Wrestling to Battle No. 10 Sooners, Wildcats

  • By Jonathan Hevron
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  • February 05, 2014 03:09 PM
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Senior Nathan Pennesi (133) leads all active Mountaineers with 89 career victories and is a three-time national qualifier. Senior night will be held on Friday, Feb. 7, against Davidson.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (February 5, 2014) – The West Virginia University wrestling team welcomes No. 10 Oklahoma and Davidson to the WVU Coliseum on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m., respectively.
Friday’s match against Davidson will be senior night, and Nathan Pennesi (133), Colin Johnston (141) and Mac Mancuso (184) will be honored.
“Oklahoma and Davidson both come in to the WVU Coliseum for the first time,” says coach Craig Turnbull. “This stretch of matches that we have had, especially for Bubba (Scheffel), has been tough. Scheffel may be the first wrestler I have had that has wrestled two national champions in the same season, and he will go up against six of the top 10 by the time the season is done. Scheffel and the team’s attitude is in the right place, though, and they are excited for the opportunity.”
West Virginia (9-4, 0-2 Big 12) comes off a loss to then-No. 7 Pitt in the Backyard Brawl on Feb. 1. Johnston extended his win streak over ranked opponents to three, defeating No. 16 Edgar Bright. Johnston is currently ranked No. 14 by the Amateur Wrestling Newsmagazine and is 23-5 on the season. Junior Mike Morales (149) etched out his first victory over a ranked opponent of the season, taking No. 17 Mikey Racciato down in extra time to earn an 11-9 decision. Morales was named the Big 12 Wrestler of the Week following the performance.
Johnston enters this week’s contests 12-1 in dual matches, boasting a team-high 28 takedowns. He is one pin shy of breaking into the program’s top-10 list for single-season wins by fall.
Scheffel (174) leads the Mountaineers with 24 victories this season and a program-record 14 pins. Six of Scheffel’s seven losses have come to ranked opponents, including No. 2 Chris Perry of Oklahoma State on Jan. 18 and No. 7 Tyler Wilps on Feb. 1. His matchup on Thursday against No. 1 Andrew Howe of Oklahoma will mark the second defending national champion Scheffel, a sophomore, has wrestled in 19 days.
Pennesi is the active career win leader, tallying 89 victories as a Mountaineer. He is a three-time national qualifier, notching his first career victory at the NCAA Championships last season over Army’s Connor Hanafee. Pennesi led West Virginia in season wins as a sophomore and junior and earned a rank as high as No. 12 in his freshman and junior seasons.
As a senior, Pennesi has recorded 14 victories and is 6-4 in dual matches. He is second on the team with four major decisions and one technical fall. Pennesi placed fourth at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 22, marking the fourth time in his career he placed at the prestigious event. In November, he took second at the Navy Classic, falling to then-No. 2 Tyler Graff of Wisconsin.
After not competing last season, Mancuso has won 18 matches this season and shows a 13-3 record in tournaments. He won the Mercyhurst Laker Open in November, and later that month finished sixth at the Navy Classic. Mancuso placed at the Navy Classic all three years he competed.
The Sooners come into Thursday 8-2 this year and 2-0 in the Big 12. Oklahoma lost to then-No. 9 Northern Iowa and then-No. 10 Missouri. The Sooners have dropped two of their last three matches. Seven of the 10 Oklahoma starters are ranked by AWN, including two defending national champions in No. 2 Kendric Maple (149) and Howe (174).
The Wildcats enter Friday 4-11 on the season and 0-4 in the Southern Conference. Davidson suffered losses to Clarion, Gardner-Webb and Pitt, while beating Anderson, 42-6. Donald Patrick (184) leads the Wildcats with a record of 17-3. Patrick has eight pins, five major decisions and a technical fall this year.
West Virginia is 1-3 all-time against Oklahoma, with its lone victory coming in 1986. In last year’s contest, the Sooners downed the Mountaineers 25-14 in Norman, Okla. West Virginia won the only matchup against Davidson, 27-3, in 1961.

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