TULSA, Okla. – Six Mountaineers finished on the podium, including two third-place finishes from redshirt juniors Killian Cardinale (125) and Noah Adams (197), as the West Virginia University wrestling team completed the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championship on Sunday afternoon, held at the BOK Center, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In addition, freshman Peyton Hall placed fourth in the 165-pound bracket, and redshirt sophomore Alex Hornfeck finished sixth in the 157-pound pool. Redshirt freshman Michael Wolfgram also placed seventh in the heavyweight division, while redshirt freshman Anthony Carman finished eighth in the 184-pound bracket.
With top-five finishes in the 125-pound, 165-pound and 197-pound brackets, Cardinale, Hall and Adams each earned an automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, slated for March 18-20, in St. Louis.
“We are happy,” third-year coach Tim Flynn said. “We have three automatic qualifiers, and there is chance we can get an at-large. We also had six guys place, and they all wrestled pretty well today. Again, I think the team did notably better than last year, especially without 133 and 149 competing.”
Cardinale, seeded fourth at 125 pounds, cruised to a 7-1 victory over No. 3-seed Trevor Mastrogiovanni of Oklahoma State. He then faced No. 4-seed Danny Vega of South Dakota State in the consolation finals, with the winner earning a third-place finish in their respective weight class.
The two grapplers met in the quarterfinal round of competition, with Vega pinning Cardinale in 5:25. However, it was Cardinale who came out on top this time, as he secured a 9-6 decision to avenge Saturday’s loss and place third overall. The Bristow, Virginia, native finished the tournament with a 5-1 record, punching his ticket to the national tournament for the second time in his career. Cardinale qualified for last year’s championships as a member of Old Dominion’s wrestling program, but did not compete due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He (Killian Cardinale) told me today that he always gains strength as the tournament goes on, and it showed,” Flynn said. “He wrestled well. From the first day he competed until now, he just keeps getting better, and I think he is at a good place heading into NCAAs.”
Adams, seeded third at 197 pounds, registered a 3-1 mark at the two-day event to earn a spot on the podium for the third time in his career. He took down No. 5-seed Jake Woodley of Oklahoma in a 6-2 decision before scoring a 6-3 decision over No. 6-seed Marcus Coleman of Iowa State in the consolation finals for a third-place finish. The Coal City, West Virginia, native looks to make his second appearance on the national stage. Last year, Adams earned the No. 2 seed at his respective weight before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At 165 pounds, No. 2-seed Hall posted a 13-7 win over Oklahoma’s Troy Mantanona. Hall then competed against No. 1-seed Travis Wittlake of Oklahoma State for the second time this season in the consolation finals, with Wittlake earning the 9-3 decision. Despite the loss, the Chester, West Virginia, native placed fourth and punched his first ticket to the national tournament.
Hornfeck dropped his matches to No. 4-seed Cade DeVos of South Dakota State and No. 5-seed Jacob Wright of Wyoming to finish sixth overall in the 157-pound division. The Mars, Pennsylvania, native has earned a spot on the podium twice in his career, as he placed eighth at last year’s conference championship.
Additionally, Wolfgram earned a seventh-place finish with a 10-8 victory over Northern Colorado’s Dalton Robertson, while Carman fell to South Dakota State’s Jacob Schoon in 3:31 to finish eighth.
Tonight’s championship matches will be broadcasted on ESPN2.
West Virginia sits in ninth place after three sessions with 57 points. Oklahoma leads the team race with 120 points, followed by Oklahoma State in second with 112 points. Iowa State is currently in third with 109.5 points.
Of note, the Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining at-large qualifiers to fill out the 33-man bracket in each weight class, which will be announced on March 9, followed by brackets and seeding on March 10.
125: Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. Trevor Mastrogiovanni (Oklahoma State), 7-1
125: Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. Danny Vega (South Dakota State), 9-6 – 3rd place
157: Cade DeVos (South Dakota State) dec. Alex Hornfeck (WVU), 11-5
157: Jacob Wright (Wyoming) dec. Alex Hornfeck (WVU), 4-2 – 6th place
165: Peyton Hall (WVU) dec. Troy Mantanona (Oklahoma), 13-7
165: Travis Wittlake (Oklahoma State) dec. Peyton Hall (WVU), 9-3 – 4th place
184: Jacob Schoon (South Dakota State) wins by fall Anthony Carman (WVU), F 3:31 – 8th place
197: Noah Adams (WVU) dec. Jake Woodley (Oklahoma), 6-2
197: Noah Adams (WVU) dec. Marcus Coleman (Iowa State), 6-3 – 3rd place
HWT: Michael Wolfgram (WVU) dec. Dalton Robertson (Northern Colorado), 10-8 – 7th place