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Ethan Oakley
Ethan Oakley picked up a win at the 133 pound weight class.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Wrestling Season Ends at NCAA Championship

The final day of a record-breaking season for App State Wrestling began with an uplifting NCAA Championships victory by Ethan Oakley, who started the season as a backup.

That was the bright spot during a difficult Day 1 at the BOK Center, as all five Mountaineer entries suffered two losses in the double-elimination event. App State actually had six wrestlers qualify to make the trip to Tulsa, but an illness forced two-time All-American Jon Jon Millner to withdraw early in the week.

Oakley, Caleb Smith, Tommy Askey, Will Formato and Will Miller represented the Mountaineers on Thursday, with Oakley, Askey and Miller all making their NCAA debut as first-year starters.

They were all key contributors to a team that won a SoCon regular-season championship, earned a national ranking of No. 20 with a 12-2 dual record and rolled to a decisive victory at the SoCon Championship tournament before traveling to Oklahoma.

In a pigtail match against North Dakota State’s McGwire Midkiff to kick off Session 1, Oakley won 5-3 by taking a 2-1 lead on a takedown with 30 seconds left in the second period and increasing his lead to 5-2 on another takedown with 45 seconds left in the third period.

That victory earned Oakley a matchup against top-ranked Penn State star Roman Bravo-Young, who is unbeaten since the start of the 2019-20 season with national titles in 2021 and 2022. Oakley took the first shot in his 12-3 loss to Bravo-Young.

In Oakley’s next match against 16th-ranked Joe Heilmann, who transferred from North Carolina to Rutgers, Oakley took a 4-3 lead on a takedown early in the third period. Heilmann regained the lead with a reversal and prevailed 7-4, ending a 21-win season for Oakley, who became the starter following a mid-January injury to Sean Carter.

Smith and Askey wrestled well in 3-2 losses to a pair of previous All-Americans in West Virginia’s Killian Cardinale and Michigan’s Will Lewan. A single takedown proved to be the difference in each match, despite Askey nearly scoring several times against his top-10 opponent.

Smith followed his opening-round match with a 7-2 loss to Northwestern’s Michael DeAugustino, who finished fourth at last year’s NCAA Championships. Smith was behind 3-2 as he desperately went for a takedown in the closing seconds, and DeAugustino turned that opening into back points for the final margin.

Smith capped a 26-7 season with matches in Tulsa against a 2021 All-American who has advanced to the quarterfinal round and a 2022 All-American.

Formato qualified for the NCAA Championships for the third time in a decorated career that concluded with 90 victories.

Askey won 30 matches in his first season as a starter, and Miller ended his first season as a starter with 24 victories.


125: No. 5 Caleb Smith
R32: L, 3-2 Dec (vs. No. 28 Killian Cardinale, West Virginia)
Conso: L, 7-2 Dec (vs. No. 12 Michael DeAugustino, Northwestern)

133: No. 33 Ethan Oakley
Pigtail: W, 5-3 Dec (vs. No. 32 McGwire Midkiff, North Dakota State)
R32: L, 12-3 MD (vs. No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young, Penn State)
Conso: L, 8-4 Dec (vs. No. 16 Joe Heilmann, Rutgers)

157: No. 24 Tommy Askey
R32: L, 3-2 Dec (vs. No. 9 Will Lewan, Michigan)
Conso: L, 7-2 Dec (vs. No. 25 Jason Kraisser, Iowa State)

165: No. 27 Will Formato
R32: L, 7-2 Dec (vs. No. 6 Patrick Kennedy, Iowa)
Conso: L, Fall, 1:16 (vs. No. 22 Tanner Cook, South Dakota State)

174: No. 32 Will Miller
Pigtail: L, 8-4 Dec (vs. No. 33 John Worthing, Clarion)
Prelim Conso: L, 12-6 Dec (vs. No. 30 Jackson Turley, Rutgers)