Since his transfer from Virginia Tech to Oklahoma University following the 2020 season, Mitch Moore has become a heavy hitter in the 149-pound weight class. The 4x Ohio State Champion for St. Paris Graham High School started his college career at Virginia Tech, where he was a 2019 ACC runner-up and two-time NCAA qualifier at 141 pounds.
Starting Last Season with a Transfer
After entering the transfer portal in 2020, Moore was contacted by schools other than Oklahoma, such as Ohio State, Pitt, Wisconsin University, and Arizona State. When asked what led him to his decision to become a Sooner he stated, “It just felt like everything I was looking for.”
Moore’s original plan when entering the portal was to go somewhere closer to home, but said, “When I transferred, the coaches were very welcoming and made me feel at home. When I’m almost 14 hours away from home, it made me feel good.”
Bumping up a Weight Class
Moore claimed he didn’t plan on going up to the 149-pound weight class, but in retrospect saw that the weight cut to 141 pounds was affecting his wrestling. “I’m much better off at 149 because I can eat and still wrestle with the top guys.”
The biggest change that came from Moore’s transition to 149 was his preparation. The impact of being able to eat more had the biggest effect on his performance when before, he wasn’t able to. “I was a pretty big 141, so I didn’t really have to put on a bunch of muscle. Everybody thinks I put on so much muscle when I went up, but it wasn’t really like that. I’ve always had this much muscle, it’s just everybody has only seen me sucked out.”
Oklahoma’s Atmosphere Under Coach Roselli
Since Lou Roselli took the head coaching job at OU in 2016, the program has made dramatic strides. Under Coach Rosselli, the Sooners placed second at the Big 12 Championship in 2017 and tied with Oklahoma State for the title in 2021. He has also sent 36 athletes to the NCAA Championship, leading two of them to the podium (Dom Demas & Jake Woodley).
When asked what it has been like wrestling for this coaching staff, Moore said “It’s awesome having a coach like Lou whose life is wrestling. Lou is a wrestle head.” In addition, Moore spoke highly of the atmosphere the coaches have fostered in the program. “They’re always so positive, it’s hard to have a bad day here.”
So how does Oklahoma’s staff approach training? “They’re very personalized in everything that we do.” Moore claimed that the coaches split the wrestlers up with different coaches to work on areas of technique that they feel they need to work on specifically. He feels that the individualized structure that OU provides helps him to grow as a wrestler.
Making a Name for Himself at a New School
Moving to a new school nearly 1,000 miles away from home, Mitch Moore felt he had to prove himself. “I’m usually the kind of guy who does a lot of talking. Like, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that. I just put my head down and went to work. I didn’t focus too much on talking, just focusing on training and getting better.”
In Moore’s opinion, the most influential impact on his wrestling has been how supportive the coaching staff is. “When I go to practice, I’m working hard; but, the coaches are so positive it’s not that bad. They tell me they appreciate my hard work and they’re glad I’m here all the time. I feel wanted and I couldn’t be happier.”
Moore’s Thoughts on Big 12 Championships
OU won their first Big 12 Championship since 2002, tying with Oklahoma State for the team title. “Overall, I think we had a little bit of a bumpy season. I feel like Big 12s was just a glimpse of what we’re capable of. If everyone’s clicking, then we can hang with the best teams.”
Moore claimed that the Sonner squad being able to prove that they could contend with the best in the country is going to be a huge motivating factor for them this upcoming season. “We have a target on our backs because we’re the champs. We’re the Big 12 Champs and they don’t just hand those out.” Moore was the 2021 Big 12 runner-up, falling to Boo Lewallen of Oklahoma State in the finals match.
A Haunting Blood Round Loss
Mitch Moore came into the 2021 NCAA Championship as the 13th seed but fell to Campbell’s Josh Heil in the opening round. “I used it as fuel. I don’t like losing to that kid,” he said when asked how that match affected his mindset on the backside of the bracket.
Moore claimed two first period pins and an overtime victory over Kanen Storr of Michigan on his tear through the consolation bracket before falling to Yahya Thomas of Northwestern in the round of twelve, commonly referred to as ‘The Blood Round’. “I was really expecting to beat that kid. I didn’t overlook him, but when I went out there, I was like, ‘Alright this is my time to prove myself.’”
According to Moore, “There’s nothing worse than sitting there on the mat in the blood round and hearing the announcer say, ‘All-American’ the guy you just lost to. That’s something that’s always going to sit in the back of my head.” After being so close to achieving his lifelong goal of becoming an NCAA All-American, Moore has let that loss drive him in his training. “Like I said, it’s always in the back of my head, like when we’re doing treadmill sprints and stuff. Just that memory – it’s haunting.”
What’s Next for Moore?
Moore plans to compete at 149 pounds for the Sooners for his senior campaign. When asked if he planned to use his COVID year, an extra year of eligibility which was granted to NCAA fall and winter sports athletes, he stated, “We will cross that bridge when it comes.”
With his new team which fosters an environment for him to grow into his full wrestling potential, Mitch Moore has shown the wrestling community what he is capable of accomplishing. Now all that’s left for him to do is to live up to that potential.