomplish those goals and we have some unfinished business we’re trying to get to,” said Latona. He wrestles in the 125 division after redshirting last season.

“We want to accomplish those goals and we’re working everyday to get there.”

One man who has been “there”? Top-ranked, 2019 NCAA Champion Mekhi Lewis. He’s back on the Hokies mats after using an Olympic redshirt last season.

“He’s going to win a lot of matches. And when he can dominate guys, he’s going to dominate guys and that’s truly what we’re looking for. We want to make sure we try to set the bar and impose our will on our competition,” said Robie.

“Our culture is awesome on the team. It’s the best its been since I’ve been here and we all bring each other up and make each other better. And that’s why we’re going to accomplish big things this year,” said Latona.

Accomplishing big things by doing the small things, with hopes of bringing hardare back to Blacksburg.

About the Author:

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.