WVU Qualifies Four for NCAAs
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (March 11, 2015) – West Virginia University wrestlers Zeke Moisey (125), Michael Morales (141), Bubba Scheffel (184) and Jake A. Smith (197) have qualified for the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, set for March 19-21 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
All four earned at-large bids, as the NCAA does not consider the Big 12 Championships a qualifying tournament.
“We’re excited to have four wrestlers compete at NCAAs in St. Louis next week,” said WVU coach Sammie Henson. “We have some battles right out of the gate and will be prepared to lay it all on the line.”
Moisey will face No. 15 seed Chasen Tolbert of Utah Valley University, whom he won a 14-10 decision over at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational back in December. He also boasts wins over two more seeded wrestlers, pinning No. 5 seed Sean Boyle of Chattanooga and defeated No. 13 seed Ben Willeford of Cleveland State in a 5-2 decision at November’s Navy Classic. Moisey, a true freshman, qualifies days after taking the runner-up spot at the 2015 Big 12 Championship in Ames, Iowa. After expecting to redshirt the season, the Northampton, Pennsylvania, native put together a 28-13 record. His resume features a trio of wins over ranked opponents, including a pin of then-No. 10 Boyle.
Entering the tournament as the No. 16 seed, Morales is set to meet Michigan’s George Fisher in the first round. The senior from Brick, New Jersey, earns his third trip to the NCAA Championships and will wrestle at 141 pounds this year. Morales wrestled at the national tournament at 149 pounds in 2014 after qualifying at 141 as a sophomore in 2012. He currently owns a 28-12 mark heading into NCAAs with a 4-5 record against top-20 wrestlers and has faced 11 members of this year’s bracket, with wins over Joe Spisak (Virginia), Matthew Kraus (Arizona State), Mike Pongracz (Chattanooga) and Tyler Smith (Bucknell).
Scheffel will take on No. 2 seed Max Thomuseitt of rival Pitt, whom he did not face during the regular season dual between the two squads. The junior from Oakland, Maryland, is 20-15 on the season, having faced 11 nationally ranked opponents. Scheffel defeated fellow qualifier and then-No. 6 Kenny Courts at Cliff Keen in Las Vegas. In addition to Courts, Scheffel has previously faced 11 members of the 184-pound bracket this season: No. 1 seed Gabriel Dean (Cornell), No. 3 seed Blake Stauffer (Arizona State), No. 6 seed Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State), No.12 seed Nolan Boyd (Oklahoma State), No.13 seed Vic Avery (Edinboro), No.16 seed Timothy Dudley (Nebraska), Ophir Bernstein (Brown), Fred Garcia (Lock Haven), Thomas Sleigh (Bucknell), Andrew Romanchik (Ohio) and Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State).
Smith will meet No. 15 seed Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska on Thursday morning. A native of Charleston, West Virginia, Smith arrives in St. Louis with a 25-9 record and a runner-up finish at the 2015 Big 12 Championships. A sophomore transfer from Cleveland State, he’s wrestled two opponents on the lower portion of the bracket, twice defeating Edinboro’s Vince Pickett and dropping a 4-2 decision to No. 14 seed Phil Wellington of Ohio. Smith has faced eight wrestlers in this year’s field, including No. 3 Seed Kyven Gadson of Iowa State and No. 5 seed Scott Schiller of Minnesota. He previously won a 6-1 decision over No. 9 seed Jace Bennett of Cornell.
Tickets for the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships can be purchased at NCAA.com.
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