The Cavaliers feature six wrestlers with more than 10 wins in their starting lineup. Jimi Massey (184) leads the team in victories with 16 and has three runner-up finishes in tournaments this season. Paul Dunstan (149), a freshman from Oberlin, Ohio, is 12-10 on the year and won his weight class last week at the VISWC. Josh Etu (HWT), who also won his class at the VISWC, is 13-4, 3-0 in dual competition. Tim Foley (157) is 12-7 on the year and is undefeated in dual competition with a 4-0 record.
Last Time Out -- The Mountaineers swept a double dual by defeating Bloomsburg 36-7 in an Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) contest and No.22 Nebraska (8-5) 30-21 last Sunday at the Coliseum.
In WVU's first match of the day against Bloomsburg, WVU fell behind early as Mark Piermattei upset No. 17 Brandon Lauer, 10-8. The Mountaineers rebounded by scoring a season-high 26 consecutive points. Seventeenth-ranked Shane Cunanan, and No.4 Greg Jones recorded pins at 141 and 174, while No.6 Joe Carr and No.7 Tom McMath recorded major decisions at 157 and 165. Billy Smith won by forfeit at 149.
Brent Miller scored a 12-4 major decision over Andy Ludlow, Ryan Kehler pinned Tony Milone in :34 and Nathan Kendjorsky won a 10-8 decision at 125 to pace the Mountaineers. The 36 team points were a season high.
WVU's second match was marked by dramatic shifts in momentum. After Lauer was forced to forfeit due to injury giving Nebraska a 6-0 lead, Cunanan responded by pinning Scott Burnettin 2:46 to tie the score at 6-6. Smith's 9-5 decision over Adam Kastle gave the Mountaineers a 9-6 edge.
Bryan Snyder, the nation's top wrestler at 157, tried to turn things around for the Cornhuskers by pinning Carr at the 5:32 mark, but WVU seized back the momentum with a pin by McMath and a technical fall by Jones, running the score to 20-12. After Wilman dropped a narrow 11-10 decision, Miller got the Mountaineers back on track by earning a 12-3 major decision over Jason Zakarus to give WVU a 24-15 lead.
Kehler shut the door on Nebraska by recording his second pin of the day as he turned Pat Miron on his back in only :25. Kehler's two pins give him 22 for his career, which ties him for second on WVU's all-time list.
"I think this is a great day for us to be able to get two good wins," head coach Craig Turnbull said. "The match against Nebraska was exciting because each team kept trading knockdown punches. Each time they got a big win, our guys came back and kept responding."
Team Rankings -- West Virginia is ranked 12th in the latest IntermatWrestle.com poll, the most-recognized team poll. WVU was ranked eighth from December 2-January 2, its highest ranking since February 13, 1998. The Mountaineers have been ranked in the Top 25 all season.
According to the January 16 NWCA poll, the Mountaineers are rated at the 10th-best dual meet team in the nation. In the Amateur Wrestling News poll released January 10, the Mountaineers are the ninth-best team in the country.
Rocking The Ranked -- The last time the Mountaineers defeated a ranked team was last weekend, a 31-20 win over No.22 Nebraska. Both of WVU's losses have come to teams ranked in the Top 10.
McMath Starts Roll In Vegas -- Tom McMath, who was unranked prior to the Las Vegas Invitational, beat te odds as he rolled through the 165 bracket at the tournament Nov. 30-Dec. 1. McMath defeated No.4 Chris Vitale of Lehigh 7-6 in the finals. He also notched a 5-4 win against No.8 Carl Fronhaufer of Pitt. It was McMath's second tournament title this season as he was also the champion at the Navy Classic. The win vaulted McMath into the Top 10 in both national polls, where he has been since (5th by AWN and 6th by Intermat). McMath notched two victories last weekend running his winning streak to 11. His last loss was November 25 to No.1 Joe Heskett of Iowa State.
Cunanan The Conquerer -- Shane Cunanan has made an immediate impact since transferring from Oregon State to WVU. Cunanan, a 141-pound junior from Spokane, Wash., defeated No.2 Sean Gray of Virginia Tech and No.7 Aaron Holker of Iowa State in back-to-back weeks. For his efforts against Holker, Cunanan was named WVU's athlete of the week and the EWL's wrestler of the week. He had a strong outing last weekend against Bloomsburg and Nebraska recording two pins for 12 dual meet points for the Mountaineers.
The Return Of Greg Jones -- WVU has an uncanny history of great athletes with the name Greg Jones, but this year's wrestling squad may have the finest of them all. Jones, a freshman from Slickville, Pa., went 23 straight matches (dating back to last season) before losing a match, falling one short of the record set by his brother Vertus in 1999-2000. His streak ended in a hard-fought 9-8 loss to No.2 Otto Olson of Michigan. Jones is currently ranked third by IntermatWrestle.com and fourth by Amateur Wrestling News, the highest of any Mountaineer this season and the highest of his career. Jones' two wins last week moves him into a tie for sixth on WVU's all-time wins list for freshman.
Carr Can Go -- Senior Joe Carr has lofty expectations for himself this season and has started the season on track to accomplish all of his goals. A three-time NCAA qualifier, Carr is off to a 19-2 start this year. He was a champion at the WVU Open and the Navy Classc and finished runner-up at the Las Vegas Invitational. Carr's only two losses have come against Bryan Snyder, the top-ranked wrestler at 157. Carr has an 89-31 career record and ranks 8th on WVU's all-time top 10 wins list. He leads the team in major decisions with seven and is tied for the lead in wins with 19.
A Kehler Comeback -- After missing the early portion of the season due to a hand injury, heavyweight Ryan Kehler is beginning to find his form. Kehler recorded two pins against Bloomsburg and Nebraska in just :34 and :25 to move into a tie for second on WVU's all-time pins list. Kehler is 6-3 on the year and ranked 19th in the latest Amateur Wrestling News poll.
Strength In The Middle -- While talent abounds throughout the Mountaineer lineup, the middle weight classes are proving to be a major strength of the squad. Through classes 141-174, the WVU starters are a combined 89-18 with a winning percentage of .832. Last week against Bloomsburg and Nebraska, the group went 9-1.
Terrific Tournaments -- Perhaps one of the major reasons WVU has jumped in the polls is because of the team's success in tournaments. The Mountaineers recorded a second-place finish at the Navy Classic on Nov. 17, which included the crowning of six individual champions (Brandon Lauer, Billy Smith, Joe Carr, Tom McMath, Greg Jones and Brent Miller). WVU was equally as impressive at the Las Vegas Invitational, where the team added another strong second-place finish behind fourth-ranked Michigan and in front of nationally-ranked teams Lehigh, Pitt, Arizona State, Edinboro, Nebraska, Oregon State and Fresno State. McMath finished first, while Smith and Carr took second place at the tournament. Jones suffered a tough loss in the semi-finals but rebounded for third place. Lauer recorded two pins and two technical falls before falling in the semi-finals.
Back On The Mat -- Several prominent Mountaineers are returning to the mat this year after suffering season-ending injuries last season. Brandon Lauer and Greg Jones both sw some action as true freshmen last year before injuring shoulders. Junior Billy Smith went down with an ACL injury before the 2000-01 season started while junior Tom McMath suffered a neck injury late in the year. Senior heavyweight Ryan Kehler suffered a hand injury earlier this season and missed two early season tournaments but has been in action since Nov. 25 at Iowa State.
Up Next For The Mountaineers -- WVU returns to action in the Coliseum on Saturday, January 26, at 5 p.m against Buffalo.
Loaded Schedule -- The Mountaineers have put together one of the most difficult schedules in the country. According to the January 22 IntermatWrestle.com poll, six Mountaineer dual opponents are ranked among the nation's Top 25 and two (Ohio State and Iowa State) are ranked in the Top Five.
Head Of The Class -- Head coach Craig Turnbull notched his second consecutive top-15 recruiting class prior to this season. West Virginia's 2001 wrestling recruiting class was ranked 13th in the nation by Intermatwrestle.com.
The Mountaineers landed four wrestlers who were rated among the top 20 in the nation in their weight classes. Matt Lebe of Jeanette High in Jeanette, Pa., was rated as the seventh-best wrestler at 160 pounds, Nathan Kendjorsky of Buckeye Local in Yorkville, Ohio, was ranked as the 11th-best prospect at 112 pounds and Seth Lisa of Northampton High in Northampton, Pa., was considered the 16th-best wrestler in the nation at 130 pounds.
World Championship Connection -- The 2001 World Championships had a West Virginia flavor to it this year. Former WVU wrestler Dominic Black and current Mountaineer assistant coach Zeke Jones took part in the World Wrestling Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, Nov. 22-25.
Black, who wrestled at WVU from 1988-1991, competed in the championships as the No.1 rated wrestler in the United States at 97-kg. Jones, who assumed the role of head coach of the team when Mark Manning decided to resign the post to attend to his duties at Nebraska, led two athletes to a top-10 fnish and two others to medals. The team finished in fifth place with 28 points.
When West Virginia wrestles this season...
- at home: 3-0
- on the road: 1-2
- against ranked teams: 2-2
- against non-ranked teams: 2-0
- against EWL opponents: 2-0
- against EWL oppoents at home: 2-0
- against EWL opponents on the road: 0-0
- against non-conference opponents: 2-2
- against the Big Ten: 1-1
- against the Big 12: 1-1