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  • Photo: Photo/Mark Lundy

    Photo: Photo/Mark Lundy

    Missouri at Virginia Tech Preview & Predictions

    Daniel Lewis (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)

    The college wrestling season is right back at it following the short Thanksgiving break. No. 4 Missouri travels to Blacksburg, Va. to take on No. 8 Virginia Tech. The dual meet features 12 wrestlers currently ranked in the InterMat rankings and a match between the second and third ranked wrestlers at 197 pounds. The following is a weight-by-weight preview of the dual meet. The lineups are a prediction of each team's best squad.

    125: No. 19 Barlow McGhee (Missouri) vs. Kyle Norstrem (Virginia Tech)

    McGhee is back for his fifth year and looking to become an All-American for the first time. So far this season, he dropped his first match of the season in sudden victory against No. 13 Travis Piotrowski (Illinois). However, since then, he has bounced with with a string of victories and made his way back into the InterMat rankings. At the Lindenwood Open last week, McGhee defeated No. 20 Brock Hudkins (Northern Illinois) and three other wrestlers to take the title.

    Norstrem has started this season with a 7-3 record. He enters this match after picking up back-to-back wins over Alonzo Allen (Chattanooga) and Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan). Last year, during his redshirt season, Norstrem picked up a win over No. 15 Louie Hayes (Virginia).

    McGhee seems to cut a ton of weight to get down to 125. He has a size advantage over pretty much everyone in the division. This should allow to him control the pace of this match and take a decision victory.

    Prediction: McGhee (Missouri) dec. Norstrem (Virginia Tech)

    133: No. 9 John Erneste (Missouri) vs. No. 16 Dennis Gustafson (Virginia Tech)

    Erneste has been on a roll this season. At the Lindenwood Open, he took home first place with four wins and three coming via fall. Last season Erneste picked up signature wins over No.6 Mitchell McKee (Minnesota), No. 5 Bryan Lantry (Buffalo) and No. 15 Corey Keener (Penn State).

    While Gustafson does not have as many signature wins throughout his career, he has also started the season extremely strong. He has gone 8-1 with his only loss coming against Scotty Parker (Lehigh) at the Journeymen Classic. So far this year, he has defeated No. 18 Cameron Kelly (Ohio) and No. 17 Josh Terao (American).

    Erneste should be the favorite in this match, but Gustafson has shown that he has the ability to jump levels so far this season. Look for this to be a closer match than expected.

    Prediction: Erneste (Missouri) dec. Norstrem (Virginia Tech)

    141: No. 4 Jaydin Eierman (Missouri) vs. Brent Moore (Virginia Tech)

    Eierman is back for the Tigers after finishing fifth at the NCAA tournament and being named MAC "Freshman of the Year." So far this season, he has won all nine of his matches and bonused everyone other than Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State).

    Moore joined Tech last year as a top 100 recruit and a FloNationals champion. In his redshirt year, he went 26-6 with 16 bonus points wins. This year, he has started the season 5-5 but dropped back-to-back matches against Michael Pongracz (Chattanooga) and Mason Smith (Central Michigan).

    Moore has only given up bonus points twice in his collegiate career, but Eierman has been a man on a mission so far this season. He will certainly attempt to run up the score on Moore here.

    Prediction: Eierman (Missouri) tech fall over Moore (Virginia Tech)

    149: No. 18 Grant Leeth (Missouri) vs. No. 7 Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech)

    Leeth is back on the mat this season for the first time since his redshirt season at Duke in 2015. So far this season, he has gone 6-2 with his losses coming against Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State) and No. 18 Davion Jeffries (Oklahoma).

    Chishko has entered his junior season after already securing a pair of All-American seasons. He dropped a match against No. 11 Geo Martinez (Oklahoma State) at the Journeymen Classic, but he rebounded nicely with a victory over No. 7 Justin Oliver (Central Michigan) last weekend.

    Back in 2015 Chishko defeated Leeth 10-4 at the Appalachian Open. Since then Leeth has struggled with injuries, while Chishko has continued to develop. The Virginia Tech wrestler only scored bonus points in 23 percent of his matches last season, but he should be able to do it here.

    Prediction: Chishko (Virginia Tech) maj. dec. Leeth (Missouri)

    157: No. 2 Joey Lavallee (Missouri) vs. Ryan Blees (Virginia Tech)

    Lavallee became an All-American for the first time last season after finishing as the runner-up at 157. He lost only two matches last year including the national final. This year, he has once against started undefeated with an 8-0 record and five bonus point wins.

    Blees joined Tech last season after transferring from Oklahoma State. He held down the starting spot in multiple duals, but he did not represent the team in the ACC or NCAA tournaments. So far this season, Blees is 2-1 with a victory over Laken Cook (Appalachian State).

    During the 2016 season, Lavalle won an exciting 18-15 decision over Blees. Since then, the gap has widened between the two. Blees has yet to qualify for the NCAA tournament, while Lavallee finished as runner up. This will be a bonus opportunity for the Tigers.

    Prediction: Lavallee (Missouri) maj. dec. Blees (Virginia Tech)

    165: Connor Flynn (Missouri) vs. No. 5 David McFadden (Virginia Tech)

    Flynn redshirted last season after transferring from West Virginia. He went 24-4 and won three open tournaments. So far this season, he has gone 6-2. He took second place at the Lindenwood Open and registered a win against No 4 (NJCAA) Dayton Racer (Clackamas CC).

    In 2016 McFadden earned ACC "Freshman of the Year" honors and finished sixth at the NCAA Championship. He redshirted last season and went 17-2 with 13 bonus point victories. So far this year, McFadden has gone undefeated and knocked off No. 6 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) at the Journeymen Classic.

    These two wrestled previously during the 2016 season while Flynn was at West Virginia. McFadden won a 9-2 decision in a dual meet. McFadden has looked sharp so far this season with no signs of the lingering effects from his knee injury. He should be able to handle Flynn once again.

    Prediction: McFadden (Virginia Tech) dec. Flynn (Missouri)

    174: No. 4 Daniel Lewis (Missouri) vs. Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech)

    Lewis was a two-time All-American at 165 and this season he has made the move up to 174. The early season results have been tremendous. Lewis has won all eight of his matches, including six falls, and defeated No. 13 Yoanse Mejias (Oklahoma).

    Bolen is a true freshman from Virginia. He has lost all three of time dual meet matches so far this season, but he did managed to go to overtime with Justin Lampe (Chattanooga). At Christiansburg HS, he was a three-time state champion.

    This is a really tough ask for a true freshman. Lewis has look absolutely dominant at the higher weight, and he should be able to notch another fall against Bolen.

    Prediction: Lewis (Missouri) fall over Bolen (Virginia Tech)

    184: Canten Marriott (Missouri) vs. No. 6 Zack Zavatsky (Virginia Tech)

    Marriott is coming off his redshirt season where he went 17-9. He has started all three duals for the Tigers so far. He dropped a decision against No. 12 Emery Parker (Illinois) but scored wins against Missouri Valley and Central Missouri.

    Zavatsky is looking to get over the hump this season and become an All-American. He is a two-time ACC champion, but he has failed to place at the last two NCAA tournaments. So far this season, he has gone 8-2 with a win over No. 13 Bryce Carr (Chattanooga) and a pair of overtime losses against No.4 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh) and Nick Reenan (NC State).

    In his only match against ranked competition so far this season Marriott struggled to score. He will not have very much luck against Zavatsky either. This should be a chance to pick up bonus for Virginia Tech.

    Prediction: Zavatasky (Virginia Tech) maj. dec. Marriott (Missouri)

    197: No. 3 Willie Miklus (Missouri) vs. No. 2 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech)

    This will be an interesting return for Miklus. Last year, he suffered an injury against Virginia Tech and ended up missing the rest of the season. In his previous two seasons, he finished as an All-American twice. For his senior season, he is moving up to 197. Miklus began this season with eight-straight wins, but he lost by major decision against freshman Jacob Warner (Iowa) in the finals of the Lindenwood Open.

    Haught became a two-time All-American last year after finishing fifth at the NCAA tournament. He lost only four matches last season with two of those losses coming against Olympic medalist J'den Cox. To start this season, Haught has won six-straight matches.

    After falling against Warner last weekend, it appears as if Miklus is a little rusty from his injury layoff or dealing with the adjustment to a new weight. At this point Haught has to be the favorite. However, the result could be different around tournament time.

    Prediction: Haught (Virginia Tech) dec. Miklus (Missouri)

    285: Austin Myers (Missouri) vs. Andrew Dunn (Virginia Tech)

    Myers finished third in the MAC and qualified for the NCAA tournament in his first season for Missouri after transferring from West Virginia. So far this season, he is 7-2 including a victory over Marcus Harrington (Iowa State).

    Dunn takes over as the heavyweight start for Tech after redshirting last season. During his redshirt year, he went 16-4 with six falls. So far this season, Dunn has gone 9-2 with both of his losses coming against ranked wrestlers No. 6 Jacob Kasper (Duke) and No. 13 Nathan Butler (Stanford).

    Like most heavyweight matches this should be a close contest. So far this year, Dunn has had the better season and competed against the tougher schedule. He should be the favorite here.

    Prediction: Dunn (Virginia Tech) dec. Myers (Missouri)

    Dual Meet Prediction: Missouri 20, Virginia Tech 16

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