In his second year as West Virginia University’s wrestling coach, Tim Flynn has found it tougher than he had imagined to turn the Mountaineers into a program like he had at Edinboro. He turned the Pennsylvania school’s program into a powerhouse, with 14 top-20 finishes in the NCAA tournament. In the 2019-20 season at WVU, his team went 4-12 in the dual meet season. West Virginia hasn’t enjoyed a winning dual-meet record in six seasons.
The coach in him understands growing the Mountaineer program will be a process. The competitor in him – he won 105 matches as a wrestler at Penn State – wants that process to speed up.
“I want to win,” Flynn said in a recent video conference. “As much as I want to produce great young men … I came to West Virginia because I want to win and I want to win at a high level.”
He has one fantastic ingredient in his recipe for potential success: a wrestler who did nothing but win this past season.
Redshirt sophomore Noah Adams went 32-0 in 2019-20, winning a Big 12 title at 197 pounds. He was seeded No. 2 in the NCAA tournament before that event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. He still was named National Wrestling Coaches Association first-team All-American.
When Flynn arrived, he already knew the type of athlete he had in the Coal Grove native. Adams attended an Edinboro camp as a young high schooler from Independence High. Flynn watched Adams wrestle around with someone Edinboro would eventually sign, and knew that, even at a young age, if Adams could hang with that guy, he could be very good.
His leap from a 19-15 record two seasons ago to 32-0 last season was the result of improvement in all areas,” Flynn said.
“It’s not one thing,” Flynn said. “He got a little bit better with his conditioning and his strength on top, He got better with his speed. It was a little bit in all these areas that made this big giant step. It wasn’t this one thing.”
Now Flynn wants the rest of the Mountaineer roster to get closer to the caliber at which Adams was performing last season. For that to happen, Flynn said, the team needed more wrestlers on the roster with the innate ability to become great.
“We need more Noahs,” he said. “It’s hard to take someone less talented and take them up to the national level. What we need is more talent.”
It looks like that plan is in motion. WVU’s incoming recruiting class is considered among the nation’s best, ranked 12th in the country by FloWrestling and 16th by OpenMat. Flynn said Adams’ performance has been a major reason for that.
“It’s huge,” he said. “I said this to someone the other day, if Noah Adams doesn’t win another wrestling match, he’s already kickstarted our program with the season he had. Recruits look and can say, hey, I can win at a high level there.
“He’s been huge with recruiting and I think he will bring in more fans,” he added. “Right now, he’s developed into a leader. He’s going to be great for these next two recruiting classes, someone they can look to as a leader.”
As tough as the rebuilding job has been in Morgantown for Flynn, he knows he has a cornerstone in Adams that could help push the program into what he envisions.
“Sometimes, one guy can turn a program around,” he said, “and that’s Noah.”