Gov. Joe Manchin got to see West Virginia University defeat the University of Washington in person at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse on Thursday night to witness as the team earned their way into the Elite Eight.
But on Saturday, as the Mountaineers tried to repeat history for the first time in 51 years for a trip to the Final Four, he had to settle for a television set and 30 to 40 guests who had attended an already-planned dinner at the Governor’s Mansion.
He still managed to see most of the game against the University of Kentucky Wildcats that landed WVU in the Final Four when the group retired to the third floor of the mansion to watch the game.
“It’s unbelievable,” Manchin said. “I can’t wait to be there” to watch WVU play next Saturday for a chance to play in the national championship game.
The dinner already had been planned and honored doctors, nurses and first-responders who had gone to Haiti to help in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake.
“One of the doctors was from over in Kentucky,” Manchin said. “They had their blue on. He was one who had gone with the West Virginia group. They were good sports. We had a good time.”
Manchin has spent time talking to the team members when he attends the various games.
“I spent so much time there,” he said. “I’ve spoken to them before the games and after the games. They truly are West Virginians. They understand what they mean to the state and what the state means to them. It’s someone who is determined, who works hard, who makes it happen and you don’t give up. That’s a West Virginian.”
Other notable area sports fans put in their 2 cents after watching WVU beat Kentucky, 73-66, in a game that saw the No. 2 seed Mountaineers dominate against the No. 1 Wildcats in both halves.