Five WVU Wrestlers Win Titles at W&J Open

By Ira Green
WVU Sports Information Office

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (November 16, 2009) – Five West Virginia University wrestlers won titles on Nov. 14 at the Washington and Jefferson College Open in Washington, Pa.

Redshirt senior Donnie Jones took first place at 165 pounds, as he cruised to a 4-0 record in the open and was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler. He earned a first-round bye and posted a 17-6 major decision over University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s Zach Wolford. After earning another victory, Jones defeated Penn State’s Jake Kemerer, 5-3, and pinned UPJ’s Kyle Keane in 2:35 for the title.

“Donnie wrestled very well,” coach Craig Turnbull says. “He had some good competition. Jake Kemerer from Penn State made the team after defeating the All-American, Dan Vallimont, who beat Donnie last year at the NCAA Tournament. As a freshman, Penn State decided to redshirt him so he was at the tournament. It was a hard-fought match.”

Sophomores Colin Johnston (133) and Matt Ryan (184), freshman Cameron Gallaher (197) and junior Brandon Williamson (HWT) also won titles at their respective weight classes.

Johnston, an Eighty-Four, Pa., native, wrestled the 2008-09 campaign at 141 pounds, but dropped to 133 pounds this year. He showed no problems wrestling at a lower weight class with three of his five wins coming by bonus decision. In his opening match, he majored Shippensburg’s Simon Rice, 15-5, and then earned a 13-1 major over UPJ’s Matt Scherich. Johnston faced freshman teammate Nathan Pennesi in the quarterfinals and registered a 3-2 victory. Johnston then won the finals by pinning Mercyhurst’s David Bolger in 4:29.

Pennesi finished third at 133 pounds. His first three matches were indicative of his ability to transfer his high school success to the collegiate level. He pinned Thiel College’s Adam Householder in 2:30, tech falled Shippensburg’s Russell Davidson, 17-1, and then posted a 12-4 major decision over Duquesne’s Jake Swink.

"The purpose of the tournament was really the same as when we ran the WVU Open,” Turnbull adds. “We really wanted an opportunity to get everyone in there, get multiple matches in a day and get used to competing again. We want to let them find out what's working and what isn't and let us (coaching staff) assess that, as well as their conditioning level. It's good feedback for the individuals, but it's really good feedback for the coaches."

A Grafton, W.Va., native, Gallaher went 4-0 at the tournament. He pinned Washington and Jefferson’s Nathan Miller in 1:25, blanked UPJ’s Petros Gerogilas, 7-0, and then defeated teammate Kyle Rooney, a junior, 4-1, for the title.

Of the six remaining weight classes that the Mountaineers did not capture, the team had four runner-up finishes. Freshman Shane Young took second at 125 pounds, while redshirt sophomore Mark Tsikerdanos placed second at 149 pounds. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Eason (157) and redshirt senior Chance Litton (174) also took second place at their respective weight divisions.

"The day was very successful,” Turnbull says. “The guys found out things that were working and things that were deficient. I think it'll make our practices much more focused now, getting everybody matches to where they get back in the room with a much clearer idea of what they need to work on and the intensity they need to compete at to be successful. I think many had very good success."

WVU returns to action this weekend, with part of the team traveling to Annapolis, Md., for the 2009 Navy Classic on Saturday, Nov. 21. The Mountaineers’ dual meet starters will compete at the Sprawl & Brawl dual meet on Sunday, Nov. 22, in Vestal, N.Y. WVU faces Wyoming at 11:30 a.m., and then Illinois at 1:15 p.m.

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