WVU Competes in Pair of Weekend Events

By Ira Green
WVU Sports Information Office

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (November 21, 2008) – The West Virginia University wrestling team will compete in two tournaments this weekend. On Saturday, Nov. 22, half of the team will battle at the Navy Classic in Halsey Field House in Annapolis, Md. On Sunday, Nov. 23, the other half of the squad will wrestle in Vestal, N.Y., at the “Sprawl & Brawl” event, held at West Gym at Binghamton University.

This year’s version of the Navy Classic, including WVU, is comprised of 13 teams, highlighted by host Navy, Bucknell and George Mason. A total of eight nationally ranked wrestlers are slated to compete at the event. To make the event even more challenging, four champions from 2007’s tournament will return to defend their titles.

The Mountaineers did not compete in the Navy Classic last season, but had three wrestlers (Brandon Rader (141), Zac Fryling (157) and Jared Villers (197)) win titles in 2006 en route to a third-place finish.

“The Navy Classic is going to allow us to get six to seven guys to go over there and get some wrestling in,” Coach Craig Turnbull said. “It's really important to our program to keep as many people involved as we can. From the first dual meets, I think those are always really important to get started and get that whole feeling that the season is actually starting. It's a whole different feeling than a tournament so I think everyone is excited to wrestle those matches.”

The following day features WVU at the “Sprawl & Brawl” dual meet. The Mountaineers will face Columbia and North Carolina.

Columbia opened its season with the Brute/Binghamton Open. Lions’ sophomore heavyweight Ryan Flores is the lone ranked wrestler, standing at No. 19 in the latest InterMat poll. Senior Derek Sickles (157) has also performed well this season, posting a 6-1 record and earning two victories by pin fall.

North Carolina (0-3) began its 2008-09 campaign with the ACC/Big Ten Clash at the Eddie Smith Field House. The Tar Heels dropped matches to Michigan State (12-18), Wisconsin (8-27) and Illinois (9-26). Senior Vincent Ramirez, ranked No. 16 in InterMat, has paced the team at the 141-pound division, posting a 6-1 overall record. Senior heavyweight and 2008 NCAA Qualifier Justin Dobies, ranked No. 13 nationally by InterMat, leads the team with seven wins.

In 2007, WVU took on Sacred Heart and then-No. 2 powerhouse Iowa State. WVU defeated Sacred Heart, 37-3, with the Mountaineers taking victories in nine of 10 matches, four by major decision. Against Iowa State, WVU dropped a 24-9 decision. Seniors Chance Litton and Kurt Brenner are the only returnees to earn wins against the Cyclones.

"I'm just excited to get it started,” Turnbull commented. “Everything is a little bit unknown. Our guys a are a little bit unknown to me until we get started and some matches under our belt. I think it's going to be a good weekend for us and we're excited."

WVU opened the season on Nov. 15 with the 26th annual WVU Open. Fifth-year senior David Jauregui and redshirt-freshman Mark Tsikerdanos split the 149-pound crown and freshman Lance Bryson and redshirt-freshman Robert DeSano split the 184-pound title. At 197 pounds, sophomore Kyle Rooney took the title after defeating Navy's Adam Newton courtesy of a pin fall at 2:07.

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