MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University wrestling team bounced back from a 21-12 loss at Wyoming to claim two-of-three conference matches on the road, defeating Fresno State (37-3) and Air Force (20-17) on Saturday evening, at the Bank of Colorado Arena, in Greeley, Colorado.
With today’s wins, the Mountaineers have won four of their last five matches for a 7-3 overall record and a 3-2 mark in Big 12 action, their best start to a season since the 2013-14 campaign.
“I thought we did pretty well,” third-year coach Tim Flynn said. “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 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.”
WVU combined to win 18 bouts on the day, including five bonus victories. Saturday’s events also were highlighted by several wins over ranked opponents. Most notably, redshirt freshman Ryan Sullivan claimed a pair of top-20 wins at 133 pounds, as he bested No. 16 Job Greenwood of Wyoming and No. 17 Jared Van Vleet of Air Force. He also captured an 8-4 decision over Fresno State’s Haiden Drury to improve to 4-0 on the season.
“He’s wrestling well,” Flynn said. “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.”
Redshirt junior Killian Cardinale (125) and freshman Peyton Hall (165) also registered a 3-0 mark in their respective weight classes.
Cardinale, ranked No. 22 nationally by The Open Mat, claimed a trio of decisions, outscoring his opponents 20-8. His performances were highlighted by a hard-fought, 3-1 win over No. 32 Cody Phippen of Air Force, Cardinale’s final match of the evening. With the wins, the Bristow, Virginia, native moves to 7-3 on the year.
Hall, ranked No. 23 nationally by FloWrestling and The Open Mat, started the day off with a 7-6 victory over No. 22 Cole Moody of Wyoming. He later claimed a win by forfeit before posting an 11-3 major decision over Air Force’s Vincent Dolce. The win marked Hall’s third major decision of his career. He is now 9-1 on the season.
Redshirt junior Noah Adams, ranked No. 1 nationally by a trio of media outlets, dropped an 8-7 battle to No. 14 Stephen Buchanan of Wyoming, snapping his 39-match win streak at 197 pounds. Adams, a Coal City, West Virginia, native bounced back in his evening matches with a pair of bonus victories. He pinned Nick Villarreal of Fresno State in 90 seconds before earning a tech. fall over Air Force’s Kayne Hutchison in the second period. Adams boasts a team-high four bonus victories on the year and paces the team with 38 match points.
Scott Joll also notched a 2-1 record at 174 pounds, most notably pinning Air Force’s Harlan Steffensmeier in 3:43. His second victory of the day came from a 9-2 decision over Zack Gonzalez of Fresno State. With the wins, Joll moves to 6-4 on the season.
“There are only 10 matches, so bonus points are going to win it for you,” Flynn said. “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.
“Noah lost to a solid kid, but when he wrestles his best, he is the best guy in the country. 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 just sit there and pout. There is no crying in wrestling. It’s a big boy sport. It’s for studs, and he came back tonight and got us a lot of team points.”
Redshirt freshman Michael Wolfgram also improved to 7-3 on the year with wins over Wyoming’s Terren Swartz and Frenso State’s Randy Gonzalez in the heavyweight division.
Additionally, freshman Brayden Roberts (141), redshirt sophomore Alex Hornfeck (157) and junior Jackson Moomau (184) each posted a win on the day.
Looking ahead, the Mountaineers remain on the road and trek to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for the Cowboy Challenge on Sunday, Feb. 14. Competition is set to begin at 12 p.m. ET.
Wyoming 21, West Virginia 12
174: No. 10/9/17 Hayden Hastings (WYO) dec. Scott Joll (WVU), 3-1 [SV-1]
184: No. -/23/22 Tate Samuelson (WYO) wins by fall Jackson Moomau (WVU), F 4:47
197: No. 17/14/21 Stephen Buchanan (WYO) dec. No. 1/1/1 Noah Adams (WVU), 8-7
HWT: Michael Wolfgram (WVU) dec. Terren Swartz (WYO), 4-0
125: No. -/-/22 Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. Brendon Garcia (WYO), 7-3
133: Ryan Sullivan (WVU) dec. No. 20/16/20 Job Greenwood (WYO), 4-1
141: Chase Zollmann (WYO) dec. No. -/-/32 Jeffrey Boyd (WVU), 5-3
149: Jaron Jensen (WYO) dec. Brayden Roberts (WVU), 11-5
157: No. 18/20/21 Jacob Wright (WYO) dec. Alex Hornfeck (WVU), 7-3
165: No. -/23/23 Peyton Hall (WVU) dec. No. -/-/22 Cole Moody (WYO), 7-6
West Virginia 37, Fresno State 3
125: No. -/-/22 Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. Anthony Molton (Fresno State), 10-4
133: Ryan Sullivan (WVU) dec. Haiden Drury (Fresno State), 8-4
141: No. 13/13/13 DJ Lloren (Fresno State) dec. No. -/-/32 Jeffrey Boyd (WVU), 4-2
149: Brayden Roberts (WVU) dec. Anthony Federico (Fresno State), 6-2
157: Alex Hornfeck (WVU) dec. Chris Gaxiola (Fresno State), 6-1
165: No. -/23/23 Peyton Hall (WVU) wins by forfeit
174: Scott Joll (WVU) dec. Zack Gonzalez (Fresno State), 9-2
184: Jackson Moomau (WVU) wins by forfeit
197: No. 1/1/1 Noah Adams (WVU) wins by fall Nick Villarreal (Fresno State), F 1:31
HWT: Michael Wolfgram (WVU) major dec. Randy Gonzalez (Fresno State), 11-2
West Virginia 20, Air Force 17
125: No. -/-/22 Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. No. -/-/32 Cody Phippen (Air Force), 3-1
133: Ryan Sullivan (WVU) dec. No. -/17/21 Jared Van Vleet (Air Force), 8-3
141: Bradley Bitting (Air Force) dec. No. -/-/32 Jeffrey Boyd (WVU), 3-1
149: Dylan Martinez (Air Force) major dec. Brayden Roberts (WVU), 9-1
157: Parker Simington (Air Force) dec. Alex Hornfeck (WVU), 3-0
165: No. -/23/23 Peyton Hall (WVU) major dec. Vincent Dolce (Air Force), 11-3
174: Scott Joll (WVU) wins by fall Harlan Steffensmeier (Air Force), F 3:43
184: Sam Wolf (Air Force) dec. Jackson Moomau (WVU), 1-0
197: No. 1/1/1 Noah Adams (WVU) tech. fall Kayne Hutchison (Air Force), 15-0 [TF-3:24]
HWT: Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) tech. fall Michael Wolfgram (WVU), 18-3 [TF-5:00]
*WVU was deducted a team point due to bench misconduct following the 157-pound match, and Air Force was deducted a team point due to unsportsmanlike conduct following the 165-pound bout
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
Rankings are listed as follows: Intermat/FloWrestling/The Open Mat