TULSA, OKLA. — In front of over 19,000 roaring wrestling fans packed inside the BOK Center on Thursday afternoon, fifth-year senior Killian Cardinale led the way for the West Virginia University wrestling team by knocking off No. 5 seed Caleb Smith during the first session of the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
As the No. 28 seed at 125 pounds, Cardinale secured the only takedown of the bout in the second period to go up 2-1, before Smith pulled off his second escape of the period to tie it at 2-2. The 2021 All-American broke the tie with an escape point 15 seconds into the third to preserve the 3-2 upset.
The Bristow, Virginia, native moves on to face No. 21-seed Jore Volk of Wyoming in the first meeting between the pair. Volk took down No. 12-seed Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern en route to the second round.
Junior Peyton Hall entered his third championship appearance as the No. 14 seed at 165 pounds, where he squared off against No. 19-seed Dan Braunagel of Illinois in the first round. Down 2-1 late in the first period, Hall shot for Braunagel’s legs and secured the takedown to go up one, before the Fighting Illini escaped to knot the match up at 3-3 heading into the second. From there, Braunagel went on a 13-2 run between the second and third periods to seal the 16-5 major decision.
Additionally, redshirt freshman Jordan Titus (141), redshirt junior Anthony Carman (184), redshirt sophomore Austin Cooley (197) and redshirt junior Michael Wolfgram (HWT) will join Hall in the consolation brackets after each fell in their opening bouts.
All six Mountaineers return for session two, which is set to begin at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Championship Round 1
125: No. 28 Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. No. 5 Caleb Smith (Appalachian St.), 3-2
141: No. 4 Brock Hardy (Nebraska) major dec. No. 29 Jordan Titus (WVU), 12-4
165: No. 19 Dan Braunagel (Illinois) major dec. No. 14 Peyton Hall (WVU), 16-5
184: No. 1 Parker Keckeisen (UNI) major dec. No. 33 Anthony Carman (WVU), 12-3
197: No. 2 Bernie Truax (Cal Poly) major dec. No. 31 Austin Cooley (WVU), 8-0
HWT: No. 8 Sam Schuyler (Iowa State) dec. No. 25 Michael Wolfgram (WVU), 4-2
184: No. 33 Anthony Carman (WVU) dec. No. 32 Jha`Quan Anderson (G-W), 5-3 (SV1)