Cottrell Heads to NCAA Championships

ST. LOUIS (March 15, 2017) – West Virginia University wrestling’s Dylan Cottrell heads to the 2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and is prepped for his first-round match on Thursday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

The tournament will Thursday through Friday. The first round of action starts at noon ET on Thursday at the Scottrade Center with the second championship round and the first round of consolation matches to start at 7 p.m. ET that evening. Quarterfinal rounds will take place Friday at 11 a.m. ET, followed by semifinals at 8 p.m. ET. Medal rounds are set for Saturday at 11 a.m. with the championship finals scheduled for 8 p.m. that evening.

Early sessions will be broadcasted on ESPNU, while second round, semifinal and championship matches will be shown live on ESPN. Live stats for all matches are available on Track Wrestling. All matches will also be shown on ESPN3.

“We had great practices leading into this weekend,” third-year WVU coach Sammie Henson said. “We’re ready for Dylan to wrestle at the highest level and reach his goal of All-America status. Thanks in advance to all of the friends and fan of WVU wrestling who are supporting us here and back home.”

West Virginia qualified a pair of wrestlers to this year's NCAA Championships, though Cottrell will be the only Mountaineer to compete. Jacob A. Smith also qualified as the Big 12 runner-up at 197 pounds, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. WVU has qualified 10 wrestlers to NCAAs in the Sammie Henson era.

Continuing on a 10-match win streak, Cottrell went 3-0 at 165 pounds at the 2017 Big 12 Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on March 4-5 to become West Virginia's first-ever Big 12 Champion. The Spencer, West Virginia, native defeated Iowa State's Logan Brietenbach in an 8-1 decision in the quarterfinals before topping North Dakota State's Andrew Fogarty, 11-4, in the semifinals to advance to the championship finals. Cottrell won a 5-4 decision over Oklahoma State's Chandler Rogers to win the title. It's his second career league title as he previously won the 149-pound Southern Conference title while a redshirt freshman at Appalachian State in 2014.

Both Cottrell and Smith qualified for their third straight NCAA Championships this season. Cottrell earned an automatic bid from the SoCon while at App. State in 2014, entering the tournament as the No. 12 seed. After transferring to WVU in 2015, he earned an automatic bid at 157 after taking third place at Big 12s in 2016. Smith earned at-large bids at 197 in both 2015 and 2016, and earned an automatic big this year.

As announced last week, Cottrell enters the tournament as the No. 8 seed at 165 pounds. He is the first Mountaineer to earn a top-10 seed since Kurt Brenner in 2009. Brenner received the No. 10 seed at 174 that season. He is WVU's highest-seeded wrestling since Brandon Rader in 2007. Rader entered the championship as the No. 7 seed at 141 pounds and earned All-America honors with a sixth-place finish. He is the third Mountaineer since 2009 to earn a seed as a top-16 wrestler at the event.

Cottrell will face Penn's Brooks Martino in the first round of action on Thursday. It is the first meeting of the two in 2017 and at 165 pounds, though they wrestled in 2016 at 157 pounds. Cottrell posted a 4-1 decision against Martino at the 2016 Southern Scuffle in January.

The two share a pair of common opponents in Binghamton’s Jake Einbinder, and Harvard’s Peter Bearse. Both scored bonus points against Einbinder, as Cottrell won a 19-2 tech. fall in 4:19 at the Pitt Duals, while Martino pinned Einbinder in 4:56. Cottrell pinned Bearse in 4:00, also at the Pitt Duals, while Martino scored an 18-3 tech. fall over Bearse in 5:07.

The Scottrade Center has been a lucky place for the Mountaineers. In 2015, then-true freshman Zeke Moisey defeated four ranked opponents on his way to the NCAA finals. He defeated No. 2 seed Nahshon Garrett of Cornell and pinned No. 6 Thomas Gilman of Iowa in the semis before dropping the 125-pound national championship match to Nathan Tomasello of Ohio State. Moisey became the first Mountaineer to earn All-America honors since Brandon Rader in 2007 and was the first WVU wrestler to earn a trip to the finals since Greg Jones in 2005.

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