Sports granted access to compete Spring 2021

Chase Morgan at a wrestling meet

Spring 2021 sees sports return to the Hilltop after an almost year long hiatus due to COVID-19. This semester virtually all of West Liberty’s athletics teams are back in action with Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, and Wrestling already at the midway point of the season, volleyball at the start of their season and all other sports set to begin in the coming weeks.
After winning the MEC title last year, WLU’s Men’s Basketball currently holds a 5-3 record hitting the midway point of the 16-game season with an unusual three game losing streak before breaking the trend with a home win against Glenville State University. Head Coach Ben Howlett’s squad are aiming to recreate last year’s success and hold their position as Mountain East Champions.
The Women’s Basketball team are aiming to improve on their win to lose ratio from the 2019/2020 season (12-17). The Lady Toppers have won two of their eight games so far in their shortened season. At this halfway point, the Ladies will be looking to build on this in the second part of their MEC competition.
WLU’s Wrestling team entered the season with early success with several squad members gaining a national rank as well as the team gaining high praise across the country. West Liberty have won all four of their scored competitive meets and performed well in all others. “[The] season has gone really well up to this point considering all the variables that we have faced. We have high expectations of ourselves with one of them being to meet all challenges head on! We have done that on a consistent basis which has put us in position to finish on a high note,” said Head WrestlingCoach Daniel Irwin. With the MEC championship and National Qualifiers coming up, the team are heading towards a strong finish to the 2021 season. “We have been putting the work in to win both, but ultimately our goal is to be the last team presented with a NCAA Team Trophy in March!” said Irwin.
February adds Volleyball, Cross Country, Men’s Tennis, Men’s Soccer, and Women’s Soccer to the mix making this month an intense one for West Liberty Athletics.
Volleyball had their first competitive match on Tuesday away to Notre Dame in Ohio (please check Hilltopper Sports for the final score. The Lady Toppers are back in action again this Friday away to Alderson Broaddus University at 7 p.m. then have their first home fixture of 2021 on Tuesday, Feb 9 against Fairmont State University in the ASRC. In 2019, the squad held a record of 17-15 and qualified for the MEC Championship. This is the teams first go around with Riley Schenk taking the reins returning as Head Coach after aiding the Ladies in 2018 and 2019 as Graduate Assistant Coach under Kayla Mull.
Cross Country season starts on Feb. 13 in Louisville, Kentucky for the “Chille in the Ville” event. West Liberty’s cross-country runners have been pushing to improve personal bests over the last semester during the COVID-19 hiatus. The team have seen significant improvements across the board and are looking to hit the season with a flying start in just under two weeks’ time.
Men’s Tennis have their season debut on Feb. 20 with a few new additions to the squad. Four out of seven of the team hail from countries other than the United States including Germany, France, Uzbekistan, and Japan. Hilltopper Head Coach Ronald Hulewicz (who is also an education instructor at West Liberty) returns for his second season as head coach after his first was interrupted by the pandemic.
Both Men and Women’s soccer kick-off on Feb. 28. Head Coach Sean Regan’s Men head to last year’s conference winners University of Charleston for a challenging season opener. Regan said “We are very excited to get the season underway, it’s been a long 15 months since our last match and the boys are really looking forward to getting going… This is still a very young program and every day we are growing stronger as a squad, I’m really looking forward to watching the guys play and seeing the hard work pay off.” This will be Regan’s second season at the helm of the Men’s soccer program and the first year his recruits will have seen action. “We have a very talent freshman class backed by a solid group of returning players. Our goal for this season is to build on what we did in 2019. We finished above wheeling and Concord and if we can finish one place higher or get one more win then we have taken steps forward.”
West Liberty’s Women’s Soccer traveled up to the cold of Notre Dame College (Ohio) for their season opener who tied the Lady Toppers 0-0 in their last two meetings in 2019. Head Coach Barry Christmas’ team is looking to improve on the 2019 season and qualify for this year’s MEC tournament competition. The ladies will play eight games by April 16 including two matches against Ohio Valley Rivals, Wheeling University.
In March, Softball, Baseball, Acrobatics and Tumbling, Football and Golf all have their first competitions. The first 13 days of the month go by without a break in action for WLU Athletics as the various teams compete, hitting full flow in their respective seasons.
For a full schedule of events, head to Keep up to date with Trumpet for match previews and reviews as well as player profiles and interviews over the coming weeks as sports makes a full return to West Liberty life.