MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (March 19, 2021) – Redshirt junior Killian Cardinale of the West Virginia University wrestling team earned All-America honors to lead the Mountaineers on day two at the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships held at the Enterprise Center, in St. Louis, Missouri, on Friday.
With the 125-pound grappler still alive in his respective consolation bracket, he is guaranteed a spot on the podium in Saturday morning’s medal round. Despite classmate Noah Adams receiving NWCA All-America First Team honors last season, Cardinale became the first wrestler in the Tim Flynn era to garner All-America accolades at the NCAA Championships. Zeke Moisey was the last Mountaineer to earn All-America honors at the national tournament, placing eighth in the 125-pound weight bracket in 2018.
The Bristow, Virginia, native took down a pair of top-eight seeded wrestlers on Friday, as he carries a 4-1 record into the final day of the tournament. Cardinale will meet No. 19-seed Eric Barnett of Wisconsin in the seventh-place match on Saturday morning.
“It’s always exciting when you get a kid to place at nationals,” third-year coach Tim Flynn said. “Their goal is to be a national champion first and then an All-American, but we are stoked. We had another kid in the round of 12, and we know how good Noah is, so the future looks good.”
Cardinale started his day off with a strong performance over No. 18 Noah Surtin of Missouri, scoring a 9-4 decision to advance to the third round of wrestle-backs. He then topped No. 8-seed RayVon Foley of Michigan State in a 5-1 decision, which landed him a spot in the 125-pound blood rounds against No. 6-seed Jakob Camacho of NC State.
The two grapplers entered sudden victory tied at 4-4, with All-America status on the line. Following a scoreless overtime period, each wrestler notched an escape in their first tiebreaker to knot the match once again at 5-5. Cardinale fought even harder in the second tiebreaker, earning another escape for the 6-5 advantage. Camacho then had 30 seconds to get out from underneath, but Cardinale rode him through the period, which ended the bout in his favor.
“He refuses to lose,” Flynn said. “He has a tough mindset. The NC State match went into several overtimes, and he had to hold him down, so sometimes, it is just a matter of will.”
At 165 pounds, Peyton Hall capped his freshman campaign with a 13-4 loss to No. 2-seed Anthony Valencia of Arizona State in the blood rounds, just short of earning All-America accolades. Hall picked up a 10-5 decision over No. 22-seed Kennedy Monday of North Carolina in his first match of the day before earning a hard-fought, 3-1 win in sudden victory over No. 19-seed Gerrit Nijenhuis of Purdue. The Chester, West Virginia, native posted a 3-2 tournament record and totaled 16 victories in his first season as a Mountaineer.
Additionally, redshirt freshman Ryan Sullivan (133) and Adams (197) finished their tournament runs with a pair of losses in the second round of wrestle-backs on Friday. Sullivan capped his first season in a Mountaineer singlet with an 8-5 overall mark, while Adams finished with a 14-5 record.
“Obviously, we are still a growing program,” Flynn said. “We have a guy placed and had another guy in the All-America round, but we are nowhere near where we want to be. It’s getting there. I think we are slowly improving. We have four qualifiers coming back next season, and we finished in the top 25 of the dual-meet season. If you would’ve told me that three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Of note, West Virginia sits in a tie for 33rd place with 10.5 points.
125: Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. Noah Surtin (Missouri), 9-4
125: Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. RayVon Foley (Michigan State), 5-1
125: Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. Jakob Camacho (NC State), 6-5 [TB-2]
133: Chance Rich (CSU Bakersfield) dec. Ryan Sullivan (WVU), 4-3
165: Peyton Hall (WVU) dec. Kennedy Monday (North Carolina), 10-5
165: Peyton Hall (WVU) dec. Gerrit Nijenhuis (Purdue), 3-1 [SV-1]
165: Anthony Valencia (Arizona State) major dec. Peyton Hall (WVU), 13-4
197: Rocky Elam (Missouri) dec. Noah Adams (WVU), 4-3