Although having a disappointing finish to the season, the West Virginia wrestling team will be sending five members to the NCAA Championships this weekend at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
“I feel good about where they’re wrestling, obviously we’d like them to be seeded first… I think they’re all improving just from the top down,” said WVU head coach Tim Flynn.
Four of the five wrestlers set to compete at the NCAA Championships will be brand new faces to the big stage including redshirt senior Christian Monserrat, junior Brandon Ngati, redshirt freshman Noah Adams and sophomore Nick Kiussis.
Redshirt sophomore Matthew Schmitt will lead the Mountaineers experience wise as it will be his second Nationals appearance in his time at West Virginia.
Monserrat led the Mountaineers (4-14, 3-6 Big 12) in victories this season with an impressive 23-7 campaign, while also finishing 11-4 in Big 12 action and 7-5 in tournament wrestling.
The final at-large bid, Kiussis features an 18-10 overall mark including a 7-5 mark in Big 12 action.
The Brunswick, Ohio, native holds a trio of victories over InterMat’s Top 20 Poll teams this season, including a Dec. 29 drubbing of then-No. 18 Cam Coy of Virginia, 9-2.
Adams marked 18 total wins on the season for tied second place on the team with a 18-13 record and an astounding 10-3 finish in tournament play. The second-time NCAA Championship competitor, Schmitt finished the season with a 17-6 total mark while going 8-5 in Big 12 play and 8-2 in tournament action.
The 16 seeded Schmitt (17-6) is set to face off against 17-seed Sean Nickell of Cal State Bakersfield in the first round of action.
Monserrat (23-7), who comes in as a 17-seed in his weight class takes on No. 16 Davon Jeffries out of Oklahoma.
No. 29 Kiussis (18-10) will wrestle No. 4 Evan Wick of Wisconsin and No. 20 Adams (18-13) will compete with No. 13 Malik McDonald of NC State.
No. 33 Ngati (14-14) will wrestle against No. 32 Antonio Pelusi of Franklin and Marshall in the heavyweight class.
“They know what to expect, and we are wrestling the same kids we have been wrestling all year. We are fortunate enough to be in a really good conference. We are not going to see someone and say, ‘Wow, look at him.’ We have already seen all these guys, so I think that helps a little bit,” Flynn said.
The first round of the NCAA Championships will kick off on Thursday at noon and will be followed by the second round, quarterfinals, semifinals, fourth round and medal rounds on Friday and Saturday and will be broadcasted on ESPNU.