RENO, Nev. – The West Virginia University wrestling team came in fifth place at the Tournament of Champions at the Reno Events Center earlier today. The Mountaineers' 78.5 points came from the six wrestlers placing.
“It was a very valuable experience for us and a lot of people got a good amount of matches,”says coach Craig Turnbull. “Having a competition at the end of finals was very important to keep us focused and on weight. Placing six of ten in one of the nation's most premiere tournaments is a very good accomplishment.”
Senior Nathan Pennesi
(133) placed at the TOC for the fourth time in his career. The fourth-place finish is the third-best showing of his career in Reno. Pennesi's best finish came in 2010, where he finished in second.
“That is a heck of an accomplishment. It takes a lot of work to do this and wrestle all of those matches in one day,” Turnbull says. “It really shows how good he is and how diligent he is. He has to earn every point and match, and he consistently has done so.”
Pennesi opened the tournament with a pin over Everett Pratt of CSU Bakersfield. Pennesi would go on to win by fall in round three over Ty Stevenson of Boise State before losing to Devon Lotito of Cal Poly, 11-5. He won three matches in the consolation bracket before losing to Lotito once again, this time in the third-place bout, 5-1.
At heavyweight, sophomore A.J. Vizcarrondo
garnered fourth-place honors as well. Vizcarrondo won two matches before losing to Zach Merril, 7-0. In the consolation bracket, he won three-straight matches, including a 5-3 tiebreaker decision over teammate freshman Wayne Purnell, to advance into the third-place bout. Vizzcarondo fell to Merril once again, this time by a 14-0 major decision.
Sophomore Ross Renzi
battled to a fourth-place finish at 165 pounds after falling in the semifinals to the eventual champion, No. 7 Corey Mock of Chattanooga, 1-0.
Renzi reached the semifinals with three-straight decisions over Taylor West of Boise State, Adam Fierro, and Harrison Hightower of Ohio. After defeating Fierro for a second time in the consolation-bracket semifinals, Renzi dropped his final bout to Dakota Friesth of Wyoming, 3-1.
Freshman Cory Stainbrook
(125) earned a fifth-place finish, defeating Skylor Davis of Simon Fraser by major decision, 12-4. Stainbrook reached the quarterfinals before being knocked out of the championships bracket by No. 12 Tim Lambert of Nebraska, 4-1, who went on to finish second. Stainbrook won five matches on the day, two by major decision.
Sophomore Bubba Scheffel
(174) and Purnell each finished the tournament in sixth-place. Scheffel won his first two matches to reach the quarterfinals before falling to Kyle Crutchmer. This was the first trip of the season that Scheffel did not record a win by fall. He won four matches to improve his season record to 23-6.
Purnell won his first two matches, including a win by fall over Logan Hopp of Upper Iowa. He then dropped his final three bouts.
Eight WVU wrestlers reached the quarterfinals. Senior Colin Johnston
(141) and junior Mike Morales (149) both reached the round of eight before being knocked out of the consolation bracket.
Nebraska claimed the team title at the TOC with 159 points. Wyoming, North Carolina and Ohio rounded out the top four.
The Mountaineers (8-2, 0-1 Big 12) are back in action on Jan. 4 against Lock Haven at the WVU Coliseum. The dual match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.