Wrestlers Face Tough Schedule

The Mountaineer wrestling team faces what could be its toughest schedule ever after finishing 13th in the nation last year.

Fortunately for WVU, the 2003 Mountaineer squad appears to be up to the challenge, with the projected starting lineup gathering numerous preseason rankings.

Headlining the squad is returning NCAA champion Greg Jones, who will attempt to defend his crown at 174 pounds. Jones, who is a unanimous number one preseason pick, is the third wrestler in WVU history to earn that distinction.

Here's a quick look at the wrestlers and their preseason rankings from Amateur Wrestling News, IntermatWrestle.com and The WrestlingMall.com:

                         AWN   Intermat  Wrestling
                               Wrestle     Mall
                         AWN    .com       .com
                         ---   --------   -----  
WVU Team                 9th    13th       11th
Brandon Lauer (133)     18th      NR       18th
Shane Cunanan (141)      5th     9th        5th
Billy Smith (149)       11th    11th       12th
Tom McMath (165)         6th     7th       11th
Greg Jones (174)         1st     1st        1st
Ryan Wilman (184)       19th      NR         HM
Adrian Thompson* (197)  19th    15th         NR
Brent Miller** (HWT)     9th     5th        7th

"(The preseason rankings are) a compliment to the people in our program and the work they did last year," head coach Craig Turnbull said. "We have a team that is very similar to our team last year that was very successful.

"I'm not so much concerned with our ranking but with our schedule. We could realistically see 15 or 16 of the top teams in the nation throughout the season. Our goal is to be prepared at the end of the season."

WVU schedule includes home dates with two of the top programs in the nation as well as the Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) tournament.

Iowa State, who finished second at the NCAA championships last season, will travel to Morgantown on January 4 to open the home dual schedule for WVU. The Mountaineers host Ohio State, who finished runner-up at the National Duals last season, on January 9. Perennial EWL power Edinboro pays a visit to the Coliseum on February 21.

The WVU Coliseum will also be the site for the 2003 EWL tournament. The two-day event will take place March 8 and 9.

The Mountaineers are slated to participate in the National Duals for the seventh time in the program's history on January 18 and 19, in Columbus, Ohio.

The Mountaineers will play host to the annual WVU Open on November 16, and will take part in the Navy Classic, the Las Vegas Invitational and the Midlands Tournament before beginning their dual slate.

Other home dates include matches with Virginia Tech and Cleveland State.

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