Redshirt freshman Mekhi Lewis capped off his magical run at the 2019 NCAA Championships at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday night with a 7-1 decision over two-time defending national champion Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State to win the 165-pound national championship.
The win marked the first individual national championship in the history of the Virginia Tech wrestling program. With wins over, the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 seeds in the tournament, Lewis was also named the championships’ Most Outstanding Wrestler. He’s the first wrestler not from Ohio State or Penn State to win Most Outstanding Wrestler since Cornell’s Kyle Dake won the award in 2013.
He’s the fourth ACC wrestler and the first since NC State’s Darrion Caldwell in 2009 to be named OW. Lewis’ title is the 18th individual NCAA title in the history of Tech athletics.
Lewis created separation in the second period with a cradle that took Joseph to his back, giving him four near fall points and a 4-0 lead. After an escape that made it 4-1, his leg defense that was on display the entire tournament fended off multiple leg attacks from Joseph. Lewis chose bottom and escaped to start the third that made it 5-1 before adding another takedown with 23 seconds left to clinch the title.
Lewis was not taken down the entire tournament. His year included an ACC title, a Junior World Championship in freestyle and now a national championship.
Tech finished just outside the top 10 as they placed 11th with 50 team points, only one point behind 10th place Nebraska. The Hokies produced three All-Americans – Lewis, David McFadden (174) and Zack Zavatsky (184) – for the seventh-consecutive season. A streak shared with Penn State, Oklahoma State, Cornell and Iowa.
No. 8 Mekhi Lewis (First Place, 5-0)
R32: Lewis WBF No. 25 Cam Coy (Virginia), 6:49
R16: Lewis dec. No. 24 Cael McCormick (Army), 4-1
QF: Lewis dec. No. 1 Alex Marinelli (Iowa), 3-1
SF: Lewis dec. No. 4 Evan Wick (Wisconsin), 5-2
Finals: Lewis dec. No. 2 Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State), 7-1