Sunday, the West Virginia Mountaineers will battle Bucknell and Big 12 foe No. 19 Oklahoma at WVU Coliseum for their second fan-less home meet in as many weeks. WVU is currently ranked the No. 20 tournament team in the nation, according to The Open Mat.
Sunday afternoon’s matchup against BU marks just the second meeting between the squads. The two previously met at a neutral site in 2015, with WVU earning a 19-15 victory in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Mountaineers are (2-1) on the year after beating both Kent State and Ohio University before dropping a 24-14 dual with No. 8 Virginia Tech on Jan. 10 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. WVU’s last meeting with the Sooners was a 22-18 decision last year in Norman that favored the team wearing red and white.
For the Bison of Bucknell, they will be back in action after a long layoff. The Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association school opened their season by hosting LIU and VMI for a round-robin tournament on Jan. 3. In total, Bucknell racked up bonus points in 16 bouts, winning seven by fall, one by technical fall and eight by major decision. Six Bison went unbeaten, with Darren Miller (133) and Vincent Andreano (174) each going 3-0. Bucknell’s dual at Hofstra initially scheduled Jan. 10 was cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test result among a member of Hofstra’s Tier 1 personnel. The match isn’t likely will not be rescheduled.
With respect to No. 19 Oklahoma, Lou Rosselli’s squad returns all but one wrestler who saw action in 2019-20, featuring a lineup that showcases six NCAA qualifiers, two All-Americans and a pair of UWW/U23 national champions. The Sooners added 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year Mitch Moore to the roster via transfer from Virginia Tech. Moore is a two-time NCAA qualifier at 141 pounds and will compete for the Sooners at 149 pounds. As a team, Oklahoma is 0-1 on the season after a tough loss to a ranked Arizona State squad earlier this month on Jan. 8.
West Virginia will see four ranked grapplers lace em up this weekend in Killian Cardinale, Caleb Rea, Peyton Hall, and Noah Adams. Rea will be out of the starting lineup but will be participating in various exhibition matches.
Here are five things to watch for during Sunday’s dual:
- WVU’s 125-ponder, Cardinale, will have a bounce-back performance and get his first win for the team wearing Old Gold and Blue. He wrestled really well in his last outing but just came up short in two narrow one-point decisions. Expect him to find a way to win early on Sunday.
- Hall will be greatly tested in his first match of the day against a top-10 ranked Bison Zach Hartman. His second match of the day, Oklahoma’s Jake Stiles, will be the easier of the two, but still a quality challenge for the Chester, WV native. Should Hall stay undefeated on the year, he likely jumps into the top-20 in all major rankings by early next week. The same applies to WVU freshman Brayden Roberts. The former class of 2020 high school recruit will likely face No. 6 Dom Demas. A win Sunday night against the Sooners’ stud could thrust Roberts into the national spotlight by next week.
- Look for WVU to come out with a more aggressive offensive attack. Mountaineers’ head coach Tim Flynn made it a focal point in practice this week to avoid “coming out flat” as was the case last week in the season-opener against Kent State.
- Expect the shoulder harnesses to stay off. In their last meet, Both Cardinale and 174-pounder Scott Joll removed the braces that they each wore in their respective matches against Kent State. Both wrestlers looked much better, much more fluid, after removing the protective device.
- Don’t miss the Noah Adams (WVU) vs. Jake Woodly (OU) match, it should be one of the best individual bouts of the day. Adams and Woodley of Oklahoma will square off for the fourth time overall and the third time in dual action this weekend. Woodley holds a 2-1 record against Adams. However, it was Adams who came out on top last season, earning a 6-1 decision in dual action. The last time Woodley captured a win over Adams was at the 2019 Big 12 Wrestling Championship. No matter who wins, it should be a fun one.
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 WVU-Tri match will get underway at 2 p.m. ET and can be seen on Big 12 on ESPN+.