2010 CKLV Invitational Preview

Andrew Hipps

12/2/2010
Andrew Hipps, InterMat Senior Editor
andrew@intermatwrestle.com, Twitter: @InterMat

This year's field for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational is perhaps the strongest the event has seen since its inception in 1982. The event, which takes place Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, has 36 teams competing, with 10 ranked in the InterMat Top 25. The InterMat Top 25 teams competing include No. 1 Cornell, No. 2 Boise State, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 10 Central Michigan, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 16 Illinois, No. 19 Virginia Tech, No. 20 Ohio State, and No. 23 Hofstra.

Two No. 1-ranked wrestlers on teams competing in the event, Kyle Dake of Cornell (149) and Kirk Smith of Boise State (184), will not compete. Still, three other No. 1-ranked wrestlers are expected to compete: Zack Bailey of Oklahoma (141), Andrew Howe of Wisconsin (165), and Mack Lewnes of Cornell (174). In all, over 80 nationally-ranked wrestlers are expected to compete.

InterMat will be providing coverage throughout the two-day event. Coverage will include session recaps, interviews, and a live blog.

For a complete listing of teams, event schedule, and more, visit http://www.cklvwrestle.com.

Below is a weight-by-weight breakdown. Field subject to change.

125: Two-time All-American Anthony Robles (Arizona State), who is ranked third, has looked dominant of late. He had a technical fall victory over Minnesota's Zach Sanders at the NWCA All-Star Classic. Look for Robles, who was runner-up in this event last season, to be challenged by true freshman Logan Stieber (Ohio State), who comes into the event ranked fifth. This will be the first major test for the precocious Stieber in his young college wrestling career. He has lived up to his billing thus far. Stieber began the season with technical falls victories over Pittsburgh's Anthony Zanetta (18-3) and Nebraska's Shawn Nagel (18-0). Eighth-ranked Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma) is a returning NCAA qualifier who is expected to challenge. He was thumped by Robles, 16-1, on Nov. 18. Ben Kjar (Utah Valley), who is ranked 11th, is a returning NCAA qualifier and placed seventh in this event last season. Jarrod Garnett (Virginia Tech), who is ranked 14th, is off to a bit of a slow start this season, but has the potential to challenge in this weight class. Other ranked wrestlers in this weight class who could compete include No. 16 Steve Bonanno (Hofstra), No. 17 Jason Lara (Oregon State), and No. 19 Frank Perrelli (Cornell). Alan Bartelli (Boise State) placed sixth in this event last season, but comes in unranked.

133: Andrew Hochtrasser (Boise State), who is ranked second, is the favorite in perhaps the deepest weight class of the tournament. Hochstrasser was in All-American in 2009, but was ineligible for postseason competition in 2010. He fell to Oklahoma State's top-ranked Jordan Oliver, 8-7, at this year's NWCA All-Star Classic. Tyler Graff (Wisconsin) is a returning All-American who placed third in this event last season. He lost twice to Hochstrasser last season. Filip Novachkov (Cal Poly) was a runner-up at this event last season at 141 pounds, but moved down a weight class this season. Novachkov, who is ranked fifth, has not competed yet this season, but is expected to wrestle in Las Vegas. Sixth-ranked Scotti Sentes (Central Michigan) was an All-American two seasons ago, but came up short of All-American honors last season. He has been dominant this season. Seventh-ranked Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) has been one of the most impressive freshmen this season. He is 12-1, with his one loss coming to Graff. Another wrestler who should challenge in this weight class is three-time CAA champion and NCAA qualifier Lou Ruggirello (Hofstra). The Hofstra senior who is coming off a redshirt season, has proven that he can compete with and beat the nation's best. Other ranked wrestles in this weight class include No. 11 Kelly Kubec (Oregon State), No. 12 Ian Paddock (Ohio State), No. 14 Flint Ray (Utah Valley), No. 15 Ben Ashmore (Arizona State), and No. 19 B.J. Futrell (Illinois).

141: This weight class is very top heavy with six of the nation's top 10 wrestlers and the top three. No. 1 Zack Bailey (Oklahoma), a returning All-American, finished third in this event last season, which included a victory over 2010 NCAA champion Kyle Dake of Cornell. Second-ranked Jimmy Kennedy (Illinois) is a two-time All-American and won this event in 2008. He redshirted last season and started this season with a 6-3 win over Missouri's Todd Schavrien. Third-ranked Kellen Russell (Michigan), like Kennedy, is coming off a redshirt season. Russell is a two-time Big Ten champion and 2009 All-American. He will be looking for his second title at this event after winning it as a true freshman in 2007. Chris Diaz (Virginia Tech), who is ranked sixth, is 10-1 this season. Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly) was a champion at this event last season at 133 pounds, but has switched weight classes this season with brother Filip. Mike Mangrum (Oregon State) is an NCAA qualifier who comes into this event ranked 10th. He failed to place in this event last season. Other ranked wrestlers who could compete include No. 13 Levi Jones (Boise State), No. 16 Elijah Nacita (Cal State Bakersfield), and No. 17 Cole Von Ohlen (Air Force). Chris Villalonga (Cornell) is a talented true freshman to keep your eye on.

149: With NCAA champion Kyle Dake (Cornell) out until the Southern Scuffle, third-ranked Jason Chamberlain (Boise State) is the likely No. 1 seed. Chamberlain placed fourth in this event last season and reached the round of 12 at the NCAAs. Corey Jantzen (Harvard), who is ranked seventh, won this event two seasons ago and is coming off a redshirt season. He has a career record of 34-15 and possesses a lot of skills. Brian Stephens (Virginia Tech), an NCAA qualifier last season, is 10-2 this season. Ivan Lopouchanski (UNC Greensboro), who is ranked No. 12, has been the SoCon Wrestler of the Week each of the past two weeks. He recently notched a 6-2 win over three-time NCAA qualifier Kurt Kinser (Indiana), who will also be competing in Las Vegas. Sixth-year senior Brandon Radar (West Virginia), a two-time All-American, has been hampered by injuries throughout much of his collegiate wrestling career. Radar, who is ranked 14th, placed third in this event as a true freshman in 2006. Cole Schmitt (Wisconsin), who is ranked 18th, comes into the event with a 7-2 record. His losses this season have come to Lopouchanski and Stevens. Justin Accordino (Hofstra), who is ranked 19th, has started the season 3-2. Corey Manson (Cornell) and Eric Grajales (Michigan) could also make some noise in this weight class.

157: Three of the nation's top four wrestlers are expected to compete in this weight class. Second-ranked Bubba Jenkins (Arizona State), a 2008 NCAA runner-up, has been hot and cold this season. He dropped a match to Tyler Chang of Embry-Riddle and has looked vulnerable at times, but hammered then-No. 1 Adam Hall (Boise State), 12-4, at the NWCA All-Star Classic. Hall, who is ranked third, will be looking for revenge this weekend. He was a runner-up at this event last season and placed third at the NCAAs. Fourth-ranked Colt Sponseller (Ohio State) was a runner-up at this event last season at 165 pounds. Sponseller has had a great career as a Buckeye, compiling 30 or more wins in each of the past two seasons, but is still looking for his first All-American medal in his final campaign. Paul Young (Indiana), like Sponseller, made the move down from 165 pounds for his senior season. Young, a two-time NCAA qualifier who is ranked sixth, has started the season 9-1. Bryce Saddoris (Navy), an All-American in 2009, placed sixth in this event last season and is currently ranked eighth. Pete Yates (Virginia Tech) is 13-0 and ranked No. 11. Colton Salazar (Purdue), a Big Ten runner-up last season, placed eighth in this event last season while wrestling with a broken rib. Other ranked wrestlers expected to compete include No. 15 Barrett Abel (Cal Poly), No. 16 Matt Lester (Oklahoma), and No. 20 D.J. Meagher (Cornell).

165: After Nebraska's Jordan Burroughs announced that he will be moving up to 165 pounds, many wrestling fans looked forward to the possibility of a Burroughs-Andrew Howe (Wisconsin) match in Las Vegas. But for the first time since 2006, Nebraska will not compete in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, so the match will have to wait until possibly the Midlands at the end of the month. Howe, an NCAA champion last season, won this event a year ago. He has been on a tear lately. After going 37-0 en route to winning the NCAA title in March, he captured a U.S. Open title in April and a Sunkist Kids International Open title in October. Fourth-ranked Justin Kerber (Cornell) comes in with a perfect record of 11-0. Last season, Kerber reached the round of 12 at the NCAAs before losing to Iowa's Ryan Morningstar in tiebreaker. P.J. Gillespie (Hofstra) has started the season 5-0 and is ranked sixth. Two-time All-American Mike Miller (Central Michigan) was an NCAA runner-up in 2009, but has battled injuries and inconsistency since. He took a loss last weekend to Appalachian State's Kyle Blevins. Other ranked wrestlers who could compete include No. 14 Donnie Jones (West Virginia), No. 18 Ryan DesRoches (Cal Poly), and No. 19 Chase Nelson (Oklahoma).

174: Four All-Americans are expected to compete in this weight class. Top-ranked Mack Lewnes (Cornell) will be looking for his third straight title in Las Vegas. Last season, Lewnes went 40-1 and finished as the NCAA runner-up. He had not surrendered a single takedown all of last season until his NCAA finals match against Iowa's Jay Borschel. Jordan Blanton (Illinois) was a fifth-place finisher at the NCAAs last season. Sixth-ranked Ben Bennett (Central Michigan) became an All-American last season as a freshman, placing sixth. He was edged by Blanton, 3-2, in the fifth-place match at the NCAAs. Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma), like Miller, became a freshman All-American, but did so down a weight class at 165 pounds. He comes in with a 9-0 record and is ranked seventh. Colby Covington (Oregon State), who is ranked No. 12, had 40 wins last season and took Lewnes into overtime in the NCAA quarterfinals before losing. You can expect Covington to be hungry after failing to place in Las Vegas a year ago and then coming short of All-American honors. Luke Manuel (Purdue), who is ranked 13th, placed third in this weight class last season and should figure into the mix. He lost in overtime to Covington at the NCAAs last season. Ryan Patrovich (Hofstra), who is ranked 15th, placed fifth in Las Vegas last season. He defeated Lewnes in the first round of the NCAAs in 2009. Ben Jordan (Wisconsin) is coming off a strong redshirt season and should be a factor in this weight class.

184: Defending Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational champion Kirk Smith (Boise State) is being held out of this year's event. Fourth-ranked Steve Bosak (Cornell) and fifth-ranked A.J. Kissel (Purdue) become the two frontrunners. Bosak, who reached the round of 12 at the NCAAs last season, comes into the event with a 9-0 record. Kissel, a two-time NCAA qualifier who is coming off a redshirt season, is 6-0 this season. NCAA qualifier Travis Rutt (Wisconsin), who is ranked 11th, went 3-0 at the ACC Challenge, which included victories over two ranked opponents. Luke Rebertus (Navy) is 6-0 and ranked 12th. Eric Schmidke (Oklahoma), who is ranked 13th, has the ability to challenge in this weight class. He defeated then-No. 5 Chris Perry of Oklahoma State, 11-3, earlier this season. No. 15 Andrew Saunders (UNC Greensboro) and No. 16 Tommy Spellman (Virginia Tech) are solid competitors who should figure into the mix. Saunders edged Spellman, 4-3, earlier this season.

197: Two-time All-American Cam Simaz (Cornell) placed third in this event last season and is expected to be the No. 1 seed. Simaz began the season as the top-ranked wrestler before losing to Kent State's Dustin Kilgore, 10-9, in the finals of the Body Bar Invitational. Trevor Brandvold (Wisconsin) was a Big Ten champion and All-American last season. Two of his six losses last season came to Simaz. Logan Brown (Purdue), a three-time NCAA qualifier, reached the semifinals in this event last season before placing fifth. Brown lost to Simaz in this event a year ago and twice to Brandvold last season. Anthony Biondo (Michigan) placed sixth in this event last season after injury defaulting out of the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record. He notched a victory over Simaz, 8-6, to reach the semifinals. Biondo compiled 35 wins last season, but came up short of All-American honors. Last season, Biondo lost twice to Brandvold and split with Brown. Matt Powless (Indiana), a 30-match winner and NCAA qualifier last season, is ranked 18th. He placed eighth in this event last season. Riley Orozco (Cal State Bakersfield), a three-time NCAA qualifier, comes into this event ranked 19th.

285: The heavyweight class is one of the more wide open weight classes. Jarod Trice (Central Michigan) is the lone All-American in the group. Trice dropped a match at the NWCA All-Star Classic to American's Ryan Flores, but otherwise has been perfect. He edged ninth-ranked Tony Nelson of Minnesota, 3-2, last weekend. Clayton Jack (Oregon State), who is ranked 10th, went 5-2 in this event last season to place seventh. He had 35 wins last season and qualified for the NCAAs. Nathan Fernandez (Oklahoma), who is ranked 11th, finished a strong third place in this event a year ago. He went 1-2 at the NCAAs last season and was knocked out by Trice, 3-2. Other ranked wrestlers in this weight class include No. 13 Eric Bugenhagen (Wisconsin), No. 16 Atticus Disney (Cal Poly), No. 17 Ricky Alcala (Indiana), No. 18 David Morgan (Cal State Bakersfield), and No. 19 Kurt Klimek (Cal State Fullerton).

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