After an encouraging 10-5 season last year, which included sending six wrestlers to the NCAA individual championships, West Virginia wrestling coach Tim Flynn only expects his program to get stronger this upcoming season.
“We want to get into the top 20. I mean, that’s where we feel like we can go with this team. We can be a top 20 squad,” Flynn said.
Since his first season at WVU in 2018, it is no secret the program has improved tremendously.
Flynn says one of the biggest factors that has led to this improvement is recruiting.
“Recruiting is getting easier. The APC (athletic performance center) helps a lot. Having that new weight room, the new athletic training, all these things are big bonuses when we go to recruit a student-athlete,” Flynn said “We’re getting better student-athletes.”
One of those recruits looking to make a big impact is freshman Ty Watters. Watters is from just outside of Pittsburgh and was rated No. 3 in the country in the 152-pound class, according to FloWrestling.
“Ty is a real high-level talent, and certainly I think he can do some damage pretty quickly,” Flynn said.
Watters, a two-time Pennsylvania state champion, was a huge get for Flynn and the Mountaineers. Flynn believes Watters has what it takes and can leave a lasting impression on the program.
“He’s going to be a guy that before he’s out of here, I don’t know how quickly, but he’s going to be competing for a national championship, and we need more guys like that,” Flynn said of Watters.
Another new wrestler Flynn is expecting to make an impact is Northwest Kansas Technical College transfer Jett Strickenberger. Strickenberger is coming off a JUCO national championship and has two years of remaining eligibility. Strickenberger competes in the 125-pound weight class.
Having newcomers such as Watters and Strickenbegrer is hopefully able to affirm Flynn’s belief of better recruiting leading to higher levels of success.
Flynn’s team goals for this season were simple — qualify his entire team for the NCAA Tournament.
“We want to qualify all of our guys for the NCAA Tournament. We want to move up, we want to continue to improve and that’s a basic statement, but we’ve been doing better every year,” Flynn said.
WVU will host big-time opponents Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri for duals this season. Flynn embraced the competition, saying, “when you can get the highest level of Division I wrestling at home, it’s great for our fans, it’s great for the state, it’s great for recruiting.”
Out of the six NCAA qualifiers in 2023 from WVU, four are returning.
Austin Cooley, Peyton Hall, Jordan Titus and Michael Wolfgram. Look for these guys to build off of their success last year to advance even further in the championships and contribute collectively to the team’s success.
In 2024 you can expect the Mountaineer Wrestling team to continue to rapidly improve under Coach Tim Flynn. Through his proven coaching style, West Virginia is recruiting better, not over-training wrestlers, and allowing for thrilling fan engagement.
“I think our program’s better. I think the product’s better, so I do expect more people to come out. I think they will,” Flynn said.
The team will begin its season with the inaugural intrasquad wrestle-offs on Oct 28 and then will travel to Salem, Virginia, for the Southeast Open on Nov 4.