The Mountaineer wrestling team (5-5, 4-3) concluded their Colorado road trip with two wins over conference opponents.
At the United States Air Force Academy, the Mountaineers narrowly defeated the Falcons, 19-18 on Friday.
West Virginia wrestled Air Force to an 18-18 tie after all weight classes, but the Mountaineers earned an additional point after a tallying of match point criteria.
WVU went 5 for 10 in matches, and this time, it was the heavyweights who positively determined the close win.
Going into 197 and Jake Smith, the Mountaineers were down 18-12. The team had just dropped 141, 149, 157, 174, and 184. After jockeying back and forth with the Falcons for wins, WVU needed Smith to win. In a 6-4 decision, Smith did just that, and closed the scoring gap to 18-15. Heavyweight Brandon Ngati followed suit and, in a 3-1 decision, won his match to tie the score at the end of regulation and add a win to his season record, at 3-15.
“This time we had to come together as a team,” head coach Sammie Henson said. “We’re a family. I think they [the team] really bought into that. They showed a lot of perseverance. We really are a family, and it was really cool to watch them pull this one out. It was ugly. We are on the road, and we are dealing with the altitude. Sometimes a win is ugly, but we’ll take it.”
On Sunday, the Mountaineers traveled to Greeley to face the Northern Colorado Bears and stayed perfect on their road trip, winning 24-16.
“I feel great,” Henson said. “It was our second straight road win in the Big 12. It’s also the most Big 12 wins we have ever had as a program. I’ve said this before, I’m proud of the way everyone came together tonight. We’re coming home with two Big 12 victories, and I can’t wait to go out in front of our home crowd next Sunday.”
The match started off strong; WVU won three of the first four weights, only letting the Bears on the board after an 8-5 decision loss at 133. In 125, Zeke Moisey won by tech. fall, his third of the season, to get the ball rolling on the scoreboard. Closely behind, At 149, freshman Kyler Rea recorded his first college pin, taking UNC’s Jimmy Fate to the ground in 1:32. This gave the Mountaineer lineup a twelve point cushion to work with going into the middle of the weights.
From there, WVU went 3-3. They added decision wins in 174, 184, and 197 before surrendering the last Northern Colorado points in heavyweight.
The WVU wrestling team will return home to face off against South Dakota State on Feb. 11. The match will be WVU’s annual Cradles for Cancer promotional day, and will include pink shirts and fundraising efforts for breast cancer awareness. Fans are encouraged to wear pink.