West Virginia’s football program uses “Trust The Climb” as the mantra for its building process, and across campus, wrestling coach Tim Flynn appreciates that, as he is certainly in the same building mode as his football counterpart Neal Brown. However, Flynn has another phrase that he’s employing as he rebuilds the program.
“My message is ‘I don’t want to wait to win,’ Flynn said with a laugh as he explained his thought process. “I tell the guys, I understand there’s a difference when you are an immature young man, but I tell them they can win as freshmen. They are allowed. You see it happen every year. Is it crazy that Peyton Hall could beat the number nine guy this weekend? No.”
Hall, one of a group of freshmen who got off to good starts on WVU’s opening weekend, went 3-0 at 165 pounds, earning two major decisions along the way.
Flynn’s thought process on this tends toward the way competition in his sport plays out. While practice competition and teammate support are important in wrestling, once the whistle blows it’s all one-on-one.
“In wresting there’s no schemes. In other team sports the sum of the parts can be greater (than the individuals), but in wrestling you are out there against one guy,” Flynn explained.
The head-to-head cuts both ways, though. Unlike football, where team success is based on multiple players executing on the same play, wrestling is one of those where it’s simply the sum of individual achievement that leads to team success. That means that individuals can achieve at a high level no matter the talent around them.
“Trust the Climb? We do trust the climb. But I want to climb right now,” the Mountaineers’ aggressive coach summed up.
Transfer Killian Cardinale went 1-2 on the opening weekend, with his win coming via forfeit. However, Flynn believes the former Old Dominion wrestler isn’t too far away from achieving the success he expects.
“Killian didn’t wrestle bad. He’s not far off. I just think he has to do more,” said Flynn, who watched the redshirt junior drop a pair of one-point decisions. “He has to attack more and be aggressive. It’s not like he laid an egg.”
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WVU is still awaiting the return of Weirton High School junior Caleb Rea (141), who is now on the injury recovery path. He’s still ranked by 22nd by Open Mat, and his presence will be a boost to the Mountaineer lineup.
“Caleb was out for a while, and he has been working out the last three weeks or so,” Flynn detailed. “He is going to get some exhibition matches this weekend, and then wrestle off the following weekend. He looks pretty good in practice.”
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WVU faces Bucknell and 19th-ranked Oklahoma on Sunday, Jan. 17, in a triangular meet. The Mountaineers will face the Bison at 2:00 p.m., then rest while OU and Bucknell square off. The Mountaineers will then meet the Sooners in the final match of the day.