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OU Opens Conference Dual at West Virginia

NORMAN – Oklahoma wrestling will compete in its first dual of the season on Saturday when it takes on West Virginia in Morgantown at 1 p.m. CT. It will also be the first conference action for the reigning Big 12 champions. 

The dual will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

Last Time Out

Oklahoma sent 16 wrestlers to the Michigan State Open last weekend and came home with three titles from six finalists for a 38-23 record in their first regular-season tournament in two seasons. Newcomer Joey Prata, senior Tony Madrigal, and redshirt senior Jake Woodley all brought home hardware from the season opener after winning their weight class. It was Woodley’s second career Michigan State Open title. 

Senior Mitch Moore, redshirt senior Anthony Mantanona, and redshirt sophomore Josh Heindselman all made it to the final match of their brackets as well, taking home second-place. Junior Darrien Roberts battled through the consolation bracket at 184 pounds to take third-place.

Scouting the Mountaineers

West Virginia traveled to the Clarion Open last weekend, where it took second place as a team, falling eight points shy of Navy for the team title

Star 165-pounder No. 14/16 Peyton Hall won the title in his weight class, while eight other Mountaineers finished in the top six of their respective brackets. Hall was an NCAA qualifier last season. 

WVU is led by head coach Tim Flynn, who is 15-29 at the helm of the Mountaineers’ program. He enters his fourth season on the heels of the program’s first winning season since 2013-14. 

Saturday’s dual marks the 12th meeting between the two programs, who first met in 2003. Oklahoma leads the all-time series 9-2.

Our Last Dual Against the Mountaineers

The Sooners last faced West Virginia Jan. 17, 2021 in Morgantown, W.Va., and they came away with a 21-9 victory in what was their first Big 12 action of the season. 

Oklahoma started the dual on a five-match winning streak with Tony Madrigal, Dom Demas, Mitch Moore and Justin Thomas all picking up decision wins to put the Sooners in the driver’s seat. Anthony Mantanona picked up the most lopsided victory on the day, claiming a 13-7 decision over West Virginia’s Scott Joll. The two could be slated to square off again this year. 

Edinboro Connection

For Oklahoma head coach Lou Rosselli and West Virginia head coach Tim Flynn, Saturday’s dual is a personal one. Flynn served as an assistant coach at Edinboro during Rosselli’s final two years as a wrestler for the Fighting Scots. Rosselli then spent 11 years as an assistant at his alma mater, working under Flynn who was Edinboro’s head coach from 1997-2018. 

Saturday will be the fourth time the pair have squared off as head coaches, with Rosselli holding a 3-0 advantage over his former mentor. Both men have been inducted into Edinboro Athletics’ Hall of Fame. 

Veteran Presence

Rosselli’s squad returns all but one of its starters from last season in 2021-22. The projected OU lineup features seven NCAA qualifiers from a season ago, three All-Americans and a two-time Big 12 champion in Demas. 

Sixth-year senior Justin Thomas leads a team loaded with years of elite experience. All but one of the projected starters are upperclassmen.

The Sooners also added a Virginia Tech transfer for the second straight season. Redshirt senior Joey Prata joins former Hokie teammate Mitch Moore on this year’s Sooner squad and will start in the 125-pound spot. Oklahoma also added Joe Grello from Rutgers and Keegan Moore from Northern Iowa. 

The Future is Bright

Despite the Sooners experience-laden squad for the 2021-22 season, head coach Lou Rosselli has set the program up for future success after compiling four top-15 recruiting classes in his six years in Norman. 

The Sooners have landed 11 top-100 recruits since Rosselli took over, including 2022 signees Joey Cruz (#13 at 120), Christian Forbes (#3 at 106), and John Wiley (#9 at 160). 

In 2021 Rosselli inked signees Tate Picklo (#1 at 195) and Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (#4 at 145). Herrera-Rondon took the title in the 157-pound freshman/sophomore division of the Michigan State Open.  

Mr. World Wide

Dom Demas traveled to Belgrade, Serbia, on Nov. 4 to represent the United States at the U23 World Championships. He booked his spot on the team by winning the UWW U23 65 kg bracket at U23 Nationals in May. 

It was the fifth time he had been an age-group World Team member, making the Cadet World team twice (2014, 2015), the Junior Greco-Roman World team (2017) and the Junior World freestyle team (2018). In Serbia, Demas was defeated by Ziraddin Bayramov of Azerbaijan in a 6-2 decision. 

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