A week ago when Notre Dame College (Ohio) faced some of the top NCAA Division II wrestling programs in the country at the National Wrestling Coaches Association Dual Meets, junior Cobey Fehr sensed something special was going to happen.
“I knew from the moment we were warming up, we were going to win it just by looking to my left and my right and seeing the way everybody was carrying themselves,” Fehr said.
Notre Dame knocked off No. 1 ranked Maryville (Mo.) in the semifinals and then beat defending Division II wrestling champions, St. Cloud State (Minn.) in the championship.
Wrestling at 141 pounds, Fehr did his part to help the Falcons go 4-0 in the dual tournament. Fehr began the weekend with a 5-2 decision over Minnesota State-Mankato's Alphonso Vruno, and the Falcons won the meet by a score of 27-9. In his second match, Fehr picked up an important 18-10 major decision over Mercyhurst's Braden Flinn as the Falcons defeated the Lakers, 24-15.
In the semifinals, Fehr pulled out a 5-4 upset over top-seeded Nate Rodriguez, handing him his first loss of the season.
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Fehr finished the dual tournament with a 3:57 pin over St. Cloud State's Matt Nelson. Fehr's pin over Nelson scored six team points for the Falcons, and proved to be the difference as NDC defeated St. Cloud State, 21-15.
Fehr, though, was surprised what happened Wednesday. He was selected D2Wrestling.com National Wrestler of the week.
“It was an honor,” said Fehr, who is from Barberton, Ohio. “I have been working real hard this year, but we have dudes on our team who have been doing this for three years who haven’t received this award.
“Honestly, I can’t believe (senior) Joey Davis has never won it. Joey is 120-0. I’m just some little country kid who stepped in the lineup this year. They have my face all over the place. They are making me look good.”
Fehr said it took a complete effort from the Falcons to win the dual tournament. He points to the performance of freshman Juwon Edmonds as another reason why the team did well last weekend.
“Juwon Edmonds beat the No. 3 guy and Edmonds is 18 years old,” Fehr said. “He is fresh out of the package. He just got here and beat a guy like that.
“All across the board, everybody did their job. I know we are going to meet Maryville one more time. We will be ready for it. We know they will be pretty angry.”
Fehr said the team chemistry is strong this year.
“We have a lot of fun, a bunch of different characters on the team,” Fehr said. “Joey Davis is one of the most humble, respectful person I have met in my life. Garrett Lineberger, is respectful. He will do anything for me and I would do anything for him.
“Our team has really come together this year. That is the difference between this year and last year. We all got each other’s back and we have bought in. It is an honor to be a part of it.”
West Liberty men’s basketball still putting up points and winning
The No. 1 ranked, high-scoring West Liberty (W.Va.) Hilltoppers went into halftime Saturday afternoon at University of Virginia’s College at Wise with 36 points.
West Liberty men’s basketball team was getting Wise’s best effort.
“We definitely have a target on our backs,” West Liberty coach Jim Crutchfield said. “There is no doubt about that. Wise (officials) said it was the biggest crowd they ever had. The pep band is there; the fans are excited. They are up for the game.”
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It didn’t matter that Wise in near the bottom of the Mountain East Conference and West Liberty is in first place and seeking its third straight MEC title.
Crutchfield pointed out a couple of instances already in which mid-level teams in the MEC challenged top tier teams like Fairmont, ranked No. 3 in the coaches poll and Wheeling Jesuit, ranked No. 24. Both Fairmont and Wheeling Jesuit just have one loss apiece.
So Crutchfield wasn’t surprised by what he saw from Wise in the first half, and Wise was probably thrilled it held the Hilltoppers, who average 106 points per game, to 36 in the first half.
But the Hilltoppers are more than a scoring machine. They went into halftime still holding a seven-point lead and then they exploded for 63 in the second half for a 99-69 victory.
“We did not have a good shooting first half,” Crutchfield said. “I thought defensively, we played pretty well. We forced turnovers.
“In the second, we did catch fire. We don’t want to be a team that depends on shooting the ball well to win. Today was a good case when we didn’t shoot the ball well, but we were still ahead. Once we made some shots, we extended the lead.”
West Liberty just missed scoring 100 or more points for the 10th time this season. Earlier last week, West Liberty scored only 67 in its 13-point win against West Virginia Wesleyan.
The amount of points the Hilltoppers score doesn’t concern Crutchfield as long his team scores more than the other. West Liberty has done that every time it has stepped on the court so far this season, going 15-0 overall and 9-0 in the MEC.
“In my 12 years here I have never mentioned we need to score an x amount of points or we need to get the ball back quickly and we need to get a shot off quickly,” Crutchfield said. “We are just trying to outscore the other team.
“Our style is pretty aggressive on both ends of the court. We are pretty aggressive defensively and we are pretty aggressive offensively. We don’t spend a lot of time with the ball looking to score. The high scoring is just a by-product of that.”
It has been a highly successful style. The Hilltoppers have reached their regional championship game the last six years and four of those years they advanced to the Elite Eight.
Crutchfield said he never talks to his players about the tradition of winning conference titles and reaching the NCAA Division II tournament.
“We have had enough success that our players, I hate to say, expect to be there,” Crutchfield said. “I don’t want to take that for granted. I think it is really special to get to regional play and face other great teams and have a chance to get in the Elite Eight or Final Four or championship game.
“Our guys probably talk about it some, but they never hear it from me and until we are there. I really try to maintain focus on the game in front of you and don’t ever start looking ahead to conference tournaments or regional championships. You got to win the one ahead of you.”
And what is next for the Hilltoppers is a road game Monday at Concord University in Athens, W. Va. Concord is 10-5 overall. On Thursday, West Liberty concludes three straight road games at rival Wheeling Jesuit, 15-1 and 8-1.
The Hilltoppers return home Saturday for a game against Notre Dame College. The two teams met on Nov. 21 in the conference opener for West Liberty. The Hilltoppers needed overtime to win 106-103 at Notre Dame College.
“The toughest part of our schedule is right in front of us,” Crutchfield said.
The Hilltoppers are going to get everybody’s best shot. Crutchfield wants his players to embrace that challenge.
“Our guys have to realize if we lower our guard at all, we are going to get smacked in the face,” Crutchfield said. “We have to be ready for every single game. This league is really good. It is something you have to learn to enjoy. It is a good situation to be in.”