Ranking The Programs: #14

Ranking The Programs: #14

Three panelists had our #14 program slotted in exactly that spot, but a fourth had it several notches higher in the first significant disagreement in the rankings of West Virginia University's athletic programs.

Greg's 10th place vote for the wrestling program gave it a significant edge over the 15th and 16th place entries in our evaluations, but it wasn't enough to move it out of the 14th place overall. In the eyes of our other panelists, recent events held stronger weight than some of the individual accomplishments of a couple of years ago, as did the whitewash and the hands of Big 12 competitors over the past two years.

Again, though, hope springs anew with the hire of head coach Sammie Henson, who has a background in the Big 12. Will he be able to pull recruits not only from West Virginia's traditional areas, but also from the league's traditional footprint, a la Mountaineer baseball head coach Randy Mazey?

WRESTLING
PROGRAM
VOTER
RANKING
POINTS
WRESTLING
Greg
10th
7
WRESTLING
Matt
14th
3
WRESTLING
Michael
14th
3
WRESTLING
Kevin
14th
3

Greg Hunter: (10th) West Virginia's wrestling program has fallen on some hard times as of late (13-20 combined the last two seasons), which led to the unceremonious dismissal of veteran head coach Craig Turnbull this spring. But it wasn't that long ago that West Virginia's program was a regular in the top 25. The Mountaineers finished in the top 25 as a team at the NCAA championships 12 times from 1988 to 2005, with a high of sixth in 1991. West Virginia has produced 29 All-Americans, and Scott Collins (1991), Dean Morrison (1994) and Greg Jones (2002, 2004 and 2005) each won individual NCAA titles. Its practice facilities are fine, and its recruiting nucleus of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia produces enough quality wrestlers to return WVU to past glory. The only problem for the Mountaineers would be tough opposition they face in the Big 12. WVU's old conference, the Eastern Wrestling League, had some solid wrestling program, but nothing like the Big 12, which features just three others that have wrestling teams (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Iowa State). That trio, however is among the nation's best.

Matt Keller: (14th) Wrestling heads the lowest tier of the three programs at the bottom of the rankings, and beats out rowing and women's tennis because of its ability to qualify five for the NCAA Tournament (where it finished an abysmal 61st), as well as its 22-21 dual meet victory over No. 25 Indiana. The other teams didn't come close to defeating a top 25 opponent, but it should be noted with the recruiting abilities, facilities and history, wrestling was by far the most underachieving program – it simply wasn't the worst performing overall.

Michael Carvelli: (14th) The Mountaineers' win total improved this season, even though it was against a weaker schedule, but new coach Sammie Henson is going to bring the new life to this program that it has needed over the course of the last few seasons. While it might take some time to get there, the WVU wrestling program will steadily begin to rise in the next few seasons while it competes against some of the best teams and wrestlers in the country.

Kevin Kinder: (14th) The wrestling program's very good history was overcome by poor recruiting, injuries and poorer performances over the past few years. A small number of individual grapplers did shine, but not enough to compare with other sports where both individual and team results come into play. The Mountaineers lost to its three Big 12 foes in dual meets by a combined score of 71-33, and had no champions and just one second-place finisher at the league tournament.

WVU ATHLETIC PROGRAM RANKINGS
PROGRAM
RANKINGS
POINTS
SCORE
WRESTLING
10/14/14/14
16
4
W ROWING
15/15/16/15
7
1.75
W TENNIS
16/16/15/16
5
1.25

Previous Stories:

Rowing #15
Women's Tennis #16
Rankings Introduction

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