LOCK HAVEN, Pa.— West Virginia was attempting to find its true team identity following the Mountaineers’ four-match losing streak that carried over nearly a full-month span between January and February.
Though the squad might not be all the way back to its top level yet, West Virginia was able to end its dual meet regular season on a high note by claiming three straight victories, capped off by a lopsided 34-9 win over Lock Haven on Sunday afternoon, the fourth-largest victory for the Mountaineers this year.
The Mountaineers finish their schedule with a 10-5 record, marking the first time West Virginia earned double-digit victories since 1988 and just the sixth time overall in program history. West Virginia concluded with an 8-0 mark in non-conference action and was 7-2 inside the WVU Coliseum.
After finishing with an even 3-3 tally on the road, West Virginia’s three wins away from Morgantown sets a new team-high for road victories under fifth-year head coach Tim Flynn, while marking just the second time the Mountaineers finished .500 or better as the visitors in Flynn’s tenure.
West Virginia improved to 5-1 all-time versus Lock Haven in the teams’ first meeting since 2015. The Mountaineers’ triumph gave the Bald Eagles (8-7, 5-1 Mid-American) their first home loss of the season after winning the first five in a row, as well as snapping a string of six straight wins.
The Mountaineers earned six team points before even stepping on the mat Sunday. Lock Haven’s Anthony Noto, who was ranked No. 11 at 125 pounds, was out due to injury. Noto’s backup, Matt Maloney, was then unable to make weight for the match, thus giving Colton Drousias a forfeit victory to start the meet.
Drousias was filling in for West Virginia starter Killian Cardinale, who sat out his third consecutive match. Cardinale will be set to return for the Big 12 Tournament, according to Flynn. West Virginia’s Davin Rhoads was also out of the lineup for the second time in the last three matches at 133 pounds.
Lock Haven’s Gable Strickland evened the score at 6-6 after pinning Jace Schafer in 4:28 at 133. Jordan Titus followed with a 6-0 decision over Zack Zeamer at 141 to put the Mountaineers back in front, but Nick Stonecheck edged Sam Hillegas 3-0 at 149 to re-tie the match at 9-9.
Following Hillegas’ defeat, West Virginia ran the table over the final six bouts.
At 157 pounds, Alex Hornfeck cruised by Ashton Eyler with an 11-0 major decision to start the string. No. 11 ranked Peyton Hall then pinned Aiden Gaugler in 1:41 at 165 before Scott Joll was awarded the Mountaineers’ second forfeit of the meet at 174.
Anthony Carman gave the Mountaineers the momentum for good in the 184 pound match. Trailing Colin Fegley 4-1 in the second period, Carman rallied to tie the score at 5-5, using a takedown with only 24 seconds remaining. Carman was then able to roll Fegley onto his back, getting four near-fall points with nine seconds left to seal the comeback win.
Austin Cooley snapped a five-match losing streak with a 10-3 decision over Cael Black at 197, and Mountaineers heavyweight Michael Wolfgram defeated Isaac Reid 6-4 to close the match.
Multiple West Virginia wrestlers will carry strong performances into the Big 12 Tournament.
Hornfeck has now won back-to-back matches following a three-bout skid. Titus holds a three-match win streak. Hall has been victorious in four straight meets and 10 of the last 11. Joll is currently tops on the Mountaineers with five consecutive victories.
The Mountaineers will be on a hiatus until the Big 12 Tournament begins on Saturday, March 4, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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