WVU Wrestling to Finish Regular-Season at Home

By Ira Green
WVU Sports Information Office

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (February 19, 2009) – The West Virginia University wrestling team will close out the regular-season portion of its schedule with a pair of home matches at the WVU Coliseum against Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) foes. The Mountaineers will face Cleveland State on Friday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m. Two days later on Sunday, WVU will play host to 13th-ranked Edinboro at 1 p.m.

The match on Friday against the Vikings (4-12, 0-5 EWL) will serve as “Senior Night” as well as “Dollar Night” – meaning all tickets and select concessions will be available for only $1 apiece.

WVU (7-4-1, 3-0-1 EWL) is coming off a 37-9 non-conference victory against Ohio on Feb. 14. The Mountaineers, who recorded four pins in the win, are unbeaten in their last six matches (5-0-1) heading into the contest against Cleveland State.

"I don't see Cleveland State very much. It appears their most successful wrestlers are on the two ends of their lineup, 125 and heavyweight,” Coach Craig Turnbull said. “Their heavyweight (Rashard Goff) and Dustin (Rogers) have a history together.

“You have four nationally ranked heavyweights and three of them are going to be at the Coliseum this weekend,” Turnbull added. “They all know each other and are pretty evenly matched. It's going to be very similar to the (Zach) Sheaffer match, where it's whoever creates a scoring opportunity in a critical moment. This weekend is a good challenge for Dustin and it will help get him ready for the tournaments, not only the EWL, but also the NCAA."

Cleveland State has lost its last seven matches, most recently a 30-10 decision against Clarion. Senior Antonio Nicholson (149), redshirt sophomore Rob Michaels (165) and redshirt senior Rashard Goff (HWT) all picked up victories, with Goff earning the lone bonus decision – a 12-3 major decision over Clarion’s Roman Husam.

Goff has led the way for the Vikings. Ranked No. 20 nationally at heavyweight, Goff owns a 27-8 overall mark and has three wins by fall. The senior wrestled WVU’s Rogers closely last year, but ultimately fell 2-1 after Rogers scored a reversal in the third period. Jordan Keller (125) and Michaels have also performed well this year. Keller holds a 22-15 overall mark with 10 wins coming by major decision, while Michaels is 16-8 at 165 pounds and has five pins this season.

Cleveland State Head Coach Ben Stehura is in his first season with the program. He previously coached at Limestone College where he compiled a 26-50-1 overall record in four seasons. Last season, the Vikings went 4-11 overall with a 0-6 in EWL action. Goff and 165-pounder Marcus Effner, returnees from last season, qualified for the 2008 NCAA Tournament; Effner has been absent from the lineup this season.

Following the bout with the Vikings, the Mountaineers will have a day to rest before facing Edinboro, who currently stands atop the league standings with a 4-0 mark; the Fighting Scots have a 13-4 overall record.

Edinboro, which will wrestle Pitt on Friday with first place in the league at stake, recently defeated then-No. 23 Hofstra, 26-13. The Fighting Scots won six bouts, three of which were bonus decisions. Top-ranked wrestlers Paul Donahoe (125) and Gregor Gillespie (157) each won his match.

"Edinboro is the superior team on paper,” Turnbull said. “They come in with a very strong team and they challenge us. Where we're strong, they're strong also. Every person we put on the mat is going to receive a very strong challenge. They have a very strong lineup and two national champions (Donahoe and Gregor Gillespie) in there. It's going to be an extreme challenge for us, but I know we're excited for that challenge. I'm hoping that Edinboro coming in with the lineup they are, it's going to bring out the best in our guys and help us get ready for the EWL and NCAA tournaments."

Seniors Donahoe and Gillespie are both undefeated at their weight classes; Donahoe owns a 27-0 overall mark at 125 pounds, while Gillespie has a 33-0 overall record at 157 pounds. The two have combined for 22 tech falls and nine pins.

Seniors Ricky Deubel (No. 19 at 133 pounds), Jarrod King (No. 11 at 165 pounds) and Joe Fendone (No. 13 at heavyweight) and sophomore Chris Honeycutt (No. 17 at 184 pounds) are also ranked in the Top 20 in the individual portion of the InterMat rankings.

The Fighting Scots are under the direction of Tim Flynn, who is in his 12th year with the program and boasts a 135-39-3 overall record during that time. The squad went 11-3 with a 6-0 league mark last year, finishing in first place in the league standings. All 10 wrestlers qualified for NCAAs last year with Gillespie garnering All-America honors at 157 pounds after a fifth-place showing at the NCAA Tournament; nine of last year’s NCAA qualifiers returned.

Since 2000, WVU holds an 8-1-0 advantage over Cleveland State, but trails Edinboro, 2-6-1.

Return to the WV-Mat front page