West Virginia Grinds Out Huge Big 12 Road Win

By Amy Salvatore
February 02, 2018

USAF Academy, Colo. –The West Virginia University wrestling team overcame a 18-12 deficit to defeat Air Force, 19-18, on match point criteria, picking up its first-ever Big 12 Conference road win in program history Friday evening, at Clune Arena, in USAF Academy, Colorado.

With two bouts remaining, the Mountaineers (4-5, 3-3 Big 12) desperately needed a pair of decisions to tie the dual score at 18-18. Redshirt senior Jacob A. Smith, ranked 18th nationally, answered the call for the Mountaineers, as he grinded out a 6-4 decision over Anthony McLaughlin at 197 pounds to bring West Virginia within three, down 18-15.

Sophomore Brandon Ngati followed in his footsteps, capturing a hard-fought 3-1 decision in the heavyweight bout to put the Mountaineers' at 18 on the scoreboard at the end of regulation. With the win, West Virginia ended up walking away with the 19-18 victory based off match point criteria, outscoring Air Force (6-3, 1-2 Big 12), 28-27, for its third win in league action this season.

"This time we had to come together as a team," said fourth-year coach Sammie Henson. "We're a family. I think they [the team] really bought into that. They showed a lot of perseverance. We really are a family, and it was really cool to watch them pull this one out. It was ugly. We are on the road, and we are dealing with the altitude. Sometimes a win is ugly, but we'll take it."

Redshirt junior Zeke Moisey, ranked No. 15 in the nation, started things off for the Mountaineers with a 7-3 victory over Anthony DeCesare at 125 pounds. Moisey tacked on an early takedown in the first period before using four nearfall points in the second for the 6-1 advantage. DeCesare used a takedown of his own in the third frame, but it wasn't enough, as Moisey captured the 7-3 victory to put the Mountaineers on the scoreboard first.

At 133 pounds, redshirt freshman Matthew Schmitt won by forfeit, giving the Mountaineers a 9-0 advantage. However, the Falcons fought back and won three straight matches at 141, 149 and 157 pounds to take a 12-9 lead entering intermission.

Freshman Nick Kiussis evened the score at 12-12 with a 4-3 decision at 165 pounds. Air Force's Alexandre Lopouchanski started in the defensive position after a scoreless first frame, earning the escape for the 1-0 lead. Kiussis did not falter though, as he came out firing on all cylinders in the final period, notching a pair of escapes and a takedown for the 4-3 victory over Lopouchanski.

Air Force then scored on back-to-back decisions at 174 pounds and 184 pounds, respectively, for the 18-12 match lead. However, it was West Virginia that closed out the dual with a pair of decisions for the overall team victory.

The Mountaineers will head to Greeley on Saturday for a 9 p.m. ET matchup with Northern Colorado (2-7, 1-3 Big 12) at Bank of Colorado Arena. Live stats will be provided on TrackWrestling.

For more information on the Mountaineers, visit WVUsports.com and follow WVUWrestling on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

West Virginia 19, Air Force 18
125: No. 16/15/13 Zeke Moisey (WVU) dec. Anthony DeCesare (Air Force), 7-3
133: Matthew Schmitt (WVU) wins by forfeit
141: Alec Opsal (Air Force) dec. Christian Monserrat (WVU), 4-2
149: Dane Robbins (Air Force) dec. Kyler Rea (WVU), 3-1
157: Alex Mossing (Air Force) wins by fall Zachary Moore (WVU), F 2:36
165: Nick Kiussis (WVU) dec. Alexandre Lopouchanski (Air Force), 4-3
174: Michael Billingsley (Air Force) dec. Parker VonEgidy (WVU), 6-4
184: Zen Ikehara (Air Force) dec. Brenden McRill (WVU), 3-1 [SV-1]
197: No. -/18/- Jacob A. Smith (WVU) dec. Anthony McLaughlin (Air Force), 6-4
285: Brandon Ngati (WVU) dec. Matt Wagner (Air Force), 3-1

*Rankings are listed as followed: FloWrestling/Intermat/The Open Mat*

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