Jacob A. Smith

 

Jacob A. Smith wins a match against Arizona State.

Two tough matches against Big 12 foes will test the West Virginia University wrestling team this weekend.

The Mountaineers host Oklahoma State on Friday at 8 p.m. and host Oklahoma at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The match on Sunday is part of West Virginia’s "Beauty and the Beast Meet." After the wrestling team takes on Oklahoma, the gymnastics team will open its season at home against New Hampshire.

In the latest USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association poll, the 5-2 Mountaineers are ranked No. 24, moving up a spot from last week. The poll, released on Jan. 12, also has Oklahoma State (4-2) ranked No. 5 and Oklahoma (6-2) ranked No. 9.

West Virginia has not competed since the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Jan. 2, where the Mountaineers placed seventh as a team with 76.9 points. No. 1 Penn State won the event with 183 points. Oklahoma State also competed at the Scuffle and finished runner-up to Penn State.

Four Mountaineer wrestlers placed, led by sophomore Zeke Moisey. With a 7-1 record, Moisey placed third in the 125-pound weight class. Moisey rallied for six straight wins after a first round loss, including three wins against ranked opponents.

Aside from Moisey, Jacob A. Smith placed fourth at 197 pounds, Tony DeAngelo took seventh at 141 pounds, and Ross Renzi placed eighth at 165 pounds.

"I’m so proud of how the men fought today," said head coach Sammie Henson in an interview with WVUsports.com. "We had a really good morning round and finished strong with four guys placing. We need to believe in our training and this team do some damage come March."

A statement against the three-time Big 12 Champions on Friday night would mean a lot for West Virginia. The team is continually improving with each match. While stars like Dylan Cottrell, Moisey and Smith get a lot of the attention, several other players are making their presence known.

Freshman Keegan Moore didn’t expect to play this season, but since his redshirt has been removed, he has not disappointed. DeAngelo also has proved his importance as of late by rallying late at the Scuffle.

To pull off some upset this weekend, the Mountaineers will lean on stars Cottrell, Moisey and Smith, but they will also need the supporting cast to help out. That trio has a combined 60-14 record. The rest of the team is a solid 157-122. This weekend, West Virginia will look to improve on that mark in their toughest home stand of the season.