Lyons Announce 2015-16 Wrestling Slate
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (September 9, 2015) – Seven home events and a pair of rivalry match ups highlight the 2015-16 West Virginia wrestling schedule, as announced by director of athletics Shane Lyons on Wednesday.
“This year we will be tested with two of the toughest tournaments in the nation at Las Vegas and the Southern Scuffle,” said WVU coach Sammie Henson, who enters his second season at the helm of the Mountaineers. “We also have added some new teams from the Big 12, Big 10, ACC and Pac 12. We want to prepare like there is now tomorrow and be the best team we can be today. The future is now and we plan on attacking it head-on. We look forward to our fans coming out to all of the home events, especially the Mountaineer Quad.”
The Mountaineers open the season at the WVU Coliseum on November 8 at 10 a.m. when they host dual matches against Drexel, Campbell and Arizona State as part of the Mountaineer quad. It will be the first-ever meeting between Campbell and WVU, and is just the second time the Mountaineers have faced Drexel as they previously defeated the Dragons in 2014. ASU and WVU met three times last season, with the Sun Devils taking a 19-13 win in Morgantown to open the season. However, the Mountaineers went on to claim two victories in one week in January.
For the second consecutive season, West Virginia will partake in the Journeyman Northeast Duals at Hudson Valley Community College on Sunday, Nov. 15, starting at 11:15 a.m. This season the Mountaineers will face Michigan, Buffalo and Oregon State at the tournament. The Wolverines hold a 5-2 series lead, though the two have not met since 2004, while the Mountaineers are 2-0 against the Bulls since 2011. It will be the first meeting between West Virginia and Oregon State. WVU hits up its first open tournament of the season on Saturday, Nov. 21, when the Mountaineers travel to Henson’s hometown of St. Charles, Missouri, for the Joe Parisi Open.
The 34th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational will take place Dec. 4-5 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Henson and the Mountaineers posted the best team showing since 2007 at least year’s event, taking 16th overall. A trio of grapplers earned podium honors, as Michael Morales (141) took sixth and Jake A. Smith (197) and Zeke Moisey (125) took eighth at their respective weights.
The final dual of 2015 comes December 12, when Lock Haven travels to Morgantown for a 7 p.m. tilt. Last season’s 23-12 win over the Bald Eagles was the first of Henson’s head coaching career and pushed the Mountaineer’s all-time series lead to 22-15.
WVU will ring in the New Year at 2016 Southern Scuffle, which is one of the top in-season tournaments in the NCAA. The tournament, which runs from Thursday, Dec. 31, through Friday, Jan.1, is hosted by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and boasts some of the top wrestlers in Division I. A total of 29 All-Americans, including two national champions and six finalists, competed at the 2015 even with 93 nationally ranked grapplers.
The Mountaineers return home in mid-January to play host to a pair of Big 12 foes. Oklahoma State travels to the Coliseum on Friday, Jan. 15, for an 8 p.m. match while Oklahoma arrives Sunday, Jan. 17, for a 4 p.m. tilt. WVU lost to the then-No. 8 ranked Cowboys last season, though Moisey would later top Eddie Klimara in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships. The Mountaineers also lost a 25-13 match to the Sooners in 2015 despite wins from Moisey, Jake A. Smith and Bubba Scheffel.
In Tempe, Arizona, the Mountaineers are set to face Arizona State and Stanford on Saturday, Jan. 23. WVU took a 22-12 victory from the Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena last season, though ASU still leads the all-time series, 5-3. West Virginia has faced Stanford just one in program history, with the Cardinal taking the win back in 2004.
Henson and company travel to Blacksburg, Virginia, on January 30 to face the Hokies in a 2 p.m. contest. The event is part of the rejuvenated Black Diamond Challenge rivalry and will mark the first time since 2004 the teams have faced off. WVU leads the all-time series, 12-4.
The team then returns to Morgantown for a pair of home matches, starting February 12 when they host N.C. State in a 4 p.m. match. It will be the first meeting between the two since 1953, with WVU holding a 2-1 advantage in the series. Up next is the Backyard Brawl, as Pitt comes to town February 7 for a 1 p.m. tilt. Last year, West Virginia earned its first victory since 2007 as they capped the regular season with a 24-14 triumph of the then-No. 18 Panthers. However, Pitt leads the series 33-25-2.
West Virginia gets a glimpse of one of its newest conference opponent on February 12 when the team travels to Brookings, South Dakota, to face South Dakota State in the first-ever head-to-head meeting between the two. The Jackrabbits are one of six new additions to the Big 12 in wrestling. From there, the Mountaineers hit up another league foe as they head to Ames, Iowa, to take on Iowa State on February 14. The Cyclones, who won last year’s match by a score of 29-7 as the No.8-ranked team in the nation, own the 15-1 lead in a series that dates back to 1922.
The Mountaineers close out their home slate on February 19 when they welcome Clarion to the WVU Coliseum. WVU took a 26-9 victory from the Golden Eagles in Pennsylvania last season, and lead the series 22-14-2. West Virginia is tentatively scheduled to cap the regular season with a match at Edinboro on February 21; however that match will depend on the Fighting Scots’ participation in the National Duals.
The 2016 Big 12 Championship is set for March 5-6 at the Spring Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The tournament will feature a new two-day format to go along with the new site and the six new affiliate members. In addition to South Dakota State, the league has added Air Force, Northern Colorado, Utah Valley, Wyoming and North Dakota State allowing the tournament to gain back automatic qualifier status.
West Virginia will finish the year with the 2016 NCAA Division I National Wrestling Championships, which are set for March 17-19 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Moisey and WVU were the Cinderella story of last season’s tournament, as the then-true freshman knocked off four unseeded opponents to earn the program’s first All-American honors since 2007.
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