After two sessions of wrestling, six West Virginia University grapplers are alive in the consolation bracket of the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championship held at the BOK Center, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.
Redshirt juniors Killian Cardinale (125) and Noah Adams (197), redshirt sophomore Alex Hornfeck (157) and freshman Peyton Hall (165) remain in contention for third place at their respective weights, while redshirt freshmen Anthony Carman (184) and Michael Wolfgram (HWT) prepare to wrestle for seventh place in their respective brackets.
Unfortunately, session II of the Big 12 Wrestling Championship did not go the Mountaineers’ way. The Old Gold and Blue placed two in the semifinals in Peyton Halll (165) and Noah Adams (197), but both came out on the wrong end of the score.
“Today was up and down. One second you think you are doing alright, and then the next second, you think you are doing terrible. These tournaments can be exhausting, ” West Virginia third-year coach Tim Flynn said.
Hall found himself up 3-1 in the final frame during the semifinals, but that lead wasn’t enough. Hall dropped a close one to the No. 3 seed Cole Moody of Wyoming, losing by way of a 5-4 decision. The match was the second meeting of the season for these two Big 12 middle-weights. In their first meeting, during the regular season, Hall got the better of Moody, winning an equally close 7-6 contest on Feb. 6.
Redshirt junior Noah Adams (197) also found himself on the losing end of a tightly contested match against another Wyoming Cowboy. No. 2-seeded Stephen Buchanan emerged victorious after a 3-2 decision that was knotted at zero heading into the second period of the semifinal bout. This is now the third straight win of the session for Buchanan over Adams. In five matches against one another of their careers, Buchanan now holds a 3-2 record over Adams. Buchanan snapped Adams’ 39-match win streak with an 8-7 win on Feb. 6, followed by a 6-4 victory at the Cowboy Challenge on Feb. 14. Adams topped Buchanan twice in 2020, most notably earning a 7-4 decision in last year’s semifinal match at Big 12s. Buchanan is the only wrestler to beat Adams since Nov. 3, 2019.
“Noah needs to finish his shots and take a few more attempts,” Flynn said. “He said he felt good, but he has to finish his leg attacks. He was behind him once and lifted him up in the air once. We just have to finish those attacks.”
Tomorrow, both Hall and Adams will look to shake off their heartbreaking semifinal setbacks, each still has a shot to finish in third place as they enter the consolation side of the bracket on day two of the event. Both the 165-pound class and the 197-pound class have five pre-allocations for national tournament later this month.
“They both had opportunities to win, that’s the gut-wrenching part,” Flynn said. “I think we gave two matches away, but credit to the kids. You’re just like ‘wow, we are so close to finishing shots.’ It’s almost better sometimes when you get beat soundly because when you let one slip away those hurt.”
Hall and Adams’ Path to the Semifinals
Adams, the No. 3 seed at 197 pounds, received a first-round bye before claiming a hard-fought, 3-2 decision over No. 6-seed Marcus Coleman of Iowa State in the quarterfinals. Adams scored a first-period takedown for the 2-1 advantage. He then used an escape in the second period to increase his lead to two at 3-1. Coleman started the third in the defensive position, cutting his deficit to one with an escape, but it wasn’t enough, as Adams rode out the clock for the victory.
With the win, the Coal City, West Virginia, native advanced to his second consecutive semifinal match at the conference tournament. He faces Wyoming’s Stephen Buchanan, who comes in as the No. 2 seed at 197 pounds, later this evening. The two grapplers will square off for the fifth time overall and the third time this season, with the all-time series tied at 2-2. Buchanan snapped Adams’ 39-match win streak with an 8-7 win on Feb. 6, followed by a 6-4 victory at the Cowboy Challenge on Feb. 14. Adams topped Buchanan twice in 2020, most notably earning a 7-4 decision in last year’s semifinal match.
The No. 2 seed at 165 pounds, Hall picked up a 7-6 victory over Utah Valley’s Koy Wilkinson in the round of 16. The Chester, West Virginia, native then scored a 5-4 win over No. 7-seed Austin Yant of Northern Iowa in the quarterfinal round, advancing to his first Big 12 semifinal match. He squares off with No. 3-seed Cole Moody of Wyoming later this evening. The two previously met on Feb. 6, with Hall claiming a 7-6 decision at Wyoming.
Other Mountaineers in Action
Redshirt junior Killian Cardinale (125) and redshirt freshman Jeffrey Boyd (141) also picked up wins in the round of 16 to start the first session, but later dropped hard-fought battles in the quarterfinals to fall in the consolation pool of their respective weight classes. Cadinale added two more wins during session II later in the evening, including a bonus-point win over his fomer Old Dominion backup, Anthony Molton, who now competes for Fresno State.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Carman, seeded at No. 6, earned a first-round bye in the 184-pound division but suffered a 12-4 setback to No. 3-seed Dakota Geer of Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals to fall in the consolation bracket with the remaining Mountaineers. During session II Carmen when 1-1, including a fall over Jake Thompson (Air Force).
Additionally, redshirt sophomore Alex Hornfeck (157), sophomore Scott Joll (174) and redshirt freshman Michael Wolfgram (HWT) are also battling through the consolation bracket. All are still alive heading into the final day of the event.
WVU sophomore Scott Joll (174) and redshirt freshman Jeffrey Boyd (141) completed their runs at the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championship with first-round losses in their respective consolation brackets. Redshirt freshman Ryan Sullivan also was pulled from the 133-pound pool due to injury in his first match of the day.
Of note, Adams, Cardinale, Hall and Hornfeck will look to earn an automatic qualifying spot in their respective weight classes on Sunday.
As a whole, West Virginia sits in 10th place after two sessions with 43.5 points. Oklahoma leads the team race with 107 points, followed by Wyoming in second with 97 points. Oklahoma State is currently in third with 96 points.
“We just have to wrestle clean and hard,” Flynn said. “We have to want to be there, and I know these kids do. They came back strong in the wrestle-backs tonight. I thought they wrestled well. We are not where we want to be, and a lot of the kids are disappointed, but we already scored more points than last year without 133 and 149. We just have to keep doing what we are doing and compete hard.”
2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championship Schedule (times subject to change)
Saturday, March 6
Session 1: Preliminary & Quarterfinal Matches [Big 12 Now on ESPN+] – 12 noon ET
Session 2: Semifinal & Consolation Quarterfinal Matches [Big 12 Now on ESPN+] – 6p.m. ET
Sunday, March 7
Session 3: Consolation Semifinals, Third & Fifth Place Matches [Big 12 Now on ESPN+] – 11a.m. ET
Session 4: Championship Matches [ESPN2] – 6 p.m. ET
Day One Results
165: Cole Moody (Wyoming) dec. Peyton Hall (West Virginia), 5-4
197: Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming) dec. Noah Adams (West Virginia), 3-2
125: Killian Cardinale (WVU) major dec. Anthony Molton (Fresno State), 9-1
125: Killian Cardinale (WVU) dec. Jace Koelzer (Northern Colorado), 7-3
133: Ty Smith (Utah Valley) won by forfeit Ryan Sullivan (West Virginia), For.
141: Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State) major dec. Jeffrey Boyd (West Virginia), 12-3
157: Alex Hornfeck (West Virginia) dec. Wyatt Sheets (Oklahoma State), 6-3
157: Alex Hornfeck (West Virginia) tech. fall Danny Snediker (Utah Valley), 18-0 [TF-5:40]
174: Dustin Plott (Oklahoma State) dec. Scott Joll (West Virginia), 5-1
184: Anthony Carman (West Virginia) wins by fall Jake Thompson (Air Force), F 7:25 [SV-1]
184: Darrien Roberts (Oklahoma) wins by fall Anthony Carman (West Virginia), F 5:43
HWT: Michael Wolfgram (WVU) dec. Blake Wolters (South Dakota State), 8-3
HWT: Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) dec. Michael Wolfgram (WVU), 9-5