WVU Stuns Pitt

February 6, 2004

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University wrestling team stunned the Pitt Panthers Friday night at the WVU Coliseum, pulling out a 21-13, dual meet win over its neighboring rival.

Greg Jones secures the fall to put WVU in the lead for the first time on the way to a 21-13 decision. (All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks)

Trailing 10-0 after three bouts to the Panthers (6-4, 3-1), the 20th-ranked Mountaineers (5-4, 3-0) won six of the final seven matches to extend their EWL winning streak to 17 straight.

“It is a great win to have to battle back like that,” says WVU head coach Craig Turnbull. “It's impressive to see that our character is good when we got beat in some places we didn't expect to. We responded well but I hope it's not a pattern that we have to keep repeating. We knew it was going to be a battle from the beginning and you have to give both teams credit.”

Pitt opened the match with three victories at 125, 133 and 141 pounds to take an early 10-point lead.

Mike Torriero (149) put West Virginia on the board with a 14-8 decision over Pitt’s Matt Kocher. The senior Mountaineer used a strong first period to take an early 4-1 lead. The Sound Beach, N.Y., native, trailed 7-5 after two periods before erupting for eight points in the third to seal WVU’s first win of the night.

The momentum switched to WVU’s favor at 157 and 165 pounds with Mountaineer victories from Matt Lebe (157) and Zac Fryling (165).

At 157 pounds, Matt Lebe scored first to take an early 2-0 lead against Justin Nestor. After trading escapes to open the second and third periods, Lebe scored on a single-leg takedown and tallied riding time to secure a 6-1 decision. Lebe, holding a No. 8 national ranking, leads the team with 21 wins on the year.

“Our guys started battling back and it made for a great dual meet to watch,” says Turnbull. “I think the crowd really enjoy the action and fortunately we were able to come out on top with that kind of energy in the stands.”

True freshman Fryling continues to shine on the mat in his first season as a Mountaineer. Fryling, bringing the crowd to their feet, upset eighteenth-ranked Zachariah Doll at 165 pounds. Fryling trailed 6-5 in an action-filled first period. He would score three takedowns in the middle period before holding on to an 11-9 victory. Fryling’s 15th win of the season narrowed WVU’s deficit to 10-9.

“I think that is the second time in a row Zac has stepped up for us,” says teammate Greg Jones. “Today might have been more important though. He is progressing nicely as a freshmen and keeps getting better and better every time he steps on the mat.”

After dropping a 6-0 decision at 174 pounds, NCAA champion Greg Jones steered the Mountaineer back on track with his fifth fall of the year. Jones, the nation's top wrestler at 184, raced out to a 9-2 lead through two periods. Jones earned six team points for West Virginia with a fall over Mike Croyle at 5:32 in the final period.

“It took me a little bit to establish a tempo and rhythm,” says Jones. “Croyle fell in the wrong direction and I jumped on the opportunity and was able to get the pin.”

A thrilling match at 197 pounds saw No. 14-ranked Matt Daddino and No. 18-ranked Josh Birt battled to the finish. The two grapplers wrestled to a scoreless first period and traded escapes to open the second and third periods. With the score knotted at 1-1, Daddino scored a takedown with 29 seconds remaining for a 3-1 win.

The Mountaineers held a five-point lead heading into the final match of the night. It would take an overtime win from Lanfer Simpson (285) to seal the dual meet win. Simpson took an early 3-0 lead on Travis Shirley. Shirley nearly pinned Simpson in the second to take a 4-3 lead after two periods. Simpson scored a reversal in the final period to send the match into overtime. The sophomore Mountaineer attacked first with a takedown for the 7-5 win.

“Lanfer knew he had one chance to win the bout and he did,” says WVU assistant coach Zeke Jones. “We pulled Lanfer off the football field and he is doing a phenomenal job on the mat. He came up big in overtime, just as he has all year for us.”

The Mountaineers make their first EWL road trip to Virginia Tech on Sunday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m., in Blacksburg, Va.

West Virginia 21 (5-4, 3-0 EWL)
Pitt 13 (6-4, 3-1 EWL)
125: Drew Headlee (PITT) Major Troy Forte (WVU) 12-4
133: Mike Ciotti (PITT) Dec #20 Seth Lisa (WVU) 6-4 OT
141: #19 Ronald Tarquinio (PITT) Dec #12 Joe Clarke (WVU) 8-2
149: Mike Torriero (WVU) Dec Matt Kocher (PITT) 14-8
157: #8 Matt Lebe (WVU) Dec Justin Nestor (PITT) 6-1
165: Zac Fryling (WVU) Dec #18 Zachariah Doll (PITT) 11-9
174: Fran Iorfido (PITT) Dec Eric Mullen (WVU) 6-0
184: #1 Greg Jones (WVU) Fall Mike Croyle (PITT) 5:32
197: #14 Matt Daddino (WVU) Dec #18 Josh Birt (PITT) 3-2
285: Lanfer Simpson (WVU) Dec Travis Shirley (PITT) 7-5 OT

Attendance: 913
Referee: Fred Richardson

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