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OU wrestling: Sooners seek 1st win of season ahead of tri-meet with Bucknell, West Virginia

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Jake Woodley

Then-redshirt sophomore Jake Woodley during the match against West Virginia on Jan. 19, 2020.

Oklahoma will be looking to enter the win column on Sunday as it travels to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take on Bucknell and West Virginia.

OU’s first road test of the year comes after it lost its season opener at home vs. No. 11 Arizona State on Jan. 8. The Sooners come into Sunday’s meet ranked No. 19 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s Coaches Poll.

The trip to Morgantown is an important bounce-back opportunity. Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Bucknell, 4-0, and most recently defeated the Bison, 21-13, in 2018. The Sooners defeated West Virginia, 22-18, a year ago in Norman, and OU has won four of its past five competitions against the Mountaineers.

Bucknell is coming off a canceled dual against Hofstra due to a positive COVID-19 test result. The Bison have one nationally ranked player coming into Sunday’s dual. Junior Zach Hartman is No. 9 in 165 pounds, per FloWrestling.

Meanwhile, West Virginia enters Sunday’s event with two nationally ranked wrestlers in No. 12 Killian Cardinale at 125 pounds and No. 1 Noah Adams at 197 pounds. West Virginia is 2-1 on the season, with wins against Kent State and Ohio. The Mountaineers’ lone loss came against No. 8 Virginia Tech on Jan. 10 in Morgantown.

The 197-pound bout between Adams and No. 13 Jake Woodley is especially intriguing. Woodley, a redshirt junior, is coming off a bout he nearly won and probably should’ve claimed against No. 6 Kordell Norfleet on Jan. 8. Woodley beat Adams twice during the 2018–19 season before losing to him in 2020.

“At the end of the day, it counts as a loss,” OU head coach Lou Rosselli said of Woodley’s shortcoming against Norfleet. “There were some errors in that, nevertheless, (Adams) and (Woodley) have wrestled several times, and for (Woodley) it’s about making sure he can finish and wrestle hard.”

Another bout to watch Sunday is at 165 pounds, as two talented first-years go at it on the mat.

OU’s redshirt freshman Jake Stiles is coming off an impressive collegiate debut, having battled No. 5 Anthony Valencia to the final seconds. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers’ freshman Peyton Hall enters the meet with a stunning 3-0 start to the season.

“(Stiles) put himself in a position to win,” Rosselli said about his wrestler’s debut effort. “He did a great job defensively, but offensively he’s going to have to score points.”

After Friday night’s loss to the Sun Devils, Rosselli talked about the lack of intensity being a big factor in the defeat. The Sooners’ enthusiasm must be better if they hope to pick up some wins Sunday.

“The energy has been really good at practice,” Rosselli said. “It’s not just energy when it comes to practice time, it’s energy when it comes to your weight class.

“The first thing that we can do is just make sure that we have energy, we’re on the scale, and we compete harder. If we can capitalize on that this week, and just get everyone wrestling hard for seven minutes, I think things will be better.” 

Sunday’s tri-meet begins at 4 p.m. and will be available to stream on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

Correction: This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. Jan. 14 to correct the spelling of Kordell Norfleet's name.

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