WVU Wrestling Returns to Road for EWL Action

By Ira Green
WVU Sports Information Office

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (January 30, 2009) – For the third-straight weekend, the West Virginia University wrestling team will hit the road, taking on Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) foe Lock Haven on Saturday, Jan. 31. The match between the Mountaineers and Bald Eagles is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. at Thomas Fieldhouse.

"It should be a very close, competitive match,” Coach Craig Turnbull said. “The matchups concern me perhaps more so than Bloomsburg and Clarion. I think the dual meet itself will be a challenging one and every point, either way in winning or losing, will have a lot to do with the outcome of the match."

WVU (5-4, 2-0 EWL) has won its last three matches, two of which came last weekend against league opponents. The Mountaineers pulled out a 19-16 come-from-behind victory at Bloomsburg on Jan. 23 and then took another win a day later at Clarion, 22-14, marking Turnbull’s 250th career victory.

Lock Haven (6-7-1, 1-2 EWL) is coming off a decisive 32-10 victory at Cleveland State. The Bald Eagles won seven bouts, four coming by bonus decision. Sophomore 133-pounder Billy Ashnault scored a 16-0 technical fall and senior Tom Kocher (184) and freshman Aaron Ernest 165) each pinned their opponent en route to the team’s first league victory.

"They put out a 149-pounder that David (Jauregui) split with last year. They've had some productivity at 184 and one of their stronger wrestlers is at 197,” Turnbull added. “Those are places that when we've had to come back, those are matches that we controlled well. This presents a little bit of a challenge, that if they crack us at those weights, we'll have to make that up somewhere else, but that's the fun of a dual meet."

Fifth-year seniors Matt Fittery (149) and Ben Hepburn (197) lead Lock Haven with 24 and 20 wins, respectively.

Fittery, who was ranked 20th nationally last week, has seven major decisions, five victories by fall and three via tech fall. The 149-pounder had a five-match winning streak snapped by Cleveland State’s Antonio Nicholson (4-3 decision), ultimately exiting Fittery from the rankings.

Hepburn, who took first place at the Mat Town Tournament and second at the PSAC Championships, has won six of his last seven matches. The last time Hepburn faced a WVU wrestler was last season. After being tech falled by EWL Champion Jared Villers, 17-0, Hepburn lost again to Villers, this time in the EWL Tournament, 1-0.

The Bald Eagles are led by seventh-year Head Coach Rocky Bonomo, who owns a 51-63-1 record. Bonomo helped guide three wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament a season ago – Fittery, Hepburn and Ashnault. Last year, Lock Haven finished with a 9-8 overall mark, 2-4 in league action.

Leading the way for WVU are fifth-year seniors Kurt Brenner (174) and Dustin Rogers (HWT). Each has 11 wins this season and holds a 7-2 mark in dual meet action. Rogers leads the team in victories by fall (4) and is tied for the team lead in dual points for (30) with fifth-year senior Jauregui.

The match will be streamed live on HavenSports.com.

All-time, the Mountaineers hold a 16-14 advantage over the Bald Eagles.

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