The communication from WVU brought forth a smile.
Redshirt sophomore Noah Adams of the Mountaineer wrestling team finished the regular season on Sunday with a 29-0 record, even though West Virginia’s team lost to Big 12 affiliate Utah Valley at the Coliseum.
Adams, you see, is a spark for WVU coach Tim Flynn. A much-needed spark in a 4-12 overall (1-7 Big 12) Mountaineer season.
Flynn, now in his second season in Morgantown, built Edinboro into a national power before taking over the Mountaineer program. Now, obviously, he has much work to do.
Yet let’s take a look at that spark, one Flynn can now sell to recruits.
See, Adams is a state native, hailing from tiny Coal City (population 1,815), who attended Independence High in Raleigh County. He was a three-time high school champ.
Now he’s ranked No. 2 nationally in the 197-pound weight class, according to the NCAA Coaches Poll, InterMat and TheOpenMat. He became the first Mountaineer since three-time NCAA champ Greg Jones to complete the season undefeated.
Which should spur good memories if you’re a Mountaineer fan.
See, college wrestling was quite a hot topic in the Mountain State for a while.
Remember some of the teams turned out by Craig Turnbull? Remember assistant coach Nate Carr, a former Iowa State great who migrated to Morgantown and helped Turnbull?
While a Mountaineer coach, Carr made the Olympic team and wrestled in Seoul in 1988. He won over the Mountain State with his enthusiasm and charisma.
West Virginia intently watched as Carr was then robbed. A judge made an obvious scoring error and Carr settled for a bronze medal. But the folks here knew. He was embraced.
In the same Olympics, we also had one of our own wrestle. Ken Chertow, who hailed from Huntington High, starred at Penn State before making the U.S. team as a junior. Chertow didn’t earn an Olympic medal, but his journey was certainly one we followed.
And then there were WVU’s national champions.
I remember well. For I covered two of the championships.
The first Mountaineer to win a title was Scott Collins in 1991. And to this day, it remains one of the most thrilling events I’ve covered.
In the finals, Collins, wrestling in the 149-pound weight class, scored a takedown in the final 30 seconds to defeat Iowa’s Troy Steiner 8-7 on his home mat. I remember Scott helped with coverage sending “postcards” back we printed in Morgantown’s Dominion Post.
I also remember covering Dean Morrison’s title in 1994 at North Carolina’s Carmichael Arena. I remember joking with Turnbull that only when I traveled to the championships did a Mountaineer win a national title. (Jones would later obliterate the thought.)
Anyway, Morrison, a 177-pound wrestler, entered the NCAA Championships with a seven-match win streak and finished the tournament with five-straight wins. He was ranked No. 2 heading into the tournament and defeated three ranked opponents to make the finals. He then defeated Wyoming’s Reese Andy 3-2.
Jones later became one of the most successful college wrestlers of all time, winning three titles. He also became the first wrestler from the Eastern Wrestling League to ever win the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler title.
Oh, and remember too his brother Vertus was an excellent WVU wrestler.
“Greg was given advice often that ‘You should probably go somewhere else because you don’t want to be in the shadow of your brother (Vertus),’” Turnbull once said. “’How are you going to match what he accomplished? He won four EWL titles, was in the NCAA finals twice and was third the other time.’ I think having an older brother was a tremendous help.”
So forgive the smile over a wrestling spark.
See, the sport has given the Mountain State quite a few thrills.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.