WVU Downs Clarion in Regular-Season Finale

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    Matt Keller
    Matt Keller
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    In front of a program-record setting crowd of 4,517 Mountaineer fans, the West Virginia University wrestling team closed out the regular season with a 25-13 win over Clarion, on Sunday afternoon, at the WVU Coliseum.

    The Mountaineers (6-7, 4-4) won six of 10 matches to defeat the Golden Eagles (10-7, 4-2 EWL), using back-to-back pins at 125 and 133 pounds, respectively.

    Redshirt freshman Hunter Jones also picked up his first dual-match win of the season at 157 pounds, while true freshmen Nick Kiussis (165) and Brenden McRill (184) each notched a win by decision in their respective weight classes. Additionally, redshirt senior Jacob A. Smith (197) captured a bonus victory on his Senior Day.

    “This was a huge group effort,” said fourth-year coach Sammie Henson. “We have talked about this before, but this time, it was a total group effort. Our 157 pounder got a win for us. He got a win for himself and a win for George Washington High. It was pretty cool to see. He has been behind Zach Moore all year, and to have Hunter Jones go out there and get a win as a West Virginia native, we are proud of that. Of course, Jake got a win on Senior Day. Parker [VonEgidy] wrestled hard in his match. Overall, I thought we dominated, and that’s what we needed to do going into Big 12’s.”

    Redshirt junior Zeke Moisey, ranked 14th nationally, started the Mountaineers off with a victory at 125 pounds. The Northampton, Pennsylvania, native earned his team-leading 20th win of the season, pinning Clarion’s Gavin Park in 2 minutes, 17 seconds. He finished the regular season with a 9-3 dual record, winning five of his last six matches. The 125-pound wrestler also paced the Mountaineers with 41 match points and 28 takedowns on the year.

    Redshirt freshman Matthew Schmitt followed Moisey’s lead in the next bout, taking down Roshaun Cooley in 4:31 for his third pin of the season. Schmitt’s pin added six more points on the scoreboard, giving West Virginia the 12-0 advantage after two.

    However, the Golden Eagles cut their lead to six with back-to-back decisions at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively.

    Jones pushed the Mountaineers lead back to nine with his 3-1 decision in sudden victory over Mac Tanner at 157 pounds. After a scoreless three minutes of action, the Charleston, West Virginia, native earned a second-period escape for the 1-0 lead entering the final frame. Tanner opted to start on bottom in the third, forcing the match into overtime with an escape of his own. Jones did not back down though, using a takedown with 35 seconds left in the period to score his first dual-match win of the season.

    At 165 pounds, Kiussis collected an easy 5-0 decision over Max Wohlabaugh for his 13th win of the year. The Brunswick, Ohio, native claimed a first-period takedown and a second-period escape for a 3-0 lead into the final frame. Wohlabaugh was called for stalling twice in the third, adding another point for Kiussis, who also tacked on the riding time point at the end of the period for the 5-0 victory.

    Ahead 18-6 in team scoring, redshirt senior Parker VonEgidy dropped a hard-fought 7-4 decision to Dom Rigous. VonEgidy earned four near fall points in the second stanza to tie the match at 4-4, but it wasn’t enough, as Rigous tacked on two near fall points as well as the ride time point in the final frame for the 7-4 decision.

    McRill got the Mountaineers back on track, as he earned a 3-0 decision over Taylor Cahill at 184 pounds. Following a scoreless three minutes, McRill elected to start on bottom, earning the escape for the 1-0 lead heading into the final frame. Cahill then chose to start in the defensive position, but could not earn an escape of his own, as McRill rode him through the period to pick up his 10th victory of the season.

    Smith. Ranked 18th nationally, then made it two in a row for the Mountaineers, winning a 12-4 major decision over Dustin Conti at 197 pounds. The win marked Smith’s first bonus victory of the season, as he collected a pair of takedowns and four nearfall points in the match.

    Sophomore Brandon Ngati finished things off for the Mountaineers, as he dropped a 12-2 major decision to Clarion’s Toby Cahill. Despite the loss, West Virginia walked away with the 25-13 team victory.

    Of note, the Mountaineers honored their two seniors following today’s competition. Smith joined the Mountaineers in 2014 after starting his wrestling career at Cleveland State. A three-time NCAA qualifier, Smith will finish five action seasons with more than 85 wins. VonEgidy also became a Mountaineer in 2014 after spending one season at Missouri. The highlight of his career came last season, as he earned a fourth-place finish in the 184-pound bracket at the 2017 Big 12 Championship.

    After a week off, West Virginia heads to the 2017 Big 12 Championship on March 3-4. The event will be held at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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