Mountaineers to Face Grand Canyon, Arizona State
TEMPE, Ariz. (January 2, 2015) – The West Virginia University wrestling team has headed west to start 2015, as the Mountaineers will take on Grand Canyon University in Phoenix and Arizona State in Tempe in a pair of duals this weekend.
WVU will face the Grand Canyon Lopes on Saturday at the GCU Arena in Phoenix in a 9 p.m. (ET) match. The squad will then travel to nearby Tempe for a re-match with Arizona State at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday. Also slated for a 9 p.m. (ET) start, the dual will be broadcast on the Pac-12 network.
“We are looking forward to the second half of our season. The men have been training hard throughout the break and this is the time for us to make a move to the next level as a team,” said WVU coach Sammie Henson.
Saturday marks the first-ever head-to-head meeting between West Virginia and Grand Canyon. However, both squads competed in the 33rd Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational where Cory Stainbrook and Godwin Nyamba squared off at 133 pounds, with Stainbrook earning the 6-4 decision.
Sunday will be the seventh all-time meeting between the Mountaineers and the Sun Devils and the second this season. Arizona State leads the series, 5-1, including a 19-13 victory at the WVU Coliseum on November 13. Prior to the 2014 season, the two last met in 1998 when WVU earned a 20-16 victory. On December 6, the Mountaineers finished one spot ahead of the Sun Devils with a 16th-place finish at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas.
“Wrestling ASU for the second time in the same year in a home-and-home series is a unique situation for WVU,” said Henson. “We believe this series will grow into a great rivalry for years to come.”
All three programs boast head coaches in their first season at their respective institutions. In fact, the previous meeting between WVU and ASU marked the dual match debuts of Sammie Henson and Zeke Jones. Jones is no stranger to the Mountaineers, having served as an assistant coach at WVU and helping to produce three national champions and 12 All-Americans during his time in Morgantown. Henson, Felix and Marable also competed for Jones through U.S.A. Wrestling. Jon Sioredas is in his first season at the helm of the ‘Lopes after serving as an assistant coach at Chattanooga. His top assistant, Mark Ellis, was an All-American at Missouri with WVU assistants Marable and Dom Bradley and served as an assistant coach for the Tigers during Henson’s tenure as head assistant coach.
The week, Sunday in particular, will mark a homecoming for WVU assistant coach Danny Felix. A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Felix was a three-time Pac-10 champion at Arizona State. He was a 1995 All-American at 118 pounds for the Sun Devils before graduating with degree in fine arts in 1998. His family resides in nearby Chandler, Arizona.
Henson earned his first career victory as head coach with a 23-12 triumph of the Lock Haven Bald Eagles on December 19. After Zeke Moisey took a 12-3 major decision at 125, Michael Morales won by fall at 141 to give the Mountaineers a 10-3 lead. Ross Renzi pushed the WVU advantage to 13-9 with a 4-2 decision at 165 before newcomer Parker VonEgidy won a 9-7 decision at 174 to make it 16-9. Jake A, Smith sealed the deal with a 12-0 major decision at 197 before A.J. Vizcarrondo tacked on some insurance points with a 6-4 win by sudden victory at heavyweight.
Senior Michael Morales has been a leader on the mat for the Mountaineers, registering bonus-point victories on nine occasions. He boasts a team-best five major decisions to go along with a pair of tech. falls and a pair of pins. Bubba Scheffel leads the squad with four wins by fall to go with a trio of major decisions, while Zeke Moisey (3 MD, 1 TF, 2 pins) and Jake A. Smith (4 MD, 2 pins) have each scored bonus points on six occasions.
The Mountaineers will return to West Virginia on Monday for a quick turnaround. The team will travel to Hampton, Virginia, to compete in the Virginia Duals on January 9 and 10 at the Hampton Coliseum.
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