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WVU Wrestlers Look to Regain Traction with Tougher Matchups Looming



WVU Wrestling Austin Cooley

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.— Despite Sunday’s lopsided defeat at the hands of No. 5 ranked Oklahoma State, the WVU wrestling team can still be very accepting of its dual meet season so far.

Through 10 matches, the Mountaineers sit at 8-2 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12, while only dropping one spot in the NWCA Coaches Poll from No. 20 to 21.

However, it will be the continuation of the next two weeks that will determine the outcome of West Virginia’s quest for back-to-back 10-win seasons.

“It’s all about staying positive,” Mountaineers coach Tim Flynn said. “We have to just embrace the good and fix the bad. If we can stay positive and just keep getting healthier, we should be okay.”

In their next matchup, the Mountaineers will take on No. 2 ranked Missouri at 7 p.m. Friday inside the WVU Coliseum. This is followed by road trips to Morgan State, No. 4 Iowa State and No. 23 Northern Iowa.

West Virginia faced a similar situation in last season’s schedule.

The Mountaineers started the 2022-23 campaign 3-0 before falling to Missouri. Followed by another strong stretch to improve to 7-1, West Virginia hit a wall, taking four consecutive losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.

This year, the WVU wrestling team started with four straight wins before falling to Oklahoma, then picked up another four victories before Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys.

The Mountaineers will also be entering this tough stretch possibly down as many as three starters. Caleb Dowling (157 pounds) and Brody Conley (174) missed the match against Oklahoma State due to injury. 125-pounder Jett Strickenberger also sat out due to being on a weight-descent plan after wrestling up a weight class against Columbia.

According to Flynn, Strickenberger will miss the match against Missouri, but will likely be available to wrestle in the Morgan State matchup two days later.

“Some guys are just dinged up,” Flynn said. “It happens in all sports, and right now we’re going through it. I saw our football team have some guys out during the year. Other guys just have to step in for us.”

Multiple Mountaineers will still enter the next meet with Missouri carrying momentum.

Peyton Hall is coming off his biggest victory of the season. The senior defeated Oklahoma State’s No. 3 ranked Izzak Olejnik by a 5-1 decision, giving Olejnik his first loss of the season.

True freshman Ty Watters, entering ranked No. 10, picked up a 4-2 victory over Sammy Alvarez. Watters leads the Mountaineers in pinfall victories with 10 out of his 17 total wins.

On the other hand, Mountaineer veterans Jordan Titus and Michael Wolfgram, as well as newcomer Strickenberger, are looking to get back on the winning path.

Titus suffered his first loss of the season against Oklahoma State. Wolfgram also fell and is now unranked. Strickenberger started the season with an 8-0 record, but has dropped three of his last four matches.

“It’s a long season,” Flynn said. “It’s just part of the grind. One thing I know, and it’s what we always do, is I’ll put the best team out on the mat that we have available that day. This next stretch will definitely show this team’s character.”

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