This Friday night the #5 VT Hokies travel north to the Lehigh Valley to square off with #9 Lehigh at Grace Hall. VT comes into the match with 5 guys ranked in the top 5 and a few questions about the rest of the lineup. Lehigh comes in with 6 guys ranked in my top 20.
125lbs: #2 Joey Dance (VT) vs. #8 Darian Cruz (LU). Dance owns a 3 point victory over Cruz a few years back. If Cruz is aggressive from neutral this could be a really exciting match up. That said Dance’s neutral game is very crisp but can Cruz score from the top?
133lbs: Dennis Gustafson (VT) vs. Joe Lobeck (LU). Parker would provide much needed points here. Lobeck and Gustafson don’t have signature wins. Gustafson has dropped down from 141 early this season and will be a full size 133. I think that Gustafson’s experience will out weigh Lobeck’s home mat advantage.
141lbs: Kevin Norstrem or Brenden Ryan (VT) vs. #10 Randy Cruz (LU). VT forfeited this weight last week. This could be a bonus opportunity for Cruz and the Mountain Hawks.
149lbs: #7 Solomon Chishko (UVA) vs. #10 Laike Gardner (LU). It all depends who takes the mat for VT. It would be fun to see the ranked guys go but Chishko missed his last match. Chishko owns a close win over Gardner 2 years ago. Gardner has to be one of the most improved Lehigh grapplers this year. Bonus for Lehigh I Chishko is out? Toss up if Chishko goes.
157lbs: #15 Sal Mastriani (VT) vs. #5 Jordan Kutler (LU). Kutler’s attacks remind me of a bigger version of Logan Stieber, speed, reach and quick finishes. He also rides tough. I don’t think that Mastriani will get out from underneath. Lehigh regular decision.
165lbs: David Bergiada (VT) vs. Cole Walter, Mitch Minotti (LU). I think that Walter is gonna be really good with a bit more experience. He may have given Dylan Palacio to much respect last weekend. I think that Walter has a slight edge.
174lbs: #2 Zach Epperly (VT) vs. #6 Ryan Preisch (LU). This should be worth the price of admission. I think that Preisch has the slightest of edges here. I think they are about equal with attacks and game plan. I think that Preisch is a better scrambler, despite what happened with Realbuto. I think that the dual comes down to this match. Upset special Preisch.
184lbs: #4 Zack Zavatsky (VT) vs. Andrew Price (LU). This is where VT likes to pour it on and where Lehigh is vulnerable. Big bonus VT.
197lbs: #3 Jared Haught (VT) vs. Ben Haas. I think that Haught is a lot stronger and much more aggressive with a gas tank that is going to be a touch match up for Haas. More bonus; the plus for Lehigh is that Haught isn’t a pinner.
285lbs: #3 Ty Walz (VT) vs. #17 Doug Vollaro. Same here as 97, Walz has the clear edge but isn’t a pinner. VT might need bonus to win the dual, can he open up Vollaro?
I have VT 18-17. I know you may think I’m crazy but my batting average on picks is way up this season