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No. 20 West Virginia Wrestling Splits with Bucknell, No. 19 Oklahoma in Tri-Meet

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(photo via WVU Athletics)

The No. 20 West Virginia University wrestling team went 1-1 in a tri-meet Sunday at WVU Coliseum, with a dominant 29-3 victory against Bucknell and a 21-9 defeat against No. 19 Oklahoma.

The Mountaineers are now 3-2, 0-1 Big 12 on the year.

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“I thought we wrestled a little bit better in our first dual [today],” West Virginia head coach Tim Flynn said of his team’s match against Bucknell. “I think you found out that while Bucknell didn’t have a lot of ranked guys, they had some solid kids in there. We got in some good scraps and won some close matches.”

At the media availability session last week, Flynn expressed that although his 125-pounder No. 17 Killian Cardinale didn’t get the wins he wanted in his Mountaineers debut last weekend, he was close. If Cardinale was a little more aggressive on the offensive side of things, he would see a change in the end result, according to Flynn.

Cardinale certainly heeded his coach’s advice and it paid off as he earned his first win at WVU — an 11-8 decision that included multiple takedowns and a riding time point in Cardinale’s favor.

At 133, WVU’s Joey Thomas, a three-time Maryland high school state champ, batted to a narrow 4-3 double-overtime win to extend the West Virginia lead. Thomas was able to overcome a questionable stall point that was awarded to his Bucknell opponent Jakob Campbell in the final 30 seconds of regulation. The stall call sent the match to overtime. Thomas came away the victor in extras.

In what was a very “start-then-stop” type of match at 141, which saw two official reviews before the final frame, Mountaineers’ Jeffrey Boyd emerged victorious in an 8-6 decision over the Bison’s Kurt Phipps . This was the first match in which a WVU wrestler didn’t secure the first takedown in their individual match, but it didn’t matter. The Mountaineers were able to extend the team score to a 9-0 lead after three bouts.

WVU freshman Brayden Roberts got the nod at 149 for the second straight meet. The match wasn’t as offensively-driven as the preceding three were. Roberts was methodical but effective in his approach. In the end, he earned a 4-0 shutout decision. His fourth point was awarded for riding time. Roberts now has three career victories in just four attempts. He has prevented his opponent from scoring a point on two occasions this season.

The Mountaineers showed some roster depth at 157. Caleb Dowling, a freshman out of Port Royal, Pa., got the spot start for teammate Alex Hornfeck, who was out today. It was Downing’s first action in a dual meet as a collegian. He looked solid. Up 3-2 with under a less than 15 seconds left in the match, Downing got a takedown and also secured a point for riding time as well. Downing won the match 6-2.

The 165-pound bout lived up to the hype. It was the lone match to feature two ranked grapplers. WVU freshman, who his head coach has called a “budding star,” took two-time NCAA qualifier and top-10 ranked Zach Hartman to the wire. Hall dropped a close one after failing to convert on a pair of quality shot attempts. Hartman accrued over a minute and a half of riding time to add an extra insurance point. The loss is Hall’s first of his college career. In his first college dual on Jan. 10, the WVU middle-weight had 10 total takedowns and contributed 11 team points to the various team scores on the day.

As a team, WVU rallied after its lone defeat of the Bucknell match to win the remaining three matches.

At 174 pounds, in a battle of two Pennsylvania prep wrestlers, Scott Joll, got another individual match win for the Mountaineers thanks to a strong third period performance. Joll was on the winning end of a 9-6 decision. This is Joll’s third straight win after dropping his first match of the season last week against Kent State.

In the 184-pound bout, Bucknell was shorthanded after its projected starter suffered a season-ending injury the last time out. As a result, an undersized freshman, Sam Barnes, bumped up a weight class to wrestle WVU’s Anthony Carman. Barnes fought hard, but the home team secured at 4-2 decision. This is Carmen’s first dual win of the season

Next, the nation’s No.1 in the country at 197 pounds showed exactly why he is so highly-regarded in. Reigning 2020 Big 12 Champion, Noah Adams, recorded a dominant 17-1 technical fall in the third period. Bucknell’s Luke Niemeyer was only able to register one point via escape during the bout.

Then, a tightly-contested heavyweight bout went to WVU’s Michael Wolfgram, bringing the dual to a close. With that, WVU earned its third team win on the young season. The redshirt freshman needed three takedowns (one of which occurred at the buzzer) to come away with the 7-2 individual win and 29-3 team victory.

“He’s a pretty good wrestler, and he has a good feel,” Flynn said of Wolfgram’s ability to put up big point totals on offense. “He wrestles a little bit more like a lighter weight, he attacks the legs.  I think he’s gonna be more of an exciting heavyweight. He’s not gonna be a guy that’s just standing around.”

Results: West Virginia 29, Bucknell 3

125 | Killian Cadinale (WVU) dec. Brandon Seidman (Buck), 11-8 (WVU leads, 3-0)
133 | Joey Thomas dec. Jakob Campbell (Buck), 4-3 (SV2) (WVU leads 6-0)
141 | Jeffrey Boyd (WVU) dec. Kurt Phipps (Buck), 8-6 (WVU leads 9-0)
149 | Brayden Roberts (WVU) dec. Logan Sanom (Buck), 4-0 (WVU leads, 12-0)
157 | Caleb Dowling (WVU). dec. Nick Delp (Buck), 6-2 (WVU leads 15-0)
165 | Zach Hartman (Buck) dec. Peyton Hall (WVU), 5-2 (WVU leads, 15-3)
174 | Scott Joll (WVU) dec. Frankie Guida Jr. 9-6 (WVU leads, 18-3)
184 | Anthony Carman dec. Sam Barnes (Buck), 4-2, (WVU leads, 21-3)
197 | Noah Adams (WVU) dec. Luke Niemeyer (Buck), 17-1 (WVU leads, 26-3)
HWT | Michael Wolfgram (WVU) dec. Dorian Crosby (Buck), 7-2 (WVU wins, 29-3)

In match number two against ranked Big 12 foe Oklahoma, the Sooners got off to a commanding team lead after coming out on top in the first five individual bouts of the meet. Oklahoma went on to win seven of the 10 bouts overall.

In a defensive 125-pound match, it was tied 1-1 with less than 10 seconds left in regulation. Each wrestler had one escape each for the only points of the match. In a flurry in the final seconds, Oklahoma’s Mason Naifeh secured a takedown at the horn for a 3-1 win.

At 133 Oklahoma junior Tony Madrigal got a quick takedown of WVU’s Joey Thomas and then proceeded to dominate the WVU redshirt junior from the top position, ranking up more than three minutes of riding time. The Oklahoma grappler went on to win 4-1.

One of the nation’s very best at 141 pounds, No. 6 Dom Demas, showed why he’s a title-contender at the weight. The two-time All-American put on a takedown clinic against WVU freshman Boyd. The Mountaineer freshman fell 8-3.

WVU freshman Roberts, who faced a two-time NCAA qualifier and former ACC Freshman of the Year, Mitch Moore, didn’t seem intimidated. He took a tight match deep into the third period before ultimately falling 4-2 to Moore.

The Mountaineers decided to switch things up at 157 for the second straight match. Redshirt freshman Walker Heard was placed in the starting lineup to face reigning Big 12 Wrestler of the Week, Justin Thomas. Thomas looked dominant, winning 8-2.

After suffering his first college loss earlier today, Chester, West Virginia native, Peyton Hall, got back to his winning ways against a ranked OU wrestler in Jake Stiles. This was the second ranked grappler Hall faced today. Hall gave WVU its first win of the bout with a 2-1 decision. The deciding point came as a stalling point was awarded to Hall with under four seconds remaining in the bout.

Anthony Mantanona, a ranked sophomore wrestler out of California, who has 15 pins already in his 37 collegiate victories, was simply too much for WVU sophomore Scott Joll. Mantanona won 13-7 with more than two minutes of riding time. However, a takedown by Joll in the final seconds prevented Oklahoma from earning a bonus-point victory.

Searching for his second win of the day (and of the season), WVU’s Anthony Carman rose to the occasion in a high-scoring match at 184. He came out on top with a 7-6 decision, where riding time was a deciding factor.

At 197, Oklahoma’s Jake Woodley gave No. 1 Noah Adams all he could handle. Woodley, who had a 2-1 career record against Adams heading into tonight’s match took a 2-2 tie into the third period. Woodley gave Adams an optional start to begin the final period, shifting the score to 3-2 in favor of the Coal City, WV native. That escape point proved to be the difference in the match. Adams won 3-2. The series between these two upper-weights now sits at 2-2. This should be a fun individual rivalry to watch play out moving forward. Adams extended his personal winning-streak to 37 after adding two more wins today.

WVU’s Wolfgram fell 6-2 to Josh Heindselman of Oklahoma in the last bout. The Sooners got the best of the Mountaineers tonight, winning by a final score of 21-9.

“We’re getting better,” Flynn said after the Oklahoma match. “It doesn’t always show up in the box score, but I think the people who are watching can see the matches are more competitive. And, our guys are the ones attacking and our guys are the ones in better shape. We’re getting there.”

Results: Oklahoma 21, West Virginia 9

125 | Mason Naifeh (OU) dec. Killian Cardinale (WVU), 3-1 (OU leads, 3-0)
133 | Tony Madrigal (OU) dec. Joey Thomas (WVU), 4-1(OU leads 6-0)
141 | Dom Demas (OU) dec. Jeffrey Boyd (WVU), 8-3 (OU leads 9-0)
149 | Mitch Moore (OU) dec. Brayden Roberts (WVU), 4-2 (OU leads, 12-0)
157 | Justin Thomas (WVU) dec. Walker Heard (WVU), 8-2 (OU leads 15-0)
165 | Peyton Hall (WVU) dec. Jake Stiles (OU), 2-1 (OU leads, 15-3)
174 | Anthony Mantanona dec. Scott Joll (WVU) 13-7 (OU leads, 18-3)
184 | Anthony Carman (WVU) dec. Darrien Roberts (OU), 7-6, (OU leads, 18-6)
197 | Noah Adams (WVU) dec. Jake Woodley (OU), 3-2 (WVU leads, 18-9)
HWT | Josh Heindselman (OU) dec. Michael Wolfgram (WVU)), 6-2 (OU wins, 21-9)

Looking ahead, West Virginia will take a week off before competing against Big 12 affiliate Northern Colorado on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 12 p.m. ET, inside the WVU Coliseum. The match can be seen on Big 12 on ESPN+.

*All team ranking information is via the NWCA Coaches Poll and FloWrestling rankings, released Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 respectively.

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