A month from now, the WVU wrestling squad will look to compete in the Big 12 Championships at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Head coach Sammie Hensons’ wrestlers are quite familiar with the tournament environment. In 2015, Zeke Moisey qualified for the NCAA Tournament, but had to withdraw due to injury.
Last season, Dylan Cottrell became the first WVU wrestler to win a Big 12 title, after his defeat of Oklahoma State’s Chandler Rogers in the 165 finals of the 2017 Big 12 Wrestling Championship, on March 5.
Jake Smith made it all the way to the 2017 Big 12 championship match, but sustained a major injury that sidelined him until halfway through the 2017-18 season. He automatically qualified for the NCAA Tournament, but was unable to wrestle.
Since then, WVU has made national leaderboards, been littered throughout rankings and are already mentally preparing for the quality of competition that the Big 12 Championships produce. One wrestler, in particular, has his eyes set on Tulsa.
"I’m excited to get back out and compete for a Big 12 title," Smith said. "I’ve been fortunate enough to find my way back on the mat this year and get healthy enough, so I’m looking forward to [the tournament]."
For as much seniority and strength as Smith brings to this season’s roster, there’s a freshman working just as hard to make a name for himself.
"I think Matthew Schmitt, at 133, has a serious shot at getting on the podium at the end of the year and being an All-American," Moisey said.
Schmitt, whose been in and out of the national polls, has posted a 17-7 season record.
"The opportunity to earn my seeding at [the Big 12 Tournament] will become a factor," Schmitt said of how he will train for the remaining matches. "If I wrestle to the capability that I know I can, I can come out with a very high seed for Big 12’s, so I’m looking forward to that."
The tournament will begin at 10 a.m. on Mar. 3 and will be available to stream, for subscribers, on flowrestling.org.