Mountaineer Round-up: Wrestling enters rankings, gymnastics faces another ranked opponent

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Photo courtesy WVU Athletics

It’s been a busy several weeks for West Virginia Athletics, and things are looking up for several Mountaineer programs across the department. Here’s what you missed, and what to look out for this coming week.

Wrestling

Current Record: 5-2 (1-1 Big 12)

Last week: West Virginia hosted Big 12 affiliate Northern Colorado, the 17th-ranked team in the nation, and achieved a big upset over the Bears, 25-11. This was the first upset of a ranked squad in two years for WVU, and it was good enough to help the Mountaineers break into the national stage — even cracking Intermat’s national rankings at No. 20.

The meet featured a lot of highlights for West Virginia, led by top-ranked Noah Adam’s victory in the 197-pound division to keep his record perfect. WVU’s other ranked grapplers, Peyton Hall and Killian Cardinale, also earned victories, adding to the team’s total of seven for the meet.

Among those was Jeffrey Boyd, who defeated UNC’s Chris Sandoval at 141 pounds. Sandoval was ranked at No. 24 by FloWrestling, so that helped bolster Boyd’s individual posture as well, making him the fourth WVU wrestler in the national ranking this week — placed no. 32 by The Open Mat.

Next week: The Mountaineers are headed west for two meets on Saturday. The first is a dual meet at Wyoming at noon ET, then they take the nearly two hour drive south to Greeley, Colorado to face Fresno State and Air Force.

“I think the biggest thing for us is to try to perform consistently,” said coach Tim Flynn. “You know, you can go out and wrestle a really, really good team and have a good performance and maybe not get the win, so even in winning, you can maybe perform poorly….I think trying to get our guys to be consistent, and always bring the same energy and effort to the table I think is a big part of the next step for us.”

Rifle

Current Record: 7-0 (5-0 GARC)

Last week: The fourth-ranked Mountaineers stayed steady in the national poll after winning a quad-meet in Morgantown against No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 12 Akron and No. 14 Navy on Jan. 30, then defeating the Rebels once again the next day.

West Virginia had plenty of great performances over the weekend, but the highlight of the weekend was junior Jared Eddy’s showing in the smallbore. He shot a school record 595 against Ole Miss — previously, it was set by Petra Sublasing on Feb. 23, 2013 at the GARC Championships. Eddy also tied the standing record with a 199, a record set by program legend Ginny Thrasher in 2017.

He also set a personal-best aggregate score of 1190 to pace the team in that win on Sunday against Ole Miss, which WVU won 4737-4713.

This week: The Mountaineers are off this weekend and return to the range on Feb. 13 when they travel to face Kentucky.

Gymnastics

Current record: 0-2 (0-2 Big 12)

Last week: WVU squared off against Oklahoma for the second straight week, falling to the third-ranked Sooners again, 195.850-194.775 — but this time it was in Norman. There were plenty of positives to take away from this one for the Mountaineers, however, as they notched season high scores on the vault and the floor. Still, they fell in those events, along with the uneven bars, while taking a win on balance beam.

Emily Holmes-Hackerd was the all-around leader for WVU, scoring 37.475. There were also standout performances from several individual Mountaineers in certain events, such Esperanza Abarca’s team-high scores in the vault and the beam, and McKenna Linnen’s 9.90 on the floor.

Holmes-Hackerd was able to get that team-high score despite taking a fall in the first rotation.

This week: WVU has another ranked opponent this week when they host No. 17 Iowa State.

Head coach Jason Butts says his squad is up to the challenge, as they have been facing uphill battles all season. He says there may be some Mountaineers getting their first taste of competition this season, while his squad works on upgrading its overall performance.

“It’s a little bit of an unknown as we go into it, but this team seems to be…thriving under the, just, ‘no plan works out the way that it’s supposed to’ for the past nine months,” Butts said. “They’ve learned t just kind of adapt and go with it, and I think they’re just excited to go in there and see what happens.”

Swimming and Diving

Current record: 0-2

Last week: The Mountaineers wrapped up their regular season with a meet against No. 18 Notre Dame in Morgantown, falling to the Fighting Irish on both the men’s and the women’s side.

Despite the team loss, WVU had several individuals stand out with wins of their own. Seniors David Dixon and Ally VanNetta earned wins on Senior Day, with Dixon taking the top spot in the 200 fly and VanNetta topping the 100 backstroke. Sophomore Emily Haimes was also victorious in the 50 free.

PJ Lenz’s performance was the highlight of WVU’s showing in the diving well, picking up three second-place finishes on platform, the 1-meter and the 3-meter.

These showing were good enough to garner nods from the Big 12 — for the second consecutive week, Dixon and Lenz were named Men’s Swimmer and Men’s Diver of the Week, respectively, while Haimes was named co-Women’s Swimmer of the Week for the first time in her career.

Next week: The swimming and diving Mountaineers are back in the pool in two weeks, when they head to Austin, Texas to compete in the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships from Feb. 19-21, then again from Feb. 25-27.

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