West Virginia's scoring started with a quick two-point takedown by Kyle Turnbull at 125 less than a minute into the first period. The Morgantown native was sharp and aggressive in his first-ever Coliseum appearance after two years lost to illness and injury. Halfway through the third round, Clarion's Jay Ivanco got Turnbull on his back, and into an awkward, if not dangerous, position, and the referee left him there far too long. The head coach's son was in obvious agony, finally calling out, but the official did nothing until WVU's mentor-in-chief spoke up. After a brief injury timeout and a careful assessment of the grappler's wounded knee, the match resumed and Turnbull was able to hold his 4-2 lead for the Mountaineers' first three points.
The University High School graduate was all smiles after his victory. "It's good to be on the Coliseum floor finally," Turnbull said. "I didn't wrestle as well as I would like but I got the win and that felt good. I waited a long time to be out there and so did my family."
At 133, WVU junior Jared Garvin held Golden Eagle Rob LaBrake to a stalemate until the last 12 seconds of the first period, when LaBrake put Clarion's first deuce on the board. The Clarion wrestler initiated an aggressive opening to the third period, but Garvin held on to avoid the pin, then responded with a takedown to tie the score at three, but LaBrake's extensive riding time early in that final period secured the win and tied the score at 3-3. That was to be Clarion's only points of the night.
True freshman Stephen Waite (141), wrestling in place of the injured Brandon Rader, faced Tony Lascari, the younger brother of Clarion's usual starter in this class, Sal Lascari. At the end of two periods, the score was tied at 2-2, but Waite held 49 seconds of riding time. It looked like Lascari would catch him, but then midway through the final period, Waite executed an impressive flip, landing Lascari on his back and holding on for a 4-2 win, his first in a Mountaineer uniform.
Two-time NCAA qualifier David Jauregui at 149 absolutely dominated Clarion sophomore Hadley Harrison with 58 seconds of riding time in the first two minutes of their match. Jauregui's superior speed and experience were evident in every second of their contest. All of Harrison's five points were gifts, when Jauregui, who obviously wanted to wrestle, turned him loose. With six seconds remaining, Harrison wilted to the mat, took a 30 second timeout, then gave himself over to the inevitable. Jauregui finished at 13-5, gaining the Mountaineers their first bonus points of the evening, and taking the score to 10-3.
"Jauregui likes to go hard. It's part of his nature. That was one of their better wrestlers, and he just shut him down with his intensity," his head coach said.
Jauregui was pleased with his performance. "I've been working harder this year, training extra. I got a little workout room set up in my house, like I had in high school. I lifted all summer, tried to keep up my quickness from the end of last season. I concentrated on little things over the summer and it looks like that's helping."
The 18th-ranked and fan favorite Zac Fryling wasted no time establishing his superiority over freshman Travis Uncapher of Clarion. There no sign that the three-time NCAA qualifier's wrist injury is hampering him. He continued the home team's assertive presentation, taking a quick 8-3 lead. Uncapher didn't give up easily, though, and battled back to 8-6 before Fryling put him away at 12-6.
After Clarion forfeited at 165, Parkersburg's Chance Litton entered the arena to face Mario Morelli at 174. In his junior season, the native West Virginian looks more confident, more comfortable, more poised. Litton also has better leg strength and control than he did this time last year. The curly-haired Morelli concluded the first round with a two-point gift from the zebra and the enmity of the home crowd, opening the second period with a 4-4 tie. A clearly uncomfortable Litton rode out the last few seconds of the middle period, then encouraged by a vocal crowd with a head of righteous indignation, opened the closing round aggressively. He persevered for a 6-4 victory, taking the Mountaineers to a 22-3 lead.
Kurt Brenner initially pounded opponent Scott Joseph at 184, taking a quick 6-2 lead. During a lengthy delay to correct the riding time tally and then to reset the clock, Brenner had some fingers taped, but within a few seconds of competition, the tape was on the floor next to the Clarion wrestler. With the score at 6-4, Joseph avoided a takedown by creeping out of bounds, then seemed to get a second wind and gave Brenner all he could handle for the second half of the match. Brenner was not to be denied, though, finishing with a 7-4 win.
WVU's 12th-ranked Jared Villers, in his senior season, faced Clarion junior Jamie Luckett. Their first round featured more annoying interruptions than wrestling. A tumble out of bounds tangled up Luckett's headgear, which was replaced by the referee under Villers' impatient glare. Halfway through the first round, Luckett accidentally poked Villers in the eye. The Mountaineer took a few minutes to collect himself, then Luckett apologized and the match continued. After a second headgear malfunction, Luckett donned a stretchy cap to hold his hair down, then donned his headgear yet again. Once the match truly got going, Villers showed the form that has taken him to two NCAA tournaments with an impressive takedown but the muscular Luckett tied up the score with two quick escapes. Villers responded with another takedown and some riding time. The relentless Villers wore his opponent down, eventually finishing with a major decision at 12-3.
Former juco heavyweight national champion Dustin Rogers plucked the final Eagle's feathers, pinning Roman Hussam in 39 seconds.
"We did a lot of things right tonight," head coach Craig Turnbull smiled, "but I saw some things we need to improve, too. The first home match was good to get them started. They had their game face on early and we were ready to wrestle. Some of our inexperienced guys got a good rhythm, wrestled pretty strong, and got some good wins."
The Mountaineers go to 4-3 on the season with a 29-3 victory over conference opponent Clarion.
125: Kyle Turnbull, WVU 4-2 dec. Jay Ivanco, Clarion
133: Rob LaBrake, Clarion, 4-3 dec. Jared Garvin , WVU
141: Stephen Waite, WVU, 4-2 dec. Sal Lascari, Clarion
149: David Jauregui, WVU, 13-5 maj. dec. Hadley Harrison, Clarion
157: #18 Zac Fryling, WVU, 12-6 dec. Travis Uncapher, Clarion
165: Donnie Jones, WVU win by Clarion forfeit
174: Chance Litton , WVU, 6-4 dec. Mario Morelli ,Clarion
184: Kurt Brenner, WVU, 7-4 dec. Scott Joseph, Clarion
197: #12 Jared Villers, WVU 12-3 maj. dec. Jamie Luckett , Clarion
HWT #17 Dustin Rogers, WVU, pin Roman Husam, Clarion
Final score: WVU 35, Clarion 3
This year's wrestling co-captains are NCAA qualifiers Zac Fryling, Dustin Rogers, and Jared Villers.
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Wrestling's going uptown. A live vocalist opened the evening's festivities by singing the "Star Spangled Banner." No more canned recordings for this team.
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The Mountaineers are sporting attractive new singlets this year, with a central dark blue panel and gold stripes down each side. Their new sweats are gray with blue shoulders and gold neck bands.
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Clarion's radio broadcaster clearly had seen WVU's Stephen Waite in action before. He spent the first round of Waite's match talking about the Mountaineer's distinguished high school career in Erie, Pa., which included three Pennsylvania state championships.
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Greg Jones is considerably more comfortable in his assistant coaching role this year. He's asserting himself, taking a substantially increased role.
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Tonight's crowd was one of the larger and more vocal in recent memory. Keep it up. The Mountaineers return to action tomorrow, Friday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. versus EWL foe Bloomsburg.