MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The West Virginia University wrestling team will open its Eastern Wrestling League schedule this weekend, as it hosts Bloomsburg on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and No. 21 Clarion on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“Both Bloomsburg and Clarion have tremendous tradition and expectations within their programs,” says coach Craig Turnbull. “This is their big sport program, similar to football at other schools. This is their only Division I program, and this is what they put their money into. Going back into the 1970’s both Bloomsburg and Clarion were producing national champions, and they wrestle out of what is arguably the best wrestling state in the country. Each of these teams always come in with teams that wrestle hard and are excited to wrestle against us.”
The Huskies enter Saturday’s match against the Mountaineers (3-2, 0-0 EWL) with a 12-4 overall record and are coming off a 30-3 loss at the hands of Pittsburgh in their EWL opener.
“We will get Bloomsburg’s best effort after that loss,” Turnbull says. “They are well coached, and they always battle very hard. After a tough loss like that, they were most likely pretty challenged in their week of practice.”
Bloomsburg is led by five wrestlers that have already accumulated 19 wins or more this season, including 157-pounder Frank Hickman. The Castle Hayne, N.C., native is ranked as high as No. 11 in the nation.
“We, just like any other team, are at our best when our energy and our focus is at its highest point,” Turnbull says. “Every time our guys have a chance to wrestle, they have to prepare exactly the same way emotionally and have the same respect for their opponent whether he is the No. 1 guy in the country or if he has a losing record.”
The Mountaineers will also receive a stiff challenge from the Golden Eagles, as they come to Morgantown ranked as high as No. 21 in the nation. Clarion also boasts two wrestlers that are in the top ten of their individual weight classes in No. 8 James Fleming (157) and No. 6 Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (165).
“Both teams have some strong individuals, so it will again come down to how we match up against them,” Turnbull says. “If they beat a few of our individuals that are used to coming out on top, then that will begin to put some stress upon us in our attempt to win.”
Turnbull is hoping his team will perform on Saturday and Sunday much like it did in its 23-12 victory over Michigan State last Friday, when they won the matches they should have and were able to keep the Spartans from gaining bonus points in their match victories.
“With the uniqueness of wrestling, you have 10 contests within one contest,” Turnbull says. “Our guys were able to manage that last Friday, but were not able to do that against Maryland the week before, and that is why you saw the difference in results.”
Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for youth/senior citizens and WVU students are admitted free with valid ID. Fans arriving early will be given the opportunity to sit mat side for the event.
For Saturday's and Sunday's match, a free WVU student shuttle bus service will be available from the Mountainlair & the Brooke/Braxton Towers loop for an hour leading up to the match's start time. Return service to the Mountainlair & the Brooke/Braxton Towers will also be available at the conclusion of the match.
Fans can follow the action live on TrackWrestling.com, and a full recap of the action will be available on MSNsportsNET.com after the completion of the match. Probable LineupsWVU
125: Shane Young (15-3)
133: Nathan Pennesi (19-5)
141: Michael Morales (2-0)
149: Brutus Scheffel (15-9)
157: Dominic Prezzia (13-9)
165: Kyle Eason (13-9)
174: Lance Bryson (17-8)
184: Matt Ryan (9-3)
197: Mac Mancuso (14-6) OR Nicholas Hylton (0-1)
HWT: Brandon Williamson (15-6) Bloomsburg
125: Sean Boylan (12-14)
133: Nick Wilcox (19-12)
141: Derek Shingara (17-10)
149: No. 32 Bryce Busler (19-6)
157: No. 11 Frank Hickman (21-3)
165: Chris Smith (14-13) OR Kevin Hartnett (16-10)
174: Mike Dessino (20-8)
184: Sam Shirey (17-12)
197: No. 31 Richard Perry (23-8)
HWT: Zach Walsh (18-9) Clarion
125: Trey Hicks (5-12)
133: Joe Waltko (11-10)
141: Tyler Bedelyon (11-11) OR Devin Cook (5-6)
149: Cameron Moran (9-11)
157: No. 8 James Fleming (16-2)
165: No. 6 Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (20-4)
174: Ryan Darch (8-11) OR Nick Milano (5-9)
184: Steven Cressley (11-8)
197: No. 28 Alex Thomas (17-11)
HWT: No. 26 Quintas McCorkle (17-9)