During what was supposed to be a weekend free from competition, a weekend reserved for wrestle-offs to sure up a few open weights, the West Virginia University wrestling team hit the road to take on Cleveland State in their first away dual of the 2021 season, coming away with a win after some late heroics.
WVU overcame a deficit to defeat Cleveland State, 18-15, in a thriller, on Saturday afternoon, at Woodling Gymnasium, in Cleveland, Ohio. After eight bouts the visiting Mountaineers found themselves trailing 15-13. To win the dual, WVU would need to win the final two bouts.
“We are excited for our first away meet,” third-year coach Tim Flynn said prior to the match. “It is an added match, so it is nice to get more competition in this shortened season, especially for this young team.”
No. 1 Noah Adams, a redshirt junior out of Coal City, West Virginia, remained unbeaten after an 8-2 decision over Ben Smith at 197 pounds for the one-point edge in team scoring. However, West Virginia was deducted a team point due to an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Adams for throwing his headgear. With that, the match was knotted at 15-all with only the heavyweight matchup left. The Mountaineers’ redshirt freshman Michael Wolfgram recorded a 6-3 decision win over John Kelby, sending WVU home with the win.
“Today made for a crazy, but exciting match,” Flynn said following the victory. “We got a lot of valuable mat time, and it was huge for Michael to come through with a victory for the team win.”
Redshirt junior Killian Cardinale started things off for the Mountaineers with a 9-1 major decision over Jake Manley at 125 pounds. Cardinale found his offense early, converting on three takedowns to put WVU on the board first en route to his first bonus-point victory of the season.
At 141 pounds, redshirt freshman Jeffrey Boyd got himself back into the win column with a 10-4 decision over Joseph Caprella. Boyd started on bottom to earn the escape, followed by a takedown for the 3-0 lead in the second period. Caprella eventually escaped, but Boyd tacked on another takedown, as well as a reversal, for the 7-3 advantage heading in the final frame. Caprella quickly escaped to cut his deficit to three, but Boyd tallied his third takedown of the match and added on the ride time point at the end of regulation for the 10-4 win, as WVU took a 7-3 team lead in the contest.
However, CSU fought back and won two consecutive matches at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively, for the 12-7 advantage at the midway point of the dual. WVU won four of the remaining five matches to capture the W.
First, freshman Peyton Hall tallied a decisive 8-2 decision over Riley Smucker at 165 pounds. Next, sophomore Scott Joll followed suit with a hard-fought, offense-laden 12-11 win over Anthony Rice. With the bout tied at 8-8 heading into final period, Rice decided to start in the defensive position and earn the escape. Joll registered a takedown to secure the ride time point, but Rice used a reversal with one second remaining to force sudden victory. Joll was awarded the win following a stall call on Rice in overtime, as WVU regained the match lead at 13-12.
Cleveland State then put the pressure on, scoring an 8-6 decision at 184 pounds for the 15-13 match lead. However, WVU earned wins five and six of the bout at 197 pounds and 285 pounds to earn its fourth team win of the season.
Before Saturday’s contest, the Mountaineers (3-2, 0-1) held a 25-10 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1979. When the two squads last met in 2012, WVU claimed a 36-6 victory in Cleveland. This match marks the first-ever matchup between the two as nonconference foes. WVU and CSU were long-time conference rivals, as the teams competed in the now-defunct Eastern Wrestling League for over 30 years.
Looking ahead, WVU (4-2, 0-1) will return home to compete against Big 12 affiliate Northern Colorado (3-0, 2-0) on Sunday, Jan. 31, at noon. Earlier this week, the Northern Colorado wrestling team paused all activities due to COVID-19 protocol. Due to the pause, the Bears’ dual against Oklahoma State on Friday was canceled.
West Virginia 18, Cleveland State 15
125: Killian Cardinale (WVU) major dec. Jake Manley (CSU), 9-1
133: Logan Heil (CSU) dec. Joey Thomas (WVU), 2-1
141: Jeffrey Boyd (WVU) dec. Joseph Caprella (CSU), 10-4
149: Marcus Robinson (CSU) dec. Brayden Roberts (WVU), 5-1
157: Daniel Patten (CSU) wins by fall Alex Hornfeck (WVU), F 4:56
165: Peyton Hall (WVU) dec. Riley Smucker (CSU), 8-2
174: Scott Joll (WVU) dec. Anthony Rice (CSU), 12-11 [SV-1]
184: DeAndre Nassar (CSU) dec. Anthony Carman (WVU), 8-6 [TB-1]
197: Noah Adams (WVU) dec. Ben Smith (CSU), 8-2
HWT: Michael Wolfgram (WVU) dec. John Kelbly (CSU), 6-3