NCAA wrestling brackets released

Gold and Blue Nation

Photo courtesy WVU Athletics

Four members of the West Virginia University wrestling team have been seeded for the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, as announced by the NCAA on Wednesday evening.

Redshirt juniors Killian Cardinale (125) and Noah Adams (197), redshirt freshman Ryan Sullivan (133) and freshman Peyton Hall (165) will compete at this year’s tournament. Cardinale, Adams and Hall each earned automatic bids based on their performances at the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championship last weekend, while Sullivan received an at-large selection on Tuesday to punch his ticket.

Of note, WVU sends four or more Mountaineer grapplers to the national tournament for the first time since coach Tim Flynn’s inaugural season in 2019, when the squad sent a total of five to Pittsburgh.

Sullivan and Hall set to make their first appearance on the national stage. Additionally, Adams punched his third ticket to nationals after earning the No. 2 seed at his respective weight last season, while Cardinale qualified for the national tournament for the second time in his career. The NCAA Championships will be held on March 18-20, at the Enterprise Center, in St. Louis, Missouri.

As the No. 17 seed at 125 pounds, Cardinale (12-4) is slated to meet No. 16 Codi Russell (15-1) of Appalachian State in the first round. Following a quarterfinal loss at the 2021 Big 12 Championship, Cardinale maneuvered his way through consolations to earn a third-place finish in his respective bracket. The Bristow, Virginia, native finished the tournament with a team-best 5-1 record. Russell, who competed at 133 pounds the last two seasons, won the 125-pound title at the 2021 SoCon Wrestling Championship on Feb. 28. The two grapplers have not met this season.

No. 20 Sullivan (7-3) will face No. 13 Zach Redding (10-5) of Iowa State in the first round of the 133-pound pool for the first time this season. Despite suffering a hamstring injury in the first round of the conference championship last weekend, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native carries a 7-3 record into the national tournament. He earned himself a spot in the Mountaineers’ starting lineup on Jan. 31 and has registered three wins over opponents ranked inside several wrestling publications this season. Redding landed on the podium at the Big 12 Championship last weekend, placing third.

At 165 pounds, No. 21 Hall (13-4) will take on No. 12 Jake Keating (10-3) of Virginia in the first round. Hall, a native of Chester, West Virginia, earned his first bid to nationals with a fourth-place finish at the conference tournament last weekend. Keating also looks to compete on the national stage for the first time in his career after posting a runner-up finish in his respective bracket at the ACC Championships on Feb. 28. The two wrestlers have not met this season.

No. 20 Adams (13-3) will square off against No. 24 Benjamin Smith (5-4) of Cleveland State in the first round of the 197-pound pool for the second time this season. The two went head-to-head on Jan. 23, with Adams earning an 8-2 decision over Smith. The Coal City, West Virginia, native most recently placed third at the Big 12 Championship. Smith earned his automatic qualifying spot after finishing second at the MAC Championships on Feb. 27.

The first round of competition starts at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 18.

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