MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – In its final home match of the season, the West Virginia University wrestling team will welcome Eastern Wrestling League rival, No. 9 Pitt, to the Coliseum on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.
The ninth-ranked Panthers enter the dual meet against the Mountaineers (6-3, 2-1 EWL) on a 16-match winning streak in the EWL and with an 11-1 overall record.
“They have a very nice team, and they have had a very good year,” says coach Craig Turnbull. “At this time of the year, the national rankings are a little bit more significant, and it is no doubt impressive what they have done.”
Pitt not only has displayed dominance in the EWL, but they have also fared well on the national level this season, as it has wins over Lehigh and Michigan, who were both ranked No. 6 at the time of the dual meet.
“To me, this presents as a great opportunity,” Turnbull says. “We could go anywhere from winning one or two matches to winning six or seven matches. It is going to take a very good performance from us to get the victory.”
One of the biggest keys heading into the match is the lightweight classes. Junior Shane Young (125), redshirt sophomore Nathan Pennesi (133) and sophomore Michael Morales (141) have combined for a total of 45 wins this season. In addition, the trio has combined to win two of the match’s first three bouts in five out of the last six dual meets.
“A strong start will be critical because those matches are swing matches against tough opponents,” Turnbull says. “We will know a lot about the match as a whole after the first three matches. If we win two or three, we will be in a great position.”
The Panthers’ starters at 125 and 133 pounds are each ranked within the top 20, including No. 16 Anthony Zanetta.
Zanetta will go toe to toe against Young in a matchup that dates back to elementary school, continued in club wrestling and now has found its way to the college ranks. In their four college matches, Zanetta has walked away victorious in each of them.
“Shane was the more prominent recruit out of high school, but Anthony has won out in college,” Turnbull says. “All of the matches have been back and forth, and they are always very competitive.”
Turnbull will also be looking to receive a boost from his middleweights, who helped propel the Mountaineers to a 21-18 victory over Rutgers on Sunday afternoon.
“If we can get a consistent and good performance from them, then we can take a very significant win,” Turnbull says. “Every week our mantra is to perform with a high amount of energy and focus on the match in front of us, and that is something we preached to the guys this week.”
Saturday night’s match is a designated “Dollar Night” with all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas available for purchase for just one dollar. The match will also be “Senior Night” for WVU grapplers Zac Cerrone, Kyle Eason, Matt Ryan and Brandon Williamson.
Fans arriving early are encouraged to take advantage of the available mat side seating.
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.
A live stream of the match as well as a full recap of action can be found on MSNsportsNET.com. Live results can also be found on TrackWrestling.com.Projected Starters:
125: No. 26 Shane Young (18-4) vs. No. 16 Anthony Zanetta (23-2)
133: No. 24 Nathan Pennesi (23-5) vs. No. 20 Shelton Mack (15-6)
141: No. 32 Michael Morales (4-2) vs. Travis Shaffer (16-10)
149: Brutus Scheffel (17-11) vs. No. 13 Tyler Nauman (21-4)
157: Dominic Prezzia (14-12) vs. Donnie Tasser (9-9)
165: Kyle Eason (13-13) vs. No. 33 Tyler Wilps (13-9)
174: No. 20 Lance Bryson (19-10) vs. No. 26 Ethan Headlee (9-6) OR P.J. Tasser (9-7)
184: No. 17 Matt Ryan (13-3) vs. No. 32 Andy Vaughan (16-5)
197: Mac Mancuso (14-6) OR Nicholas Hylton (0-4) vs. #4 Matt Wilps (24-2)
HWT: No. 18 Brandon Williamson (19-6) vs. Joel Yahner (6-17)