CLARION, Pa. – With the dual meet tied at 15 heading into the heavyweight contest, the West Virginia University wrestling team was propelled to an 18-15 victory over Clarion by Phil Mandzik.
“Everyone needed that victory,” said coach Craig Turnbull. “It would have been nice to get a victory at home, but this one felt pretty good. The guys responded this afternoon. There are a lot of different ways to win the match, and we figured out one of them.”
Mandzik earned his team the victory by defeating his opponent, 5-1. Mandzik scored a takedown in the first, secured the riding time point and notched a takedown in waning seconds of the third to collect the victory.
“I haven’t been winning as much as I would like to this season, so getting that win was very nice,” Mandzik said. “It is a win that will boost team morale, and I think it will make the coaches happy. We have been struggling lately, and we really needed this one.”
Just as he did the previous evening, senior Shane Young (125) gave the Mountaineers an early lead, as he earned a 3-2 decision win over the Golden Eagles’ Tyler Fraley. After a scoreless first period, Fraley earned an escape point in the second, while Young earned an escape in the third period. Young’s escape came in the nick of time, as Fraley had accumulated 51 seconds of riding time. Young converted on a takedown attempt with less than 45 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Colin Johnston (133) followed the lead set by Young, as he earned his sixth win of the season against Clarion’s Joe Waltko. After a scoreless initial period, Johnston chose bottom and got the escape point to begin the second. Then, Johnston hit on a fireman’s carry to extended his lead to 3-0. It would be all that Johnston needed in the win.
“Our two wins at 125 and 133 were critical as well,” Turnbull said. “Those wins gave us an early advantage that allowed us to manage the match.”
The Golden Eagles (5-10) slowed the WVU momentum down at 141 pounds, as they got a win from Sam Sherlock. Sherlock defeated Sean Fee, 6-2.
Clarion quickly followed its win at 141 pounds with a win by fall at 149 pounds. Tyler Bedelyon worked the Mountaineers’ Tre Miller-Scott into a cradle near the end of the first period to earn the fall at the 2:53 mark of the match.
Trailing 9-6 heading into the midpoint of the match, WVU’s Roman Perryman was faced with the tough task of stepping into the lineup against No. 4 James Fleming. Perryman hung tough, as it was as close as 4-1 late in the third period, but Fleming was a 7-1 victor in the match. The win extended the Golden Eagles lead to 12-6.
“Clarion expected to get bonus points at this match,” Turnbull said. “Roman is one our better wrestlers from the bottom, and he was able to manage the match well. He frustrated his opponent, and that was critical in us getting the team victory.”
After the 12-point run by Clarion, Ross Renzi (165) was able to turn the tides in favor of the Mountaineers. Renzi collected his seventh win of the season – his first since Nov. 30 – to close the gap to 12-9. Renzi closed the first period with a 4-2 lead and the second period with a 7-3 lead on his way to an 8-4 win over Nick Milano.
WVU evened the match at 12 with three matches remaining, as Bubba Scheffel earned his 10th win of the season and second of the weekend. Scheffel cruised to a 5-3 win over Ryan Darch, in which he led 3-0 at the mid-point of the second period and 5-1 late in the third period.
Following Scheffel’s win that knotted the match, Lance Bryson (184) gave the Mountaineers a 15-12 lead, with a 3-0 decision victory over Steven Cressley. Bryson converted a shot in the first period and accumulated nearly five minutes of riding time on the way to the win.
Looking to extend its lead, WVU turned to Mark Colabucci (197) for the second consecutive evening. However, Clarion’s Justin Ortega defeated Colabucci to tie the match at 15 heading to the dual meet’s final match.
“Each team knew going into heavyweight what was going to happen, and neither wanted to take it there,” Turnbull said. “Mark did a great job of working hard in the third period to take the wind out of their sails.”
WVU (2-10, 0-3 Big 12) is idle next weekend and will return to action on March 8, as it travels to Stillwater, Okla., for the Big 12 Duals.