Virginia Tech bests OSU in Regional Duals
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 01:02
No. 9 Oregon State failed to advance to the Cliff Keen National Duals, falling to No. 7 Virginia Tech with a final score of 20-15 Sunday at Gill Coliseum.
The Beavers (11-4, 3-1 Pac-12) stuck with the Hokies (16-2, 5-0 ACC) early on, tying the contest 6-6 after four matches, but allowed too many bonus points down the stretch.
“I don’t think we came out our best,” said head coach Jim Zalesky. “We lost a lot of those close matches and some little things went Virginia Tech’s way.”
The turning point came in the fifth match of the meet, when No. 10 RJ Pena of Oregon State took on No. 7 Jesse Dong in the 157-pound matchup.
Pena came out aggressive and claimed a 4-2 lead going into the final period, but in a hard-fought third period Pena allowed an escape and takedown, falling behind 5-4.
With barely more than 30 seconds remaining, Pena needed an escape to force overtime, but wasn’t able to separate from Dong.
“We were up 4-2 and we just stopped wrestling,” Zalesky said. “We didn’t put any more points on the scoreboard after that so we just had to finish matches. If we get a win there we had a chance, but there were a lot of matches that kind of went that way.”
After Pena’s defeat, Virginia Tech reeled off a technical fall and two decisions, putting the meet out of reach for good and ending Oregon State’s hopes of advancing to National Duals in Minneapolis, Minn.
It wasn’t all bad for Oregon State, however, as the Beavers beat No. 19 Michigan 22-13 earlier in the day to get to the final against Virginia Tech.
The Beavers got out to a fast start, claiming a 10-6 lead before Michigan fired back. The Wolverines won a 13-7 decision in the 165-pound weight class and then a 14-4 major decision in the 174-pound weight class to grab a 13-9 lead.
With No. 19 Ty Vinson, a 184-pound senior, out of the lineup because of a nagging hamstring injury, it wasn’t clear who would wrestle for the Beavers in the 184-pound weight class until moments before the match began.
Oregon State needed a win and looked to junior Austin Morehead to salvage the match. Morehead more than answered the call, getting a crucial pin and six team points to put the Beavers up for good.
“It got us the win pretty much,” Morehead said. “It got us in that tempo and set up Meeks for a big match so I think it helped out a lot. It wasn’t just me, but I think it helped the momentum.”
No. 6 Taylor Meeks, a 197-pound sophomore, followed the pin with a win on a 7-5 decision.
“It was really big,” Meeks said of Morehead’s pin. “It took the pressure off me and Hanke so that we didn’t have to go for the big points. Anytime somebody pins someone and gets bonus points it’s big.”
The win was particularly satisfying for an Oregon State team looking for revenge after falling to Michigan 21-18 in Gill Coliseum on Nov. 16, 2012.
“[Michigan] was a good test for us, both team-wise and individual-wise,” Zalesky said. “There were a lot of good ranked guys on that team that wrestled well so it was a good meet for us.”
Following the loss to Virginia Tech, Oregon State will get a couple weeks off before the Pac-12 Championships on March 2 in Tempe, Ariz.
The Beavers hope to learn from their mistakes this weekend and build before defending their Pac-12 championship.
“It’s just more motivation,” Meeks said. “Now we need to get back in the room and work on the things we did wrong to try and improve before the Pac-12 Championships.”
Andrew Kilstrom, sports reporter