MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – After five West Virginia University grapplers received automatic bids to the NCAA Championships at this past weekend’s Eastern Wrestling League Championships, the Mountaineers had a sixth wrestler receive a bid after junior Lance Bryson was selected as an at-large participant for the national tournament being held in St. Louis, Mo., from March 15-17.
Also qualifying with Bryson (174) were junior Shane Young (125), redshirt sophomore Nathan Pennesi (133), sophomore Michael Morales (141) and redshirt seniors Matt Ryan (184) and Brandon Williamson (HWT).
For Young, it will be the third time that he has qualified for the NCAA Championships. In his previous two trips to the national tournament Young has yet to score a victory, but he has taken highly-ranked opponents down to the wire on each occasion. Young qualified after he posted a second-place finish at EWLs. The Jeanette, Pa., native has compiled a 23-6 mark so far this season.
Ryan and Williamson will each be making their second trips to the NCAA Championships. Both qualified for the national tournament after they won their respective weight class’s crown at the EWL Championships.
Ryan advanced to the third round of wrestlebacks in last year’s tournament, which was the furthest of any WVU wrestlers, and owns a 2-2 career record at the NCAAs. The Eighty-Four, Pa., native has a 19-4 record this season.
Due to the fact that a knee injury caused him to redshirt last season, Williamson’s last trip to the NCAA Championships came in 2010. While there, the Greenwich, Conn., native compiled a 2-2 record and fell one win short of All-American status. Williamson has tallied 26 wins heading into the national tournament.
Also making his second trip will be Pennesi. In last year's tournament, Pennesi lost two close matches to opponents from Oklahoma and Central Michigan. Pennesi leads the Mountaineers with 29 victories this season.
For Morales and Bryson, it will be their first trips to the NCAA Championships.
Morales clinched his berth to the NCAA Championships after he was victorious in his weight class at the EWL Championships. Morales carries an 18-2 record into the national tournament along with eight pins this season.