Oklahoma City, Okla. – Five West Virginia University wrestlers will open the 2014 NCAA DI Wrestling Championships March 20, at noon EST, at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Action from Oklahoma City will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. Thursday's first and second sessions, which have never before been televised, will be on ESPNU. The semifinals and finals (sessions five and six) on Saturday will be on ESPN. All sessions, including individual mat feeds, can be viewed on ESPN3.
“You have 33 of the best wrestlers in the country at each weight class. We are telling the guys that you have to be ready to wrestle, and not pay attention to anything else,” says coach Craig Turnbull. “It is really easy to pick out the top five or six guys for seeding, but after that, you just have a stack of names that you are trying to figure out. Our guys are looking at the match that is in front of them and will get their best match out like they have all year so they can move through the tournament.”
Freshman Cory Stainbrook
(125) matches up against Rider's Robert Deutsch, who comes in as the No. 11 seed. Stainbrook is tied for No. 8 in program history for wins by a freshman, tallying 24. With one more win, he will break into the program's top five for wins in a single season by a 125-pounder. Stainbrook has placed at three tournaments, including taking third place honors at the Big 12 Championships on March 8 to earn an automatic bid to this week's championships.
In the 141-pound bracket, senior Colin Johnston
makes his first appearance at the NCAA Championships. Johnston will wrestle North Carolina's No. 9-seeded Evan Henderson. Johnston's 27 wins this season makes him the fifth winningest 141-pounder in WVU history, and his nine pins moves him into eighth all-time. Johnston has had winning streaks of 10 and seven this year, including a 4-0 stretch over ranked opponents where he moved to No. 14 in Intermat's poll and was named the Big 12 Wrestler of the Week on Jan. 20. His streak over ranked opponents was snapped by No. 1 Mitchell Port of Edinboro on Feb. 22, where Johnston lost 5-3. He has placed in two tournaments. He entered the Big 12 Championships as the No. 1 seed.
Junior Mike Morales (149) is making his second trip to the NCAA Championships and is the lone Mountaineer in this year's group to have made multiple appearances at the tournament. He will take on the No. 13-seeded Brody Grothus of Iowa in the first round. Morales comes into this weekend ranked No. 20 by Intermat and has a 4-4 record against the RPI's top 33 wrestlers. He was the second WVU wrestler to be named Big 12 Wrestler of the Week, earning the honor on Feb. 3 after defeating then-No. 17 Mikey Racciato of Pitt, 11-9. Morales earned an automatic bid after placing third at the Big 12 Championships on March 8.
At 174 pounds, sophomore Bubba Scheffel
opens the tournament against Robert Kokesh of Nebraska, who comes in as the No. 3 seed. Scheffel's 29 wins ranks him No. 5 in program history for wins by a sophomore, and his 15 wins by fall is the highest mark by any Mountaineer. Scheffel's best finish came at the Navy Classic on Nov. 23, where he finished second, falling to then-No. 17 Turtogtokh Luvsandorj of the Citadel.
After wrestling his freshman season at 197 pounds, sophomore A.J. Vizcarrondo
has transitioned into WVU's starting heavyweight. Vizcarrondo took second at the Big 12 Championships on March 8 to earn his first bid to the NCAA Championships. He was named the Big 12 Wrestler of the Week on Feb. 10 after defeating then-No. 17 Ross Larson of Oklahoma, 9-7. Vizcarrondo finished fourth at the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 22.
A complete schedule of events is below:
Session I: Thursday, March 20 at Noon
Session II: Thursday, March 20 at 7 p.m.
Session III: Friday, March 21 at 11 a.m.
Session IV: Friday, March 21 at 8 p.m.
Session V: Saturday, March 22 at 11 a.m.
Session VI: Saturday, March 22 at 8 p.m.
*All times are EST