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No. 12 WLU Wrestlers Sweep Urbana, Fairmont State

WEST LIBERTY — The No. 12-ranked West Liberty University wrestling team breezed to convincing victories against Mountain East Conference foes Fairmont State and Urbana Sunday during an afternoon triangular at the ASRC.

Coach Danny Irwin’s Hilltoppers rolled to a 39-8 victory against Urbana and closed out the meet with a 40-6 win against Fairmont State. Urbana defeated Fairmont State, 22-13, in the first match of the day.

Coming less than 48 hours after Friday night’s hard-fought road loss at No. 3-ranked Notre Dame (Ohio), Irwin was pleased with the way his team handled the quick turnaround while never losing sight of the ultimate goal.

“We got what we wanted out of (Sunday’s) matches,” Irwin said. “We saw several of our wrestlers continue to take positive steps forward but we need to keep working on consistency and focus with each and every guy. That’s really what makes the difference in getting guys to nationals.”

West Liberty jumped out to quick early leads in each match and was never threatened.

Starting off with a 6-0 lead against Urbana after a forfeit at 125, the Hilltoppers got a technical fall from Tommy Curtin at 133, a decision from Jacob Simpson at 141 and a major decision from Jamie Ward at 149 to build an 18-0 advantage before the Blue Knights got on the board.

Urbana avoided the shutout with wins at 157 and 184 but first-period falls from West Liberty’s Chance Morgan (174) and Ronnie D’Amico (197) helped the hosts open up a 33-8 lead before 285-pounder Chris Cook brought down the curtain with a third-period fall against Urbana’s Nick Baker.

D’Amico and Cook have been good examples of the “next man up” philosophy the Hilltoppers have been forced to employ due to a rash of injuries and illness.

D’Amico had originally planned to redshirt but returned to the mat when senior All-American Logan Kemp had season-ending surgery. Cook, who lettered at 184 the past two seasons, has been wrestling up at 285 since starter Francesco Borsellino was lost to season-ending surgery last month.

The Hilltoppers also came roaring out of the blocks in the finale against Fairmont State’s first-year program. Jump started by another forfeit win at 125, Curtin padded the lead with a major decision at 133 and Simpson continued his impressive freshman season with a first-period fall at 141 for a 14-0 WLU lead.

Irwin pointed out that Simpson and junior 125-pounder Corey Secrist have also been coming up big for the Hilltoppers with returning All-Americans Cole Laya (125) and Darius Bunch (141) still sidelined by injuries.

“Jacob might be the utmost worker on the team as a freshman,” Irwin said. “He does all the right things in and out of the room. He does extra cardio, strength work and Corey’s the same way. When it comes to work ethic and reliability, you couldn’t ask for two better teammates.”

The Falcons wrapped decisions at 149 and 165 around another forfeit loss at 157 to make it 20-6 but West Liberty swept the final four weight classes to win going away.

Chance Morgan cruised to a 6-1 decision against Tucker Lawson at 174 and a forfeit at 184 pushed the WLU lead to 29-6. D’Amico capped a strong showing with his second first-period fall of the day, stopping FSU’s John Halajian at 2:24 of their 197-pound match, and Cook coasted to a 9-3 win against T.J. Boyd at 285 in the final match of the day.

The Hilltoppers won’t hit the mat again until Feb. 1 when they host the inaugural Mountain East Conference championships at the ASRC.

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