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WVU in the NCAA Wrestling Championships: What to Watch for in St. Louis

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(Image Courtesy of the NCAA)

The West Virginia University wrestlers have arrived at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri, which means that the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships is officially here. With that, 10 national titles and 80 All-American distinction will be up for the taking.

West Virginia third-year head coach Tim Flynn hopes that Killian Cardinale (No. 17 seed 125), Ryan Sullivan (No. 20 seed 133), Peyton Hall (No. 21 seed 165), and Noah Adams (No. 9 seed 197) will be a part of those 80 All-Americans.

Felix Wrestling Academy

“I expect them to compete hard, that’s first and foremost,” Flynn said. “And to represent our school and themselves in a great fashion. But I want them to reach their goals, and I expect them to. I want these kids to compete hard. I know how razor-thin it is between one guy and another. If we’re on and competing hard, we’ll do well.”

Brackets

Brackets can be found here.

Schedule of Events

Chart found at: https://www.ncaa.com/championships/wrestling/d1/broadcast-info

March 18-20 are sure to be a fantastic few days of high-caliber wrestling inside Enterprise Center. Here are five things to watch for:

  1. WVU’s No. 9 seed, Adams looks to once again be on a collision course with Wyoming’s Stephen  Buchanan should both Adams and Buchanan win their opening-round bouts. Buchanan is 3-0 against Adams this season, which brings their career records against one another to 3-2 overall, favoring Buchanan. Adams got the better of Buchanan on two occasions during the 2020 season.
  2. Of note, in 2021, 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. Two of the four grapplers suiting up for the Old Gold and Blue (Sullivan and Hall) are making their first appearance at the national tournament. Let’s hope both can avoid first-match jitters.
  3. Cardinale should have a good scouting report for his first match again No. 16 Codi Russell (16-1) off Appalachian State. Flynn is familiar with Russell after he coached Codi’s older brother, Sean Russell, when was coaching the Edinboro wrestling program prior to his arrival in Morgantown.
  4. Of the four Mountaineers, only Adams has had a match with his opening-round opponent before. Adams took down Ben Smith (Cleveland State) earlier this year in an 8-2 decision, which helped WVU secure the dual meet victory on the road in Cleveland. Cardinale, Sullivan, and Hall have yet to face the individuals they’ve been paired with to begin the tournament.
  5. Expect a participant field rich with talent from nearby Pennsylvania. In total, a tournament-high 49 entrants hail from the Keystone State and many from the WPIAL In particular, which produced WVU wrestlers Sullivan (Shaler), 157-pounder, Alex Horckfect (Mars), and others for the Mountaineer roaster. With that, some old PIAA rivalries are expected to resurface on the college mat at some point during these three days of nonstop wrestling. There are slated to be 17 WPIAL wrestlers at this event. Only five states (IL, OH, CA, and NJ) were able to put more than a total of 17 competitors in the big dace, according to FloWrestling. In total the WVU roster features 10 former PA preps, including six former WPIAL wrestlers.
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