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No. 14 Rutgers wrestling to face No. 5 Virginia Tech in home opener

The Rutgers wrestling team will have its hands full for Friday's top-15 showdown against Virginia Tech. – Photo by

The Rutgers wrestling team will return to Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus to face off against Virginia Tech on Friday. The Scarlet Knights (2-0, 0-0) opened their season with strong victories over Duke and Cal Poly. 

The Hokies (1-1, 0-0) have had an uneven start to the season, as they fell to Ohio State 24-12 and then defeated American University in dominant fashion, winning 39-4. 

No. 5 Virginia Tech sent 10 wrestlers to the NCAA Championship last season and finished in ninth place as a team at the tournament. The Hokies return many talented wrestlers and will not be an easy opponent for No. 14 Rutgers on Friday.

The Knights will need to be prepared for No. 3 Mekhi Lewis. Lewis, an All-American, was the national champion for his weight class in 2019 and had a 22-3 record last season for Virginia Tech despite dealing with injuries. No. 28 senior 174-pounder Jackson Turley will likely match up against Lewis this weekend. 

No. 4 Caleb Henson, an All-American, had a breakout freshman campaign for the Hokies last season as he finished in fifth place at the NCAA Championship and owned a 27-5 record. No. 23 graduate student 149-pounder Jacob Butler should face off against Henson.

No. 4 Eddie Ventresca, No. 7 Sam Latona and No. 6 Bryce Andonian were all named All-Americans and placed seventh in their respective weight classes at the NCAA Championship last season. The three should make an impact in their bouts. 

Rutgers has only faced Virginia Tech twice in program history, with the Knights' last win coming in 2011.

Rutgers will look to No. 6 junior 125-pounder Dean Peterson, No. 10 sophomore 184-pounder Brian Soldano and No. 10 junior 197-pounder John Poznanski to make an impact in their matches. 

No. 6 graduate student 285-pounder Yaraslau Slavikouski will likely take on No. 16 Hunter Catka in the final bout this weekend. Catka had a 19-8 overall record last season for the Hokies. Slavikouski is coming off two dominant wins in the Knights' opening duals, which he earned through a major decision and a technical fall. 

Rutgers will then travel to West Point, New York, on Sunday for the Black Knight Invitational hosted by Army. The Knights will have select wrestlers compete in the tournament.

The match between Rutgers and Virginia Tech will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus and 88.7 WRSU-FM. The Black Knight Invitational will be streamed on FloWrestling.

 For more updates on the Rutgers wrestling team, follow @TargumSports on X.

To view more of Matthew Mangam's work, follow @matthewmangam on X.

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