It’s not often that the college wrestling schedule requires a team to have three duals in a single day across two different sates, but it happened Saturday, Feb. 6, and WVU wrestling rose to the challenge. The Mountaineers earned two wins in three attempts, all against fellow Big 12 schools.
First the Old Gold and Blue dropped a lopsided affair to the Wyoming Cowboys 22-12 in Laramie, Wyoming, winning just four of the 10 individual matches. Then, WVU defeated both Fresno State and Air Force at a quad-meet hosted by Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. West Virginia bested Fresno State convincingly 37-3, winning all but the 141 pound bout. Against Air Force, WVU took five bouts and won the dual 20-17, where multiple WVU bonus-point wins proved paramount in securing the second dual meet win of the day. With the pair wins, the Mountaineers improve to 7-3, 3-2 Big 12 on the year.
While the story heard around the wrestling world this weekend was the nation’s No. 1 at 197, WVU’s Noah Adams, suffering his first loss since two seasons ago, West Virginia head coach, Tim Flynn, isn’t concerned.
“Noah lost to a solid kid, but when he wrestles his best, he is the best guy in the country,” Flynn said. “He came back strong. It’s a good sign for our guys. He is a good leader for our team. He showed our guys today that you can’t sit there and pout. There is no crying. It’s a big boy sport. It’s for studs, and he came back tonight and got us a lot of team points.”
As for the rest of his Mountaineers, Flynn commended the efforts of his young team.
“I thought we did pretty well,” Flynn said of his squad’s overall performance. “I believe in these guys. There’s more to them. We let one slip away at Wyoming. I feel like I have a good handle on when someone is a bit better than us, but those are two pretty even teams. I thought we could’ve won that match. I was a little bit disappointed with the first one, but it was a long day, and these guys came back strong.”
In the Mountaineers final dual meet of the evening, bonus-point victories made the difference. WVU accounted for a fall by Scott Joll (174), a technical fall by Noah Adams, and a major decision by Peyton Hall at 165.
No match was more import to the dual than Joll’s pin of Air Force’s Harlan Steffensmeier. At the time, the dual was tied 10-10. Joll’s fall coupled with Adams’ 15-0 technical fall, at the three minute and 24 second mark of the 197 pound bout, were what sealed the deal for WVU, with only the heavyweight match remaining. Following the match both teams lost a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“There are only 10 matches, so bonus points are going to win it for you,” Flynn said of the momentum-shifting fall. “Scott had a huge pin. He had fallen behind, but he bridged off his back and turned around to get the fall. He used extraordinary effort”
174 | Joll pins Steffensmeier in 3:43, adding six points to the Mountaineers' total!
— WVU Wrestling (@WVUWrestling) February 7, 2021
Lightweights Killian Cardinale (125) and Ryan Sullivan (133) also looked solid in their respective matches against the Service Academy. Cardinale ended his night with a shoutout 3-0 decision, while Sullivan produced a dominant 8-3 decision over a ranked Jared Van Vleet of Air Force. Cardinale and Sullivan were two of three Mountaineers to go a perfect 3-0 on the day. Peyton Hall was also 3-0, including a victory by forfeit in the dual against Fresno State. For Sullivan, the redshirt freshman is now 4-0 as a WVU starter with three wins versus ranked opponents after assuming the starting spot at 133 less than a week ago, on Jan. 31.
133 | Ryan Sullivan captures his third win over a ranked opponent in as many weeks, taking down No. 17 Van Vleet in an 8-3 decision!
— WVU Wrestling (@WVUWrestling) February 7, 2021
“He’s wrestling well,” Flynn said of Sullivan’s undefeated day. “We always knew Ryan had the ability. He is working really hard right now, and it is paying off. His body looks good, and he is in the right frame of mind. He is wrestling well, and I imagine he is going to get some recognition here soon.”
Despite nearly a six hour break and a long bus ride between their fist (Wyoming) and second (Fresno State) dual match of this busy Saturday, WVU bounced back in utterly dominant fashion against the Bulldogs of Fresno State, winning seven of eight bouts and collecting two forfeit victories along the way for the 37-3 decision.
Adams wrestled angry against Fresno State, rebounding with a fall of his own over Nick Villarreal. He suffered his first defeat since Nov. 3, 2019 in his fist match of the day against Wyoming’s No. 14 Stephen Buchanan earlier in the day. Adams’ fall came just a minute and 30 seconds into the match.
Alongside Adams, WVU saw very dominant performances out of the heavyweight, 125 pound, and 133 pound weight class against Fresno State.
Michael Wolfgram ended the Fresno dual in style will strong 11-2 major decision with significant riding time.
At 125, Cardinale started the dual in forceful fashion with a 10-4 decision, which included a point for riding time.
Three first period takedowns helped Ryan Sullivan to his then-third win as a WVU starter, a strong 8-4 decision.
Brayden Roberts (149), Alex Hornfeck (157) and Joll (174) all downed their respective Bulldog foes via regular decisions. Peyton Hall (165) and Jackson Moomau (184) both added six points to the dual meet score by collecting forfeit victories.
Against Wyoming, the Cowboys came out strong in defense of their home mat. Wyoming jumped out to a quick 12-0 dual meet lead, which included a shocking upset of No. 1 Noah Adams. The 8-7 loss to Wyoming’s No. 14 Stephen Buchanan, who Adams got the better of twice last season, ending the Mountaineer 197-pounder’s 39-match winning-streak, which dated back to his redshirt freshman season.
DOWN GOES NUMBER 1️⃣
— Wyoming Cowboy Wrestling (@WyoWrestle) February 6, 2021
The signature win of the Wyoming dual for the visiting Mountaineers came at the 133 pound weight class for the second straight week. Redshirt freshman and Pitt transfer, Ryan Sullivan, earned his then-second ranked win in as many matches as a WVU starter. He took down No. 16 Job Greenwood 4-1. This comes after a second period fall over then-No. 20 Theorius Robinson of Northern Colorado on Jan. 31.
WVU was able to rattle of three straight strong decision to lessen the team score deficit to 12-9 after six bouts, thanks to wins at heavyweight, 125, and 133, but that was as close as it would get. The fourth and final win of the dual for West Virginia came in the final bout of the dual as WVU true freshman Peyton Hall’s narrow 7-6 allowed the Chester, West Virginia native to improve to then-7-1 on the season.
No. 23 West Virginia 20, Air Force 17
125: Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) over Cody Phippen (Air Force) (Dec 3-1)
133: Ryan Sullivan (West Virginia) over #17 Jared Van Vleet (Air Force) (Dec 8-3)
141: Bradley Bitting (Air Force) over Jeff Boyd (West Virginia) (Dec 3-1)
149: Dylan Martinez (Air Force) over Brayden Roberts (West Virginia) (MD 9-1)
157: Parker Simington (Air Force) over Alex Hornfeck (West Virginia) (Dec 3-0)
165: #23 Peyton Hall (West Virginia) over Vincent Dolce (Air Force) (MD 11-3)
174: Scott Joll (West Virginia) over Harlan Steffensmeier (Air Force) (Fall 3:43)
184: Sam Wolf (Air Force) over Jackson Moomau (West Virginia) (Dec 1-0)
197: #1 Noah Adams (West Virginia) over Kayne Hutchison (Air Force) (TF 15-0 3:24)
285: Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) over Michael Wolfgram (West Virginia) (TF 18-3 5:00)
Both teams were deducted a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct
West Virginia 37, Fresno State 3
125: Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) over Anthony Molton (Fresno State) (Dec 10-4)
133: Ryan Sullivan (West Virginia) over Haiden Drury (Fresno State) (Dec 8-4)
141: #13 DJ Lloren (Fresno State) over Jeff Boyd (West Virginia) (Dec 4-2)
149: Brayden Roberts (West Virginia) over Anthony Federico (Fresno State) (Dec 6-2)
157: Alex Hornfeck (West Virginia) over Christopher Gaxiola (Fresno State) (Dec 6-1)
165: #23 Peyton Hall (West Virginia) wins by forfeit
174: Scott Joll (West Virginia) over Zack Gonzalez (Fresno State) (Dec 9-2)
184: Jackson Moomau (West Virginia) wins by forfeit
197: #1 Noah Adams (West Virginia) over Nick Villarreal (Fresno State) (Fall 1:31)
285: Michael Wolfgram (West Virginia) over Randy Gonzalez (Fresno State) (MD 11-2)
No. 25 Wyoming 21, No. 23 West Virginia 12
125: Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) over Brendon Garcia (Wyoming) (Dec 7-3)
133: Ryan Sullivan (West Virginia) over #16 Job Greenwood (Wyoming) (Dec 4-1)
141: Chase Zollmann (Wyoming) over Jeff Boyd (West Virginia) (Dec 5-3)
149: Jaron Jensen (Wyoming) over Brayden Roberts (West Virginia) (Dec 11-5)
157: #20 Jacob Wright (Wyoming) over Alex Hornfeck (West Virginia) (Dec 7-3)
165: #23 Peyton Hall (West Virginia) over Cole Moody (Wyoming) (Dec 7-6)
174: #9 Hayden Hastings (Wyoming) over Scott Joll (West Virginia) (SV-1 3-1)
184: #23 Tate Samuelson (Wyoming) over Jackson Moomau (West Virginia) (Fall 4:47)
197: #14 Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming) over #1 Noah Adams (West Virginia) (Dec 8-7)
285: Michael Wolfgram (West Virginia) over Terren Swartz (Wyoming) (Dec 4-0)
133: Brandon Betancourt (Fresno State) dec. Joey Thomas (WVU), 6-4
133: Joey Thomas (WVU) dec. Garrett Kuchan (Air Force), 3-2
157: Caleb Dowling (WVU) dec. Jimmy Fate (Northern Colorado), 5-3
157: Caleb Dowling (WVU) dec. Mason Hulse (Northern Colorado), 10-6
184: Anthony Carman (WVU) wins by fall Brock Jennings (Air Force), F 6:40
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+.