By Brian Kuppelweiser for WVUsports.com
June 14, 2012 10:00 AM
The 1988-89 West Virginia wrestling team finished the dual meet season with a 7-7 overall record and had a 1-6 mark in the Eastern Wrestling League.
Coming off of four-straight seasons with a final ranking in the top 20 and ten-plus wins, some could have looked at the 1988-89 season as a disappointment, but not coach Craig Turnbull. He saw something special being built for the 1989-90 season, and that, is exactly what happened.
Due to crafty recruiting and timely redshirting, the upcoming season’s high expectations were built by a young group of wrestlers that Turnbull would refer to as “talented and hungry.”
In total, Turnbull redshirted six wrestlers during the 1988-89 season, including future 142-pound class national champion Scott Collins. In addition, the Mountaineers would get the boost of Mark Banks to the lineup – a talented wrestler transferring from Bloomsburg who had qualified for the NCAA Championships twice and would be eligible for the second semester.
With the table set for a successful season, the Mountaineers stormed out of the gates with seven-consecutive dual meet wins to begin the season, which still stands as a team record.
In the team’s eighth dual meet of the season, WVU took on top-ranked Arizona State, which was coming off of a runner-up performance at the NCAA Championships in which four wrestlers gained All-American status and one captured a national title.
The neutral-site match, which took place at the Wheeling Civic Center, saw the Mountaineers fall to the No. 1-ranked Sun Devils, 25-17, but for the young WVU squad, the loss was a building block of sorts.
The Mountaineers would reel off six-straight wins, including wins against EWL foes Bloomsburg, Penn State and Cleveland State.
With their record sitting at 13-1, WVU was tied for the program-high season win total heading into its final match of the season on March 1, 1990.
Just as they had done all season, the Mountaineers rose to the occasion by handling the Fighting Scots in dominant fashion with a 24-10 victory and setting the program high in wins in the process.
The win also allowed WVU to capture its first Eastern Wrestling League dual meet championship in program history. Furthermore, the Mountaineers finished the 1989-90 season sixth in the final dual meet rankings and was named as the Eastern Mat’s No. 1 team in the east.