WVU Grapplers Finish Second in EWL Tournament

After winning their second straight Eastern Wrestling League dual meet championship, the fifth ranked Mountaineer wrestlers were looking for back-to-back wins in the EWL tournament as well.

The Blue and Gold were confident that they could accomplish the feat. and the Mountaineers held the lead throughout the entire tournament, but their bid for the championship fell short in the final round as the Edinboro Fighting Scots captured their fifth tournament title in six years.

It was clear early in the tournament that the team championship would come down to Edinboro and West Virginia, as the two schools separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Going into the final session of the tournament, the two teams were locked in a tie with only the third place and championship rounds to go. It was sure to be an exciting finish for the fans who made their way into the WVU Coliseum.

West Virginia's Brandon Lauer (133) lost a 7-4 decision to Clarion's Rad Martinez to begin the third place round, but freshman Seth Lisa (125) scored a 5-3 decision over Clarion's Peter Derstine and senior Shane Cunanan (141) won an overtime ride-out to score a 2-1 decision over Pitt's Ron Tarquino to keep the Mountaineers on top. Edinboro had a numbers advantage in the third place round with five wrestlers compared to WVU's three but could only win one of those five matches and could not break away from the Blue and Gold. The Mountaineers held a two point advantage heading into the championship round, with both schools having five wrestlers in the finals. The championship was either team's to win.

The championship round started just the way Mountaineer fans were hoping with Edinboro's Jacob Gray (125) losing a 3-1 overtime decision to Cleveland State's Rocco Mansueto. The excitement, however, did not last long for the Mountaineers as Edinboro's Shawn Bunch pinned Cleveland State's Phil Mansueto, the brother of the aforementioned Rocco, to win the title at the 133 weight class. Next, Mike Maney of Lock Haven defaulted after a head injury to give Edinboro's Cory Ace the championship of the 141 class to give Edinboro the lead.

The Mountaineers looked toward Billy Smith in the 149 weight class to bring them back. Smith, as he often has, responded to the call by scoring a 3-1 overtime decision over Pitt's Justin Giovinco to tighten the race for the title. Freshman Matt Lebe was next to wrestle for the Mountaineers in the 157 weight class. Lebe, who was forced to wear a headgear because of a broken nose, was unable to pull off the upset over Bloomsburg's George Carter and dropped the match by an 11-5 decision, setting up the most important match of the night.

The 165 weight class featured an Edinboro and a West Virginia wrestler going head to head as Matt King took on West Virginia's Tom McMath. It was clear that the winner of this match would take a major step towards the team title. McMath seemed outmatched from the start and could never mount much of a fight as King scored the 6-2 decision to put the Fighting Scots in command. The Mountaineers were down, but certainly not out as Greg Jones (174) put his undefeated record on the line against Pitt's Carl Fronofer. Fronhofer battled until the end and even held a lead in the second period as Jones found himself in one of the toughest matches of the year. In the end, however, the sophomore was too much and Jones moved his record to 28-0 on the season and gave the Mountaineers a glimmer of hope.

Edinboro's David Shunamon made sure that those hopes were nothing more than that with a 5-2 decision over Lock Haven's Morgan Horner in the 197 weght class to seal the title for the Fighting Scots.

WVU's Brent Miller was defeated 3-1 by Clarion's John Testa for the heavyweight championship.

Edinboro tallied 129.5 points to outscore the Mountaineers' 123.5 total. The EWL's coaches added insult to injury by naming Edinboro's Shawn Bunch the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler over top ranked Greg Jones.

Fortunately, the evening was not entirely sour for the Blue and Gold as seven Mountaineers received automatic invitations to the National Tournament in Kansas City by finishing in the top three in the conference tournament, and two other received wild card berths. Seth Lisa (125), Shane Cunanan (141), Billy Smith (149), Matt Lebe (157), Tom McMath (165), Greg Jones (174), and Brett Miller (285) will all be making the trip as top three finishers, while Brandoun Lauer (133) and Ryan Wilman (184) received wild card berths. WVU will therefore be represneted in nine of the ten weight classes at the NCAAs.


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