MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University wrestling team (7-5, 1-5 Big 12) welcomes Air Force (7-3, 3-3 Big 12) to the WVU Coliseum for the first time in program history on Friday, Feb. 10, in the third matchup of a four-dual homestand. Dual time is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Friday marks Military Appreciation Night in the Coliseum, where military service members in attendance will gain free admission with a valid ID, as well as being honored prior to the dual. Additionally, the first 500 fans in attendance will receive a blue shaker.
“I feel like we are still improving, and we’ve had different guys step up on different days, and we want to put together one match where everyone is on,” fifth-year WVU coach Tim Flynn said. “We respect Air Force, as they have a number of really good guys, and if we don’t wrestle well then bad things are going to happen.”
Fans can catch all the action on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, with live stats on Trackwrestling.
WVU faces Air Force for just the second time in history, winning both meetings in the last six years. The pair first met in 2018, when the Mountaineers escaped Colorado Springs with a 19-18 win. WVU closed the abbreviated 2021 campaign by defeating the Falcons 20-17 in Greenly, Colorado. Current WVU grapplers Killian Cardinale (125), Peyton Hall (165), and Scott Joll (174) scored victories in the three-point win, including an 11-3 major decision by Hall and a pin from Joll.
Coach Sam Barber leads the Falcons into Morgantown with a 7-3 record and a 52-56 mark through nine seasons at the helm. Barber took over the program at the start of the 2014-15 season after serving the previous five as an assistant with the Falcons. Prior to joining Air Force’s staff as a volunteer assistant in 2008-09, the Upper Iowa University alum had stints as head coach at Division III powerhouse Augsburg during the 2007-08 campaign as well as throughout the 1999-2000 season for his alma mater. He led Augsburg to a 10-2 dual record during the 2007-08 campaign, with five Auggies becoming All-Americans to conclude Barber’s lone season.
In the polls, WVU received 16 votes in the latest NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll and remains No. 23 by FloWrestling as well. Seven Mountaineers remain ranked in the 17th edition of this season’s FloWrestling’s rankings – No. 9 Cardinale (125), honorable mention Jordan Titus (141), No. 20 Sam Hillegas (149), No. 12 Hall (165), honorable mentions Anthony Carman (184) and Austin Cooley (197) and No. 15 Michael Wolfgram (HWT).
Air Force enters Friday’s contest with a trio of Falcons ranked by FloWrestling. The group includes No. 21 Cody Phippen (133), No. 11 Sam Wolf (174), and No. 6 Wyatt Hendrickson (HWT). Hendrickson heads into the dual as the defending Big 12 Champion and last season’s Most Dominant Wrestler in NCAA Division I after finishing the 2022 season 26-2 in the heavyweight division. The Falcons also rounded out the NWCA Coaches Poll with two votes.