Missouri Preview

By Scott Castleman
WVU Sports Information Office

December 19, 2005

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The No. 24-rated West Virginia University wrestling team opens its dual meet season on Tuesday, Dec. 20, playing host to No. 12-rated Missouri at 7 p.m. in the WVU Coliseum.

Senior Matt Lebe recently recorded his 100th career victory and is the nation's fifth-ranked 157 pounder.

“It’s so early in the year it's not that I know what to expect but I know that all of the guys should wrestle with intensity and very good effort,” Head Coach Craig Turnbull said. “One thing that we can’t give these guys is experience but that is something that they are getting very quickly. It should be a good battle.”

The Tigers come into Tuesday’s dual meet 2-0 already this season with wins over Stanford (32-8) and Ohio State (25-13). Missouri also competed in the Las Vegas Invitational, finishing third overall.

Seven of Missouri's 10 starters are currently ranked in the Top 25 in their respective weight classes: No. 13 Austin DeVoe (125), No. 15 Tyler McCormick (133), No. 19 Chris McCormick (141), No. 4 Matt Pell (165), No. 1 Ben Askren (174), No. 17 Raymond Jordan (184) and No. 13 Jeff Foust. Askren leads the team with an 83-8 career record and a perfect 17-0 record this season.

Despite being young, the Mountaineers have started off the season with solid performances in its three tournament appearances. WVU placed five wrestlers in the top two at the WVU Open: senior Matt Lebe (157), sophomore Kurt Brenner (174) and freshmen Kyle Turnbull (125), Brandon Rader (141) and Chance Litton (174). Lebe and Brenner both claimed titles.

West Virginia bettered its finishes at both the Navy Classic and the Las Vegas Invitational from a year ago. At the Navy Classic the Mountaineers took second as Lebe and Rader both claimed titles.

At the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational WVU finished eighth in the 52-team field. Once again Rader and Lebe were tough as they both finished third along with Brenner. Freshman David Jauregui placed sixth as well.

“As a coaching staff we have been really pleased with the effort the young guys have given so far,” said Turnbull. “Just the approach they have towards their wrestling is very good and it is starting to show in their results.”

Lebe has been West Virginia's most consistent performer, recently recording his 100th career win. The Jeannette, Pa., native became only the ninth Mountaineer in school history to reach the century mark when he defeated Penn’s Gene Zanetti at the Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 3. Lebe is currently 101-29 for his career and 14-1 so far this season.

In the latest Intermatwrestle.com rankings WVU is receiving votes for the Top 25 and three Mountaineers are ranked individually. Lebe is No. 5 in the 157-pound class, while fellow senior Seth Lisa ranks 16th in the 133-pound class and Rader comes in at 17th in the 141-pound class.

The two teams have only met once before with Missour claiming a 22-15 decision in 2004 at the Sun Devil Duals in Tempe, Ariz.

Tuesday’s match can be heard live on the Internet through MSNsportsNET.com via CSTV's All-Access.

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