WJU grapplers rally past Seton Hill

WHEELING — Wheeling Jesuit saved its best for last on Senior Night Friday as the Cardinals stormed back from a halftime deficit to post an impressive, 26-19, dual-meet triumph over Seton Hill inside the Alma Grace McDonough Center.

Trailing the visiting Griffins 13-8 at the break and 19-8 after six of 10 bouts, the third-ranked NCAA Division II Cardinals (14-3) emerged victorious in the final four matches for the win. WJU trails St. Cloud (Mn.) State and Nebraska-Kearney in the latest national listing.

“This was a good time coming back like that. Starting down wasn’t easy, but we told the guys at halftime to just chip away, chip away,” Wheeling Jesuit head coach Danny Irwin said. “We saw a lot of rolling around on the mat in the first five matches. We just needed to be more basic and score our points. It paid off for us.

“I was proud of the way our guys came back and competed in the back-half of the dual.”

Connor Craig, ranked fifth nationally at 174 pounds, jump-started the comeback with a 11-7 decision. The sophomore from Cincinnati Elder, scored six points in the third period, including a late takedown that secured the nod.

Classmate Aiden Pasiuk, a Carrollton grad, brought the crowd to its feet when he took down the Griffins’ Billy Bowlen and immediately put him on his back for the fall with 1.4 seconds showing on the first-period clock. The fall cut the deficit to 19-17.

“He’s capable of so much and just close to finding his rhythm,” Irwin pointed out. “He’s been in-and-out of the rankings, but it’s not of losses and wins. It’s because of politics. I’m excited to see him perform at regionals.”

Greg Brusco gave Wheeling Jesuit the lead for good at 21-19 when he posted a 11-2 major decision at 197. The junior was never threatened in leading wire-to-wire.

Defending D-II national champion Terrance Fanning, wrestling his final home match, made quick work of his opponent. The Bruceton Mills native led 16-2 after one period before recording a takedown for the 18-2 technical fall.”

“The things Terrance does are amazing,” Irwin said of the Cardinals only NCAA D-II national champion. “He’s just a special person. As good as he is on the mat, he’s even better off. He’s meant a ton to this program.”

Freshman Frankie Bonura gave the Cardinals a 5-0 advantage at the outset with a 17-1 technical fall at 125, but Seton Hill won three of the next four bouts for the halftime margin.

Senior Brandon Tenney also prevailed in his final home bout. He won 8-6 at 141.

“If he was our guy at (the East Super) regionals, he’d be seeded and looked on as one of the guys favored to go to nationals, but that’s part of being a great program. You’ve got guys that can step in and get the job down.”

Tenney was competing instead of sixth-ranked Jared Donahue, who sat out, as did top-ranked Tyler Warner (133) and injured Cole Laya (125) and Keegan Driscoll (157/165).

Former Wheeling Park standout Dylan Taylor dropped a tough, 14-11, decision at 157. The redshirt sophomore trailed big early and was on his back, but fought back to make a match of it. He sustained a cut above his right eye and required treatment following the match.

“That’s what we need,” Irwin said of Taylor’s determination to not get pinned. “That’s what we need to have from all 10 weights. That’s Dylan’s best 7 (minutes) yet”

The Cardinals are next in action Feb. 23 at the East Super Regional Tournament at West Liberty University.

Wheeling Jesuit 26, Seton Hill 19

125–Bonura (WJU) tf. Christie, 17-1; 133–Diltz (SH) p. Godinez, 0:58; 141–Tenney (WJU) d. Kenney, 8-6; 149–Au. Shaw (SH) md. Alberts, 11-3; 157–Al. Shaw (SH) d. Taylor, 14-11; 165–Willochell (SH) p. Rivera, 1:39; 174–Craig (WJU) d. Greenwald, 11-7; 184–Pasiuk (WJU) p. Bowlen, 2:58; 197–Brusco (WJU) md. Crouse, 11-2; 285–Fanning (WJU) tf. Beistel, 18-2