|Sophomore Bubba Scheffel enters the Big 12 Championships with a team-high 29 wins.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University wrestling team travels to Norman, Okla., for the 2014 Big 12 Championships on Saturday, March 8.
Action from McCasland Field House on the campus of Oklahoma begins at 4 p.m. EST, and can be viewed live on the Big 12 Digital Network on Big12Sports.com. Championship rounds, beginning at 8 p.m. EST, will be broadcast live on the Fox Sports family of networks.
“I feel good that we continued to get better as the year went on,” says coach Craig Turnbull. “We had a few bumps along the road, but there seemed to be a nice steady curve. We have three gold standards going into the Big 12 Championships in Colin Johnston
at 141, Mike Morales at 149 and Bubba Scheffel
at 174. We will know to a certain degree after this weekend who will be going to NCAA's, and we want to see our guys continue to build so their best wrestling comes out at the end of March.”
The Mountaineers (11-7, 0-3 Big 12) enter the tournament with their most wins since 2002, when WVU finished the season with a mark of 12-2.
No. 14 senior Johnston (141) leads the Mountaineers with 43 takedowns this season and 16 dual match victories. Johnston broke into the top 10 in program history for single-season pins and currently ranks No. 6 with nine this season. He has had team-best win streaks of 10 and seven, including a four-match win streak against ranked opponents that was snapped on Feb. 22 against No. 1 Mitchell Port of Edinboro. Johnston was the first wrestler in program history to be named Big 12 Wrestler of the Week, earning the honor on Jan. 20 after defeating No. 12 Anthony Collica of Oklahoma State.
Sophomore Scheffel (174) currently leads West Virginia with 29 victories this season. Scheffel is No. 5 in program history for wins by a sophomore, and with one more will move into a tie for fourth with current Associate Head Coach Greg Jones. Scheffel broke the single-season pin record on Dec. 8, and has extended the mark to 15. He is on an active-long five match win streak, dating back to Feb. 6. Scheffel earned second-place honors at the Navy Classic on Nov. 23 and placed at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 22.
No. 18 junior Morales (149) comes into the championships with a record of 18-5 on the year and is second on the squad with 29 takedowns. Morales is 4-3 against wrestlers in the RPI top 33. He was one of three Mountaineers to be named Big 12 Wrestler of the Week, earning his honor on Feb. 3 after defeating Pitt's No. 17 Mikey Racciato, 11-9. Morales has won six of his last eight matches since the team returned home from the Reno Tournament of Champions.
The Cowboys seek their 46th conference title and will bring five defending Big 12 champions to the tournament. Oklahoma State has won six of its last seven matches, and has posted a mark of 3-1 in conference competition. The Cowboys head into the Big 12 Championship with four wrestlers ranked in the top five in their respective weight classes.
Oklahoma finished 11-5 overall with a 2-1 record in Big 12 dual competition after starting the season 7-0. The Sooners feature six returning All-Americans, including redshirt senior Andrew Howe, who is ranked No. 1 at 174 pounds and concluded the regular season with a perfect 23-0 record. In addition to Howe, Oklahoma has four wrestlers ranked nationally in the top 10.
Iowa State finished the season 9-7 overall and 1-2 in Big 12 matches. The Cyclones had seven finalists at the Big 12 Championships a year ago, claiming a second-place team finish. Kyven Gadson leads Iowa State, coming in ranked No. 1 in the country at 197 pounds, and has posted back-to-back unbeaten dual-match seasons. Helping Gadson is All-American Michael Moreno at 165 pounds, who leads the Cyclones with 25 wins this season.