Redshirt junior Killian Cardinale of the West Virginia University wrestling team earned a seventh-place finish in the 125-pound pool at the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, at the Enterprise Center, in St. Louis, Missouri, on Saturday morning.
The last Mountaineer grappler to finish seventh or higher at the national tournament was 125-pounder Zeke Moisey, as he earned a runner-up finish at the 2015 event.
“Killian Cardinale is a stud,” third-year coach Tim Flynn said. “Many doubted him after a slow start this season, but we didn’t. He refuses to lose. He has a tough mindset.”
No. 17-seed Cardinale captured a 12-7 decision over No. 19-seed Eric Barnett of Wisconsin, finishing the three-day tournament with a 5-1 overall record. The Bristow, Virginia, native came out firing on all cylinders, scoring a takedown and four nearfall points to take a 6-3 lead into the second period. Cardinale deferred his choice, as Barnett started in the down position.
Cardinale gave up the escape, but he eventually tacked on two more takedowns to increase his lead to five after five minutes of action. The two grapplers started the final frame on their feet, with Cardinale registering his fourth takedown of the bout for the 12-5 advantage. Barnett registered a reversal, but it wasn’t enough, as Cardinale walked away with the 12-7 victory.
Cardinale, a transfer from Old Dominion, was one of two WVU wrestlers to compete in the round of 12 on Friday evening, as he upset No. 6-seed Jakob Camacho of NC State to earn All-America honors for the first time in his career.
The two-time NCAA Qualifier scored a team-high 6.5 points for the Mountaineers.
Redshirt junior Noah Adams (197), redshirt freshman Ryan Sullivan (133) and freshman Peyton Hall (165) also joined Cardinale at the 2021 NCAA Championships, as the quartet led WVU to a 31st-place finish with 11.5 team points. WVU placed 43rd at the 2019 tournament, improving 12 places in this year’s team standings.
Hall suffered a setback to No. 2-seed Anthony Valencia of Arizona State in the 165-pound blood rounds, just short of earning All-America status. The Chester, West Virginia, native recorded a 3-2 mark at his first-ever NCAA Tournament, completing his first season in a Mountaineer singlet with 16 wins to rank second on the team.
Additionally, Adams and Sullivan finished their tournament runs with a pair of losses in the second round of wrestle-backs on Friday. Sullivan capped his first season with an 8-5 overall mark, while Adams finished with a 14-5 record.
Of note, WVU has qualified 10 wrestlers to the national tournament in the Flynn era.