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Camacho falls one win shy of All-American honors after 4 OT loss

North Carolina State’s Jakob Camacho (125) drives against Virginia’s Patrick McCormick earlier this season. (Photo courtesy North Carolina State Wrestling)

West Virginia junior Killian Cardinale is on a roll. Cardinale won three straight consolation round bouts Friday at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships in St. Louis including a four overtime win over North Carolina State’s Jakob Camacho at 125 pounds to earn All-American honors.

Camacho, the sophomore from Danbury, finished one victory shy of earning All-American honors in his first appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Cardinale (16-5) outlasted Camacho, 6-5, with an escape in the first half of the fourth overtime period. He then rode out Camacho in the second 30 seconds of the fourth OT to advance to Saturday’s consolation semifinals and an opportunity to win a medal.

Camacho, the No. 6 seed, won two matches on the opening day of the tournament to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals where he ran into No. 3 seed Brandon Courtney of Arizona State, who earned a 4-2 victory to remain undefeated. Courtney (15-0) won his semifinal match in overtime over Taylor Lamont of Utah Valley University and will face the heavily-favored Spencer Lee of Iowa in the championship match on Saturday.

Against Cardinale, Camacho (10-4) grabbed a quick 2-0 lead with the first takedown of the match. No. 17 Cardinale cut the lead in half with a first period escape and took a 4-2 lead in the second period with another escape and takedown.

Camacho cut the lead to one with an escape of his own with 1:19 left in the second period and tied it at 4-4 with an escape with 1:41 left in regulation.

After a scoreless one minute overtime period, the two wrestlers went to a second OT where they could get 30 seconds to ride their opponent. Camacho escaped with 18 seconds remaining in his 30 second session to take a 5-4 lead. Cardinale escaped with five seconds remaining in his 30-second period on a sit out and switch to tie the bout at 5-5.

The third overtime period was one minute in the neutral position and no one scored.

The fourth OT session was again 30 seconds for each wrestler. Cardinale escaped with 22 seconds remaining his 30-second session for a 6-5 lead. Cardinale was able to ride out Camacho for 30 seconds to earn the win.

Cardinale’s tournament began with a one-point win, 7-6, over Codi Russell of Appalachian State thanks to an escape with 37 seconds left in regulation.

Against Courtney, Camacho had a 2-1 lead with 1:11 left in the third period on two escapes. But Courtney was able to use his scrambling ability to get a takedown with 1:30 remaining to take a 3-2 lead. Camacho had two good shots at takedown but wasn’t able to finish due to Courtney’s defense.

“I knew (Camacho) wasn’t much of a rider and I’m not much a rider myself,” Courtney said. “So, it would come down to neutral (position) and that is where he is good and I am good at that, too. I just came out on top.”

Only four wrestlers from Connecticut have earned All-American honors at the NCAA Division I tournament and the last one was Danbury native Kevin Jack (141) of North Carolina State in 2018 when he finished sixth.

Camacho was one of five North Carolina State wrestlers to advance to the quarterfinals and helped his team to move into fourth place after the first day of wrestling in the tournament. The Wolfpack were fourth with 21 points following Iowa (33½), Penn State (28) and Missouri (23½). Oklahoma State was fifth with 20 points with Arizona State (19½) close behind.

The tournament is being held at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis with a limited and a sparse audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a lot quieter without the Iowa fans,” said top-seeded Spencer Lee (125) of Iowa.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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