WVU Travels to No. 15 Penn State

By Ira Green WVU Sports Information Office

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (December 13, 2008) – On Sunday, Dec. 14, the West Virginia University wrestling team will compete against No. 15 Penn State. The match against the Big Ten conference foe Nittany Lions is slated to start at 1 p.m. at Rec Hall.

“It’s probably one of the Top five venues to compete in for wrestling,” Coach Craig Turnbull said. “They have such tradition and following, so it’s really a neat environment for our guys to compete in and they are usually recognized as the premier program in the East. We have competed over the last 10 years against them very well. It’s become a very competitive match and really fun to compete in. They’ll put 3,000-4,000 in the stands for the match on Sunday.”

WVU (2-0) last wrestled at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Invitational on Dec. 5-6. Several Mountaineers faced Top 25 opponents, while fifth-year seniors Kurt Brenner (174) and Dustin Rogers (HWT) placed at the event.

Brenner, a Freedom, Pa., native won three-straight matches at the Invitational before falling to Nebraska’s Brandon Browne, then-ranked No. 3 nationally, in the quarterfinals. Brenner, ranked No. 14 nationally, defeated New Mexico Highland’s Jesse Feinsad in the consolation bracket en route to a fourth-place finish.

Rogers, who is ranked No. 18 nationally, also had a successful run, posting a 4-2 record at the tournament. The Corning, Calif., native won via pin fall at 2:56 over Brown’s Zach Zdrada. Rogers’ other wins came against Army’s Mike Sprigg in a sudden victory, Indiana’s Nate Everhart, and Minnesota’s Benjamin Berhow, then-ranked No. 19 nationally, to earn seventh place.

Newcomers Grant Lowther (133) and Lance Bryson (184) performed well after competing at the prestigious event for the first time in their careers.

Lowther, a redshirt-freshman, won three consecutive matches. After dropping his first match to Cal State Fullerton’s TJ Dillashaw, ranked No. 19 at the time, Lowther dominated Virginia Tech’s Jared Jones, 8-0. Moving into the next round of the consolation bracket, the Washington, Pa., native defeated Dickinson State’s Blake Hunter, and then scored another 8-0 major decision, this time against Lester Brown of North Idaho.

“We’ve been making some good progress [individually and as a team], but it’s not the lineup I expected to put in there,” Turnbull commented. “I do expect everyone we put in there to be ready to get their best wrestling out and go up there and battle really hard. If we battle really hard, I think this will be another valuable experience for us and will progress us to where we need to be toward the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, Penn State (3-2), which started the season 0-2, has rebounded to win three straight dual meets, all at the “Sprawl & Brawl” duals. The Nittany Lions defeated then-No. 24 ranked Virginia, 19-15, then-No. 15 ranked Edinboro, 24-16, and Binghamton, 36-8.

Under 11th year Coach Troy Sunderland, the Nittany Lions have compiled a 110-80 mark. Penn State returns 14 letterwinners and four of its eight NCAA qualifiers. As of the latest InterMat rankings on Dec. 9, the Nittany Lions have four wrestlers ranked in the Top 25.

Penn State is led by 149-pounder junior Bubba Jenkins, ranked No. 2 in the nation. Jenkins, a two-time All-American, finished as the NCAA Runner-Up last year at his respective weight and owns a 10-0 mark this season. Sophomore Brad Pataky (125) and freshman Frank Molinaro (141) also own winning records, with Pataky at 12-4 and Molinaro at 12-2.

The Nittany Lions last wrestled at the 2008 Nittany Lion Open on Dec. 7. A total of five Penn State wrestlers earned titles at the event, including Molinaro and Jenkins.

The meeting between the two squads will be the 32nd all-time, with Penn State owning the series, 24-7. WVU has won two of the last four matches.
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