Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 15 No. 3 | December 2022 17 @PrestonsRestaurant @InnVirginiaTech 540.231.0120 | 901 Prices Fork Rd, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (inside The Inn at Virginia Tech) Reservations recommended. A delicious game-day tradition. BEFORE THE GAME OR AFTER, Preston’s Restaurant is a delicious place for a new game-day tradition. Start with our fresh breakfast. Order lunch or dinner from our mouth-watering menu of seasonal cuisine. Sip on hand-cra ed cocktails or a selection from our award-winning wine list. And don’t forget the Valley’s best brunch, every Sunday at Preston’s. Make Preston’s Restaurant your game-day tradition. “It’s just being able to be around the younger guys and let them see the rituals and the stories and the traditions that we do and keep them around it. Hopefully they’ll pass it down to the next generation. I’m trying to be a leader by example and just keep the ball rolling because when I’m done here and I’m an alumni, I want to see Virginia Tech wrestling keep it going and keep the standards we had while I’m here.” If the Hokies are able to uphold the current standards with its current and future freshmen classes, the program could be pushed to new heights. True freshmen Tom Crook and Caleb Henson have already cracked the starting lineup this year, with a top-five 2023 recruiting class coming in right behind them. The program’s rise has played a part in the Hokies’ ability to land commitments from some of the best high school wrestlers in the nation. However, it all comes back to the people and relationships built within the program in the end. “It was really the relationship I built with a lot of the coaches here,” Henson said about his decision to commit to Virginia Tech. “It was just a great bonding the way they approached the recruiting process and how it felt with them and especially once I got to see them in person and meet the team. “It felt like home.” Robie and his staff have put an emphasis on building strong connections with recruits during the recruiting process, which has helped Virginia Tech stand out among some of the other top wrestling programs in the country. Those strong bonds don’t end once recruits get on campus, however. The Hokies’ staff takes a holistic approach to developing guys as wrestlers and as people, on and off the mat. “It starts with just having the kind of relationships with the guys that you know what’s going on in other areas of their life than just the sport of wrestling,” Robie said. “We’re fortunate to a certain degree that we don’t have a roster like football where you have 100 some guys on your roster, it’s a little bit harder to manage something like that. For us with 30 guys on our roster, it makes it easier for us to understand these guys and to know them, to have the kind of relationships with them where they’re comfortable coming to you and talking to you about other areas of their life. “It’s a lot of work, for sure, but at the end of the day, I think that kind of approach gets guys to buy in, when they know that you care about them. It gets them to do the things that sometimes maybe they don’t want to do but are required for them to be a part of what we’re trying to build and trying to be a part of. The relationship part of it is huge and they say this is a people business and we’ve got great people in our organization.” Elevated by this comprehensive method of developing studentathletes, Virginia Tech has competed with other elite wrestling programs in the NCAA tournament in recent years. Tech has finished No. 14 or better in the tournament in every year of Robie’s tenure. The Hokies still haven’t finished first, though, and they’re on a mission to bring a national championship back to Blacksburg. “That chip on the shoulder that we have right now, we’re coming for heads,” Henson said. “[We’re] head hunting this season, next season [and beyond]. We’ve got a group of guys that want to make a name for themselves that feel disrespected in a way and we want to be respected as one of the top programs in the nation. I think that’s where our trajectory is going.”