Killian Cardinale Feels Responsibility to Win Each Match as WVU’s Leader
MORGANTOWN, WVa.— West Virginia’s Killian Cardinale takes great pride in being the most veteran member of the Mountaineers roster.
Cardinale, the No. 7 ranked wrestler in the nation at 125 pounds, is currently in his sixth season with the Mountaineers, and still remains in the same mindset for every one of his matches. He’s the first on the mat, so he has to score points.
The Bristow, Virginia, native delivered once again on Friday night, kickstarting a string of four consecutive wins over Ohio to begin the match and propelling the Mountaineers to a 28-9 win over the Bobcats inside the WVU Coliseum.
West Virginia Wrestling Claims Redemption, Dominates Ohio for 28-9 Win
“It’s very important to get the momentum rolling right from the start,” Cardinale said. “I know what my job is, and that’s to start it off with a win. If I can get the ball rolling like I did tonight, then I did what I was supposed to do. I want to put my team in a good position at the beginning.”
Cardinale’s 6-2 decision win over Oscar Sanchez marked his first dual meet victory of the season after missing the team’s previous five matches and first two tournament appearances while being sidelined due to injury.
Cardinale made his season debut on Dec. 29 and 30 at the Midlands Championships in Illinois, going 3-0 while the Mountaineers earned a 12th place finish as a team.
“I got the first one out of the way, and that was a whole challenge in itself,” Cardinale said. “I’m just taking it match by match. I’ve had a lot of adversity, but if you look on any college wrestling team, everyone is dealing with something. No one really cares how you feel. You just gotta go out, score points and do the best you can.”
Davin Rhoads followed Cardinale by also taking a 6-2 decision over Gio DiSabato at 133, giving Rhoads his first win of the year after starting with three straight losses.
Jordan Titus cruised by Aidan Waszak 14-2 at 141 before No. 24 ranked Sam Hillegas pinned Pierce Taylor in 1:11 in the 149-pound bout, giving the Mountaineers a 16-0 lead through four matches.
All four Mountaineers started their respective matchups by scoring the first points via an early takedown and never trailed.
“The lightweights started out very strong for us,” Mountaineers head coach Tim Flynn said. “It’s obviously very nice having Killian back in the lineup, too. He gave us a big spark to start the match. Getting out to a good start was crucial. Being in that position definitely gives the guys at the higher weights a confidence boost.”
No. 8 ranked Peyton Hall (165 pounds), No. 14 Anthony Carman (184) and No. 19 Michael Wolfgram (Heavyweight) each also picked up wins for the Mountaineers on Friday.
All three were also in the starting lineup in last season’s 30-9 loss to the Bobcats in Athens, Ohio. Hall and Wolfgram tallied the two West Virginia victories in the defeat.
“Last year, that was a bad loss,” Hall said. “That’s the only way to put it. We only had two matches go our way. It’s nice now to see how much the team is improving since we were able to come out here and get the win.”
Hall defeated Jordan Slivka 10-3, while Wolfgram pinned Jacob Padilla in 2:20 to close out Friday’s win.
Carman’s victory resulted from the redshirt junior, after trailing 4-0, recording a takedown on Zayne Lehman with 17 seconds remaining in the third period to earn a 6-5 comeback win. This avenged a 10-3 loss to Lehman last year.
“This definitely feels a lot better to be on this side at the end, you’re darn right,” Flynn said. “We got clobbered last year. I’m very happy with the way we were able to bounce back and compete better this time around.”
West Virginia improved to 5-1 with the win, marking its best record through six matches under Flynn.
The Mountaineers will travel to face No. 21 Pitt at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fitzgerald Field House. West Virginia is 0-2 against the Panthers with Flynn at the helm.
“We’re all improving and getting better,” Hall said. “As long as we’re sharp and everyone’s focused, we can get it done. We should be good if everyone just has fun and wrestles. We know we have the talent, we just have to deliver.”