WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. - The level of competition continues to rise.
So says West Liberty mat coach Brian Davis who will be taking six wrestlers to this weekend's NCAA Division II National Wrestling Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"Being able to see your kids work hard all season and finally get to his level is very rewarding," the first year coach said. "However, now that we're here we cannot slack off. The competition only gets better. We have a handful of guys that are ranked and capable of placing, but at the same time these rankings don't mean a lot. The better kid that shows up this weekend is going to place."
The Hilltoppers' delegation ranges from a true freshman to a red shirt senior.
"When you at this level your grade level doesn't matter," Davis indicated. "The guys who have peaked at the right time are the ones we have wrestling this weekend."
Leading the West Liberty delegation is returning national place winner Doug Surra. The Kersey, Pa. native is in his second season with the Hilltoppers mat program after posting 20 wins in his freshman year at Clarion.
"He has more experience than anyone we have on the team wrestling at Clarion for a year and placing at nationals last year," Davis said about his 141-pounder. Surra will enter the two-day grind ranked sixth in the country and with a 28-4 ledger, but Davis assures that his ranking has minimal meaning once Surra steps out onto the mat. "The kids in his weight class are the best of the best. On any given day any of those ranked guys could win his weight class," Davis said. "But our goal and his is to win it."
West Liberty wrestlers that are to represent the college at the NCAA Division II National Wrestling Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from left, are Lucas Huffman (125), Matt Mossor (133), Doug Surra (141), Kayne Melko (149), Chris Gibbs (174) and Mitch Knapp (197). The Hilltoppers are coached by Brian Davis.
Photo by BRIAN COOK