Kearny’s Jacob Cardenas qualifies for the NCAA Wrestling Championships

For the third year in a row, Jacob Cardenas is heading back to the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Cardenas, a Kearny native and senior at Cornell University, was awarded the fifth seed in the 197 pound bracket this past Wednesday. The NCAA Wrestling Champions are set to begin on Thursday and go through Saturday at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, MO.

Cardenas’ first round match is set for Thursday morning when he faces the 28th seed, Jack Wehmeyer of Columbia University. A three-time All-Ivy League, First Team selection, Cardenas enters the match with a 22-6 record on the season and a 65-20 mark for his career. He did not wrestle his freshman year because Cornell’s season was canceled due to Covid.

Cardenas officially punched his ticket to the NCAA Championship on March 9 when he placed second at 197 pounds in the EIWA Championship in Lewisburg, Penn. During the EIWA Championship, Cardenas went 3-1, which included an 11-3 major decision over Wehmeyer in the quarterfinals.

Cardenas’ quest for a second EIWA title was denied when he lost a 6-3 decision to Michael Beard of Lehigh in a rematch of last year’s final. The two could potentially square off again in the quarterfinals on Friday with Beard as the fourth seed in the 33-wrestler field.

This week, Cardenas will be vying for All-American honors for the second consecutive season. Last year, he earned All-American status after placing eighth place at 197 pounds in the NCAA Championships.

A product of the famed Kearny Recreation program, Cardenas, as an eighth grader, won the 152 pound title at the New Jersey 14-and-Under Championships. He then went on to wrestle at Bergen Catholic where he was a two-time state champion at 195 pounds in 2018 and 2019.

Cardenas has also wrestled for Team USA, taking second place at the U23 World Championships at 92 kg in 2022.

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)