Wrestling: WVU Prepares For Trip to Las Vegas

  • By Brian Kuppelweiser
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  • December 01, 2011 04:37 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – In its first of two West Coast road trips this season, the West Virginia wrestling team will travel to Las Vegas for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, which will take place on Dec. 2-3.

The road trip will mark the beginning of three straight weekends of stiff competition that will help prepare the Mountaineers for the grind of the Eastern Wrestling League season.

“There are three premiere tournaments in the country prior to the NCAA Championships, and this is definitely one of them,” says coach Craig Turnbull. “This tournament allows us to see a diverse cross section of the country that we do not normally see in our dual meet schedule, and it allows us to develop our team further. It will be a level up to some degree, but it is a progression that works for the team and is a great evaluator for the coaching staff.”

In the buildup to the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, the Mountaineers are coming off of a strong performance at the Navy Classic in which seven grapplers placed.

Highlighting the team’s success was junior Shane Young (125) and redshirt sophomore Nathan Pennesi (141), who each placed first at the Navy Classic. In addition, each carries a 9-0 record heading into the weekend.

“Our guys need to prepare for each individual match exactly the same way,” Turnbull says. “Hopefully they carry that through to each time that they go out on the mat they need to put forth their best wrestling.”

At the 184-pound weight class and at heavyweight, WVU will welcome redshirt seniors Matt Ryan and Brandon Williamson back to the mat. Ryan missed both the Washington & Jefferson Tournament and the Navy Classic, while Williamson sat out the Navy Classic.

“With both Matt and Brandon, we have tried to use the beginning of the season intelligently in regards to their health,” Turnbull says. “We will have to read the tournament and see if they will go part of the tournament or the full tournament. They need to get a couple matches under their belts before we head to Penn State.”

Freshman Jesse Schiffbauer, who is a Morgantown, W. Va., native, will get a chance to build on the success that he had after placing third at the Washington & Jefferson Tournament. Schiffbauer is 5-1 this season and will have a chance to wrestle some of the best opponents that the 133-pound weight class has to offer.

“This should be really exciting for him,” Turnbull says. “He is such a competitor, and he is committed to being the best wrestler he can be. It will be good to see how he manages the emotions. A tournament is easier to step into than a dual meet because there are so many matches going on around you. It will be a fun and valuable experience for him.”

Action at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, which will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is set to begin at 9 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday morning.

Updates from the tournament will be available on MSNsportsNET.com after the completion of each day’s competition.


WVU Wrestling, West Virginia Mountaineers, NCAA Wrestling