NORMAN, Okla. – The West Virginia University wrestling team had four Mountaineers punch tickets to the 2014 NCAA Championships after earning automatic bids at the Big 12 Conference Championships. The Mountaineers finished in fourth, with a team score of 26.
|Sophomore A.J. Vizcarrondo (HWT) finished in second place at the 2014 Big 12 Wrestling Championships. With the finish, Vizcarrondo has earned an automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla.
“The primary goal of today was to get as many people to the national tournament as we could,” says coach Craig Turnbull. “It appears that we will get five, maybe six through. We will find out when the selection committee meets next week. The gold standards are likely to go, but it was a great performance tonight from Stainbrook and Vizcarrondo, wrestling themselves to the national tournament. The real bubble person is Pennesi.”
Vizcarrondo (HWT) punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships with a second-place finish. After recording a pin over Iowa State's Quean Smith in the first 12 seconds of the opening round, Vizcarrondo, the lone Mountaineer to reach the finals, matched up against the tournament's top seed, Austin Marsden of Oklahoma State. After a scoreless first period, Vizcarrondo gave up an escape in the second from the top position and then was taken to the mat as the period ended. Entering the final two minutes, Vizcarrondo escaped to cut the deficit to 3-1. Marsden wrestled Vizcarrondo down for a third time with less than a minute to go on his way to earning the 5-2 decision.
Needing to win one match to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, Stainbrook's (125) ticket got punched with a 5-4 decision over Iowa State's Earl Hall in the third-place bout. Stainbrook fell behind early, being taken to the mat in the first period, but wasted no time in escaping. He started the second on top and rode Hall out for the length of period. Stainbrook reversed Hall to take the lead 3-2. Knotted at 4 in the third, 1:28 advantage on the clock gave Stainbrook the 5-4 decision and third place honors.
In the opening round, freshman Stainbrook matched up against the top-seeded Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma. Stainbrook was taken down to start, but quickly reversed Patterson to knot the bout. Patterson regained the lead midway through the first period with a reversal of his own. Trailing 6-2 in to start the third, Stainbrook cut into the deficit with his second reversal of the match, but third takedown would seal the bout for Patterson, 9-4.
Morales (149) was the third West Virginia grappler to punch his ticket to Oklahoma City, knocking off the Cyclones' Luke Goettl for third place, 9-6. Morales jumped ahead with a takedown in the first minute. With a 6-0 lead in the second period, Goettl recorded an escape and a takedown to cut into Morales' lead. Morales started in the down position to start the third and extended the margin with a reversal. Morales held on for the 9-6 decision to earn third place in the tournament.
Morales opened the bracket against the No. 1 seed Kendric Maple of Oklahoma. Morales was taken to the mat late the first period, but only gave up five seconds of riding time before escaping. Trailing 2-1 to start the second, Morales covered Maple, but would surrender an escape and takedown. With riding time advantage, Maple secured the 8-3 decision.
At 174 pounds, sophomore Bubba Scheffel
, coming in as the fourth seed, earned his first-career bid to the NCAA Championships, with the Big 12 being awarded four automatic qualifiers. Scheffel led all wrestlers in the conference coming into the weekend with 29 victories this season, 15 coming by fall.
In the third-place match at 133 pounds, Pennesi squared off with the Cyclones' Shayden Terukina. Pennesi would be taken down in the first, but cut into the deficit with an escape. At the start of the second period, Pennesi knotted the bout at two with an escape. Terukina retook the lead with a takedown on the edge of the mat to close the period. Pennesi turned Terukina to his back after starting on top and stuck him late in the third to claim third place.
Pennesi opened the tournament against Cody Brewer of Oklahoma, the No. 2 seed. Pennesi was taken to the mat twice in the opening period, and a third time in the second. A series of three-point nearfalls secured the match for Brewer, 16-1.
At 157 pounds, Wheeling met with John Nicholson of Iowa State in the third-place bout. Wheeling tallied a first period takedown to jump out 2-0 over Nicholson. A second takedown to end the first extended his lead to 4-1. Nicholson knotted the bout at four with an escape and takedown in the second. Wheeling broke the tie with an escape as the period came to a close and a second to start the third to hold on for a 6-4 decision and third place honors.
At 184 pounds, Mancuso finished the bracket in third, defeating Danny Chaid of Oklahoma, 8-2. Mancuso struck first with a takedown late in the first period, and extended his lead to 5-0 with another takedown in the second. A pair of escapes in the third for Chaid would not be enough as Mancuso held on for third place, 8-2.
Mancuso entered the bracket as the No. 4 seed, taking on the top-seeded Nolan Boyd of Oklahoma State. Mancuso fell behind in the first period, giving up a takedown two minutes into the opening period. Mancuso started the second in the down position, escaped to bring the bout to one, but Boyd then took him down for a second time to extend the deficit. An escape and a third period takedown would give the Boyd the 8-2 decision.
Senior Colin Johnston
(141) entered the tournament as the No.1 seed, but dropped both matches today. Johnston entered the Big 12 Championships with a gold star rating, and will have to be awarded an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.
“We would have liked a stronger performance out of Colin tonight. It was as poor as he has wrestled all year,” Turnbull says. “He had a kind of deer in headlights look being the No. 1 seed, but we got rid of that feeling and will be ready to get back to work for the national tournament.”
Oklahoma State won team crown, accumulating 98.5 points. Oklahoma took second with 63.5 and Iowa State rounded out the top three with 45.5 points.
A total of 330 wrestlers, 33 per weight class, will advance to the 2014 NCAA Championships. Of those 330 spots, 290 of them will be determined via automatic qualification. The remaining 40 spots will be selected at-large by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee, next week.
The 2014 NCAA Championships are March 20-22 in Oklahoma City, Okla., at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Tickets for the championships can be found at NCAA.com.