February 14, 2011

Vikings Conclude Regular Season At West Virginia

Feb. 14, 2011

Contact: Dan Carr

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SETTING THE SCENE: The Viking wrestling team will close out their 2010-11 regular season with a meet at West Virginia on Saturday (Feb. 19) at 7:00 p.m. Cleveland State is 3-12 overall and 0-5 in the Eastern Wrestling League after dropping back-to-back league meets last weekend while West Virginia enters the week tied for second in the conference with a 3-1 mark and an 8-5 overall record.

LAST TIME ON THE MAT: The Vikings were in action twice last weekend, falling in a 41-3 decision at Pittsburgh on Friday (Feb. 11) and losing, 30-10, to Clarion on Saturday (Feb. 12). Aric Thurn (wrestling at 174), Josh Palivoda (141) and Nick Flannery (133) each won against Clarion, with Flannery's victory being a 9-0 major decision. Robbie Michaels was CSU's only winner against Pittsburgh, defeating the Panthers' Ethan Headlee in a 4-3 decision.

PREVIEWING THE VIKINGS: A strong mixture of experienced veterans and talented newcomers have led the Vikings this season. Senior Robbie Michaels (wrestling at 165) has emerged as one of the top grapplers in the Eastern Wrestling League, having won two open titles and 20 matches this season. Junior Lawrence Cavello (149) has 12 wins on the season while fellow junior Josh Palivoda (141) and sophomore Aric Thurn (174) each have five dual meet victories. A trio of true freshmen have had a big impact: Matt Donohoe (157, 12 wins) has pinned three opponents while Nick Flannery (133, 12 wins) and Ben Willeford (125, 10 wins) lead the team with four major decisions apiece.

CSU ALL-TIME VS. WEST VIRGINIA: This will be the 33rd meeting between the Mountaineers and the Vikings, with West Virginia owning a 22-10 advantage in the series. The teams first wrestled in the 1978-79 season, with CSU winning, 30-12. The Vikings would go on to win the next four meetings, but West Virginia has since dominated the series, including winning in each of the last nine years.

ROBBIE IN THE RPI: The NCAA released its first individual RPI of the season on Feb. 6, and Robbie Michaels has made the cut, being ranked 32nd in the 165 class. Michaels has 20 wins in the year, including a 4-1 record in EWL dual meets.

...AND THE COACHES LIKE HIM: Michaels has also broken into the NCAA Division I Coaches Panel Rankings, the latest of which were released on Feb. 8. Michaels ranks 33rd in the 165 weight class.

MICHAELS' LAST MEET: Robbie Michaels, the lone senior on this year's squad, will be wrestling in his final dual meet when the Vikings travel to West Virginia on Saturday night. Michaels has won 76 matches as a Viking and has never finished a season with a losing record. He became the first Viking in more than a decade to win multiple opens in a season when he won the 165 divisions at the Eastern Michigan Open and the Michigan State Open earlier this year. Michaels was named the team's Most Outstanding Freshman in 2007-08.

DUAL MEET SUCCESS: Eleven different wrestlers have won matches in dual meets this season. This is a step up from last year, when only nine Vikings recorded dual meet victories. A Viking has won a match at every weight class this year, with two CSU wrestlers winning at 197. The most noticeable improvement has been at 133, the one weight class in which Cleveland State failed to win a dual meet last season. This year's starter at 133, Nick Flannery, has won four dual meet matches, including one by pin and one by major decision.

DOUBLE DIGIT VICTORIES: Six CSU wrestlers have at least 10 wins on the season, surpassing the number of Vikings who accomplished that feat last season (four). Brandon Sommers leads the team with 21 victories, while Robbie Michaels has posted 20 wins. Lawrence Cavello, Nick Flannery and Matt Donohoe each have 12 wins. Ben Willeford rounds off the group, having won 10 matches this year.

AMONG THE BEST IN THE EWL: Cleveland State is well represented in the current EWL individual win standings. The highest ranked Viking is Brandon Sommers (21-12 on the season), who leads the 149 division in wins. Robbie Michaels (20-7) has the fourth most victories in the 165 class. Matt Donohoe is eighth at 157 with 12 wins, while Ben Willeford (10 wins) is sixth in the 125 class.

PIN IT TO WIN IT: After recording only 11 pins last year, the Vikings have nearly doubled that total, winning 21 matches by fall this season. Robbie Michaels and Lawrence Cavello lead the team with four pins each while Matt Donohoe and Brandon Sommers each have three apiece.

NEXT UP: With the regular season concluded, the Vikings will have two weeks to prepare for the Eastern Wrestling League Championships, which will be held in Bloomsburg, Pa. on Sunday, March 6 beginning at 8:00 a.m.

THE HEAD COACH
Ben Stehura (Lock Haven '00)
AT CSU: 9-42 (3rd year)
OVERALL: 35-92-1 (7th year)

Ben Stehura is in his third season as the head coach of the Viking wrestling program, and has recruited a talented group of young wrestlers that expects to make noise in the Eastern Wrestling League this year. He has coached an NCAA national champion, three NCAA All-Americans and six NCAA National Qualifiers in his seven seasons as a head coach.

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