Two Titles, Five Bids

The West Virginia University wrestling team earned two Eastern Wrestling League championships en route to a third place finish at the EWL Tournament on Saturday, March 8, at Fitzgerald Field House in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Mountaineers finished with 103.5 points and earned five automatic NCAA qualifying bids. They have two more at-large candidates in Zac Fryling (157) and Dustin Rogers (HWT) who could earn qualifying bids at the wild card selection after finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Junior Kurt Brenner (184) won his second career EWL title after defeating No. 19 Chris Honeycutt of Edinboro in an 11-7 decision. Brenner, who defeated his opponent for the second time this season, had a big second period in which he garnered five near fall points along with a takedown to pull ahead far enough for the victory. The No. 1 seed in the tournament qualified for his third straight NCAA tournament and looks to earn his first All-American honor.

Jared Villers (197) won his third EWL crown by decisioning Lock Haven's Ben Hepburn, 1-0. Villers qualified for his fourth NCAA Tournament earlier in the day after scoring a major decision over Clarion's Jamie Luckett, 10-1. The Akron, Ohio, native becomes the tenth four-time NCAA qualifier in WVU history and is also seeking his first All-American honor.

Chance Litton (174) earned his first NCAA bid but was defeated by No. 1 Keith Gavin of Pitt, 7-3. Litton scored the initial takedown but could not hang on after giving up 1:08 riding time. Litton went 2-1 in the tournament after defeating Mario Morelli of Clarion and No. 18 Phil Moricone of Edinboro.

First-time NCAA qualifier Donnie Jones (165) finished second after falling to Edinboro's Jarrod King in an 8-5 decision. Jones previously defeated Cleveland State's Marcus Effner in a 7-4 decision to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The sophomore gives the Mountaineers a representative at the 165-pound weight class after not having one during last season's NCAA Championships.

David Jauregui (149) earned second place after falling in the championship bout to Edinboro's Daryl Cocozzo. Jauregui was defeated in a 4-2 decision in pursuit of his first EWL title. He trimmed the deficit to 3-2 after recording a takedown in the second period, but could not muster any more points. The Santa Ana, Calif., native finishes the tournament with a 2-1 mark and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

Freshman Stephen Waite (141) finished the tournament strongly by pinning Darren Kern of Bloomsburg in 6:15, giving him third place. After falling behind in riding time during the first period, Waite scored on a reversal then rode his opponent throughout the third period until earning a pin fall.

The Mountaineers will wrap up their season with the NCAA Tournament on March 20-22 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Announcements of wild-card selections to the tournament, which could boost WVU's participation to seven, will come later this week.

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