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Air Force knocks off Fresno State in Big 12 opener

USAFA, Colo. -- In what was a back and forth affair, the Air Force Academy wrestling team came out on top over Big 12 rival Fresno State, 19-15, in a Veterans Day dual Sunday evening, Nov. 11, at Clune Arena. The dual was still up for grabs going into the penultimate bout, but a major decision from senior co-captain Anthony McLaughlin at 197 lbs. sealed the victory for the Falcons (1-1, 1-0 Big 12).

Air Force won six of ten matches on the night, five by decision and the sixth by McLaughlin's major. The dual was razor thin throughout, with eight of the 10 matches coming down to decision wins, including one in sudden victory. Fresno State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) took heavyweight by forfeit after the dual was already decided.

The dual began at 125 lbs. as California native freshman Sidney Flores got the match off on the right foot, scoring two takedowns, to go along with a penalty point and riding time to blank his opponent, 6-0. Senior John Twomey followed that up with a 3-0 decision at 133 lbs. to give Air Force the early 6-0 lead without giving up a match point.

Junior Garrett O'Shea kept the momentum going at 141 lbs. as he controlled his match start to finish in a 7-3 decision win to make it 9-0 after three weights. The Bulldogs got on the board at 149 lbs. as nationally ranked Khristian Olivas narrowly edged out junior Alec Opsal, 8-7, with the deciding point coming on riding time.

Senior co-captain Alex Mossing got Air Force back on track at 157 lbs. as he had a barnburner with Isaiah Hokit of Fresno State. The Toledo, Ohio native got out to a fast start, getting two takedown in the first to lead, 4-1 after one. Hokit crept back though, eventually tying the match at 7-7 late in the third, but Mossing's riding time was enough to get the 8-7 decision win and get the team score up to 12-3 at the midway point.

Fresno State took 165 lbs. with an 8-3 decision to make it 12-6 heading into 174 lbs. In what ended up being the bout of the night, junior Randy Meneweather went to sudden victory after a pair of escapes on both sides was all that occurred in regulation, making it 1-1 into overtime. With about 25 seconds remaining in the SV period, Meneweather was able to secure the takedown on the edge of the mat, sending the crowd who braved the snowy conditions into a frenzy. With three weight classes remaining, Air Force held the steady 15-6 advantage.

The Bulldogs were able to take 184 lbs. by 5-1 decision to keep themselves alive heading into 197 lbs. There, McLaughlin was up to the challenge, as he used a seven point third period to storm ahead, 12-3, and lock up the dual with a major decision. With the dual decided, Air Force forfeited heavyweight to make the final tally, 19-15.

The Falcons will be off from dual action until December 9, but are back on the mats next Saturday, Nov. 17, when they head to Annapolis, Md. for the Navy Classic. Action from the Wesley Brown Field House is set to begin at 8 a.m. MT and will run throughout the day.

Results:
125: Sidney Flores (Air Force) over Robert Garcia IV (Fresno State) (Dec 6-0)
133: John Twomey (Air Force) over Gary Joint (Fresno State) (Dec 3-0)
141: Garrett O'Shea (Air Force) over Chris Deloza (Fresno State) (Dec 7-3)
149: No. 16 Khristian Olivas (Fresno State) over Alec Opsal (Air Force) (Dec 8-7)
157: Alex Mossing (Air Force) over Isaiah Hokit (Fresno State) (Dec 8-7)
165: Jacob Wright (Fresno State) over Tanner Johnson (Air Force) (Dec 8-3)
174: Randy Meneweather (Air Force) over Ricky Padilla (Fresno State) (SV 3-1)
184: Jackson Hemauer (Fresno State) over Tyler Wiederholt (Air Force) (Dec 5-1)
197: Anthony McLaughlin (Air Force) over Danny Salas (Fresno State) (MD 12-3)
HWT: No. 15 AJ Nevills (Fresno State) over Unknown (FF)

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