Dec 14, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies fans arrive at Cassell Coliseum before the game against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Entering this season, Virginia Tech wrestling team seemed like a sleeper to be a national title contender led by Devin Carter who nearly won an indvidual national title last season. Early in the season, the Hokies defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes, and proved that they are definitely legitimate contenders for a national title in wrestling.
However, much of this is due to the fact that head coach Kevin Dresser has done a great job of building this program into one that doesn’t just have a few stars like Carter. Dresser has a rising star on his roster in redshirt freshman wrestler Zach Epperly.
The Hokies lost a very close match at the defending national champion Penn State Nittany Lions, but Epperly was one of the Virginia Tech wrestlers that won at his weight class. Epperly defeated the defending national runner-up at the 174 pound weight class, Penn State’s Matt Brown who was also ranked second in the nation at 174 pounds.
Epperly was ranked ninth in the nation at 174 pounds entering this match but the redshirt freshman from Christiansburg, Virginia will likely be taking a decent rise in those rankings. Also, Virginia Tech and the ACC announced that Epperly was named the ACC Wrestler of the Week.
Zach Epperly is the latest star wrestler for the Hokies to come out of nearby Christiansburg High School, joining Devin Carter and Joey Dance who both have had plenty of success. Kevin Dresser was previously the head coach at the wrestling powerhouse Christiansburg High School before taking over for the Hokies in 2006, and that connection has continued to help the Virginia Tech wrestling program.
So far, Epperly is 10-2 on the season which is a very impressive record to end the 2014 part of the season. Epperly has won his dual meet matchups against the aforementioned 2nd ranked Matt Brown, Ohio State’s Mark Martin, and North Dakota State’s Kurtis Julson who all were in the top 14 at the time Epperly faced them.
Epperly is going to be a star wrestler for the Hokies and has the potential to make a deep run in this season’s NCAA Tournament in the spring. Epperly definitely has the potential to win a national championship before his collegiate career is done especially with the success he has had this season as a redshirt freshman.
Congrats to Zach Epperly on being the ACC Wrestler of the Week for what will most likely not be the last time.
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