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What to Watch for During WVU’s Trio of Big 12 Wrestling Matches on Saturday



(photo via WVU Athletics)

Only during the wildly unpredictable season that is college wrestling in 2021 would one team have a trio of conference matches in a single Saturday that happen across two different states.

This is the strange reality for the West Virginia University wrestling.  First, InterMat’s No. 20 dual meet team, WVU, will battle the Wyoming Cowboys in Laramie, Wyoming at noon ET. Then, following its match against the Cowboys, WVU travels to Greeley, Colorado, for a pair of neutral-site matches against Air Force (8:00 p.m. ET) and Fresno State (9:30 p.m. ET) later that evening. Mountaineer fans can catch all three matches live via FloWrestling.

Felix Wrestling Academy

Graphic courtesy of WVU Athletics.

Last weekend the Cowboys picked up their second dual win of the season with a 22-9 victory of conference opponent Air Force. Stephen Buchanan helped Wyoming to pull away in the dual having the only bonus point win on the night with a 16-3 major decision over Kayne Hutchinson (AF). Job Greenwood ended the dual on a high point for the Cowboys upsetting No.15 Jared Van Vleet with a last second takedown. On the year, Wyoming sits at 2-2, 1-1 Big 12.

As for the Mountaineers, they bring  a 5-2 record on the season and a 1-1 record in the Big 12 conference record to Laramie, their latest win being a 25-11 victory over a ranked Northern Colorado group last weekend. When the Cowboys and Mountaineers met last season in Morgantown, West Virginia walked away with a very tight 17-16 victory. The Old Gold and Blue will bring four ranked Mountaineers to the dual: Killian Cardinale (125), Jeffrey Boyd (141), Peyton Hall (165), and Noah Adams (197).

Probable Wyoming Matchups:

Wyoming vs West Virginia

125- Brendon Garcia (3-9) vs. No.22 Killian Cardinale (4-3)

133- No.15 Job Greenwood (7-2) vs. Ryan Sullivan (2-1)

141- Chase Zollmann (5-2) vs. No.32 Jeffrey Boyd (5-2)

149- Jaron Jensen (0-5) vs. Brayden Roberts (3-4)

157- No.17 Jacob Wright (7-2) vs. Alex Hornfeck (3-2)

165- No.22 Cole Moody (10-1) vs. No.23 Peyton Hall (6-1)

174- No.9 Hayden Hastings (6-1) vs. Scot Joll (4-3)

184- No.18 Tate Samuelson vs. Jackson Moomua (2-1)

197- No.14 Stephen Buchanan vs. No.1 Noah Adams (7-0)

285- N0.13 Brian Andrews (4-3) vs. Michael Wolfgram (5-2)

With respect to the Fresno State Bulldogs, their duals represent the extension of a lengthy road trip for the ‘Dogs. The Big 12 foe will bring two ‘Dogs that remain undefeated on the year, both of whom wrestle in the 141 pound weight class: DJ Lloren (7-0) and Kyle Parco (6-0). Historically speaking, the Bulldogs are 2-2 all-time against Air Force, while this will be this is the first meeting with West Virginia. The ‘Dogs are 0-3 in duals and 0-1 in the Big 12 this year.

Probable Freson State Matchups:

Fresno State vs. West Virginia

125: Anthony Molton, RFr. (1-3) vs No.22 Killian Cardinale (4-3)

133: Haiden Drury, Fr. (6-2) OR Brandon Betancourt, RSr. (0-0) vs. Ryan Sullivan (2-1)

141: No. 13/13/15 DJ Lloren, RSr. (7-0) OR Kyle Parco, RFr. (6-0) vs. No. 32 Jeffrey Boyd (5-2)

149: Anthony Federico, Fr. (2-2) OR Aaron Gandara, Fr. (2-2) vs. Brayden Roberts (3-4)

157: Chris Gaxiola, Jr. (0-3) vs. vs. Alex Hornfeck (3-2)

165: Open vs.  No.23 vs. Peyton Hall (6-1)

174: Zack Gonzalez, RJr. (0-2) vs. Scot Joll (4-3)

184: Open vs. Jackson Moomua (2-1)

197: Nick Villarreal, Fr. (0-3) vs. No. 1 Noah Adams (7-0)

HWT: Randy Gonzalez, Jr. (0-5) vs. Michael Wolfgram (5-2)

Moving on the the final match of the day, Saturday will be just the second all-time meeting on the mat for AF against WVU,
with the inaugural meeting coming in 2018, Air Force’s third season in the Big 12. The Mountaineers came out on top, 19-18, via criteria. The deciding factor on the winner came down to the third criteria, total match points, in which the Mountaineers outscored the Falcons, 28-27.

In regards to ranked wrestlers, Air Force will be showing up with some fire power of its own. The Falcons have a veteran-laden roster,  returning nine of the 10 primary starters from a season ago, as well as 15 wrestlers who have experience as a starter in a Big 12 dual. Similarly, the Service Academy brings back all four placewinners from the the 2020 Big 12 tournament from a season ago also return in Cody Phippen (125), Lenny Petersen (141), Cody Surratt (174), and Jake Thompson (184). However, not all of these four are expected to be action against WVU this weekend.

Probable Air Force Matchups:

Air Force vs. West Virginia

125: No. -/-/27 Cody Phippen, So. (3-1) vs. No.22 Killian Cardinale (4-3)

133: No. 17/-/16 Jared Van Vleet, Jr. (3-1) vs. Ryan Sullivan (2-1)

141: Bradley Bitting, Jr. (0-4) vs. No. 32 Jeffrey Boyd (5-2)

149: Dylan Martinez, So. (2-2) vs. Brayden Roberts (3-4)

157: Parker Simington, Sr. (1-3) vs. Alex Hornfeck (3-2)

165: Vincent Dolce, Jr. (0-2) vs. No. 23 Peyton Hall (6-1)

174: No. -/-/33 Cody Surratt, Sr. (1-2) vs. Scott Joll (4-3)

184: Sam Wolf, Fr. (1-3) or Calvin Sund, Fr. (3-1) vs. Jackson Moomua (2-1)

197: Kayne Hutchison, Jr. (1-3) vs. No. 1 Noah Adams (7-0)

HWT: No. -/-/27 Wyatt Hendrickson, Fr. (3-2) vs. Michael Wolfgram (5-2)

With many ranked wrestlers projected to see action in this Big 12 showdown, the quad meet is sure to be a good one. Here are five things to be on the lookout for throughout the weekend:

  1. Don’t be shocked to see WVU got a perfect 3-0 on the day. On paper, they are the superior team in all three matchups. However, don’t be alarmed to see the team wearing Old Gold and Blue possibly look a tad sluggish in the latter two matches. Not only do they have mid-day travel to contend with, but also the Fresno State and Air Force matches are late evening matchups, something WVU athletes aren’t used to yet this season.
  2. The nation’s No. 1 Noah Adams isn’t in danger of seeing his winning steak snapped this weekend. The streak, which currently stands at 39 consecutive victories likely extends beyond 40 when the weekend action concludes.
  3. Expect WVU to show some roster depth at points during the three aforementioned matches. WVU head coach Tim Flynn plans to bring some backups to log some live mat time. I’d expect some to get a starting nod. Others will participate in exhibition matches throughout the day.
  4. Pay some special attention to Ryan Sullivan at 133 for the Mountaineers. He got the starting nod against Northern Colorado. Not only did he win dominantly (by fall), but also he earned his first varsity win as a WVU starter. it Should be interesting to see if that momentum carries over to his second event as a West Virginia starter.
  5. Other things to watch for: Cardinale is coming off of his two most dominant showings of the young season. Expect him to carry that success forward. On the other hand, WVU’s Joll and Moomua  look to recover after being thoroughly beaten the last time out. For WVU redshirt freshman Boyd, this will be his first collegiate event as a nationally ranked grappler.

Looking forward, WVU will be back on the road next week, heading to Stillwater, Oklahoma, Sunday, Feb. 14, to take part in the Cowboy Challenge at historic Gallagher-Iba Arena. Wrestling is set to begin at noon ET. The action can be seen via ESPN+.

Note: The ranking information comes from the latest FloWrestling, InterMat, Trackwrestling, and The Open Mat polls.



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