Mountaineers Set for NCAAs in NYC
NEW YORK (March 16, 2016) – Three members of the West Virginia University wrestling team will compete in the 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, set for March 17-19 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Dylan Cottrell (157) and Bubba Scheffel (184) earned automatic bids as each took third place at the 2016 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City earlier this month. Jacob A. Smith was awarded an at-large bid at 197 pounds, while Zeke Moisey earned a bid at 125 but was forced with withdraw due to injury.
The tournament will start Thursday at Noon ET with pigtails and the first round of championship competition (Session I). Wrestle-backs and the championship second round (Session II) will take place at 7 p.m. ET. Quarterfinals and the second and third round of wrestle-backs (Session III) will begin at 11 a.m. ET on Friday, followed by semifinals and fourth round wrestle-backs (Session IV) at 7 p.m. ET that evening. Medal rounds (Session V) will take place at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, with the championship finals (Session VI) set for 8 p.m. ET Saturday night.
Sessions I, II, III and V will be broadcasted on ESPNU, with Friday’s semifinals and Saturday’s finals to appear on ESPN. All six sessions are available on ESPN3, with live stats on TrackWrestling.com.
Cottrell (30-9) will face No. 10 seed John Boyle of American (29-7) in the first round of the 157-pound bracket. Scheffel (21-14) is set to take on No. 12 Loreno Thomas of Penn (31-6) in the opening session of the 184-pound bracket. No. 13 seed Smith (30-10) is set to square off with Cornell’s Owen Scott (157) at 197 pounds.
Smith was named the No. 13 seed at 197 pounds last week. He is just the second Mountaineer since 2009 to enter the tournament with a seed as only the top 16 wrestlers are seeded. Michael Morales started the tournament as the 14th seed at 141 pounds in 2015.
All three WVU wrestlers competing this week bring prior experience with them to New York. Scheffel leads the way as a three-time NCAA qualifier. He made his first tournament as a sophomore, earning an automatic bid at 174 pounds before claiming an at-large bid at 184 in 2015. Smith returns for his second trip to nationals after earning an at-large bid last season and will look to improve upon his 2-2 record at the event. Cottrell dons the Flying WV at NCAAs for the first time, but is also a two-time qualifier. He earned a trip to the tournament as a redshirt freshman in 2014 after winning the SoCon title at 149 pounds while competing at Appalachian State. Cottrell entered the 2014 championships as the No. 12 seed at 149, and went 0-2 after suffering an injury.
As four Mountaineers have qualified for the 2016 NCAA Championships, West Virginia boasts 174 national qualifiers since 1979 when the NCAA implemented the current qualification system. The Mountaineers have earned All-America accolades 30 times at the NCAA Championships and have posted 15 top-25 finishes at the event since 1929. The squad boasts five individual national championships its history, including three-time national champion Greg Jones.
In 2015, then-freshman Moisey was the Cinderella story of St. Louis. Moisey entered the tournament unseeded and upset four ranked opponent, including a defeat of No. 2 seed Nahshon Garrett of Cornell in the second round and a pin of No. 6 Thomas Gilman of Iowa in the semifinals, to earn a spot in the championship finals at 125 pounds. Moisey became the program's 30th All-American and the first since Brandon Rader in 2007. The freshman phenom was also the first Mountaineer to wrestle for a national championship since Greg Jones in 2005 and was the first unseeded wrestler to make the finals since 2003. His run helped WVU to its first top-20 finish since 2005.
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