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This week, TheMat.com will move to the USOC platform, with a new look, new functionality, but with the same favorite features....

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A look a Saturday's competition at the Las Vegas Invite



Balance is the key word in describing the field at this years 19th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Through the second round of competition, the top ten teams in the standings are all within 10 points of the lead. Every team in contention for the lead has numerous competitors in the championship rounds, but more importantly, several in the contention for valuable placement points. Here is a weight by weight preview of the action up through the second round of competition. 125 Our eight quarterfinalist pretty much went according to seeding. Leading the way is 1999 NCAA Champion Stephen Abas of Fresno State. He has been virtually untested and will face Shawn Williams of Oregon in the round of eight. Jason Powell of Nebraska major decisioned Ryan Escobar of Illinois to earn a birth in the quarters. This may be a surprise to some, but Powell appears to be on fire in this tournament. Powell will face Nathan Navarro of Oregon State. Jose Leon of Boston University will face Clinton Hicks of Brown University. A tough quarter final match should take place when A.J. Grant of Michigan and Chuck Connor of North Carolina meet. The winner of this match very well could and probably should make it to the finals. 133 This appears to be a weight where the top 2 seeds should meet in the finals. Rob Loper of Pittsburgh will meet Derrick Hayes of Fresno State in the field of eight. Shawn Kegal of Buffalo will face Brian Watson of Oregon. Watson defeated Michigan's Foley Dowd by a score of 7-4 in the second round. Ohio State freshman Jeff Ratliff will wrestle Nebraska's senior All-American Todd Beckerman. Beckerman will be a true test for the freshman from Columbus. No. 11 seed Mike Messina scored an upset in the second round over the No. 6 seed Ben Richards of Oregon State, posting a 10-8 decision. Messina will face Arizona State's David Douglas in the quarterfinals. 141 Number one seed Eric Larkin of Arizona State has had his way so far in Vegas. He will face face David Dies of Brown University. Ralph Lopez of Fresno State will face Donald DeFillippis of George Mason University. Number two seed Sean Gray of Virginia Tech appears to be on a collision course with Larkin after he posted a 15-2 major decision over Chad Caros of Edinboro. Gray will face Cunanan of Oregon State in the quarterfinals. Matt Goldstein of Lehigh, the number six seed will take on Paul Konechne of South Dakota State to round out the quarterfinal pairings. 149 Definitely the deepest weight class of the tournament. Every championship match from here on out will be a battle with great upset potential. Senior All-American Adam Tirapelle marched to the quarters and will face Michigan sophomore Mike Kulczyki. John Marc Bentley of North Carolina will face off against Ryan Shapert of Edinboro, in what will surely be a tough match for both competitors. Freshman Jesse Jantzen of Harvard has performed up to his billing and will face the number two seed Dave Esposito of Lehigh. Rounding out the quarterfinals will be Malik Elliot of Boston University and Scott Frohardt of Air Force. 157 This is another entertaining weight class with several All-Americans and former tournament placer winners entered in this year event. Transfer Rocky Smart of Arizona State is set to tangle with former NCAA Champ (165) Kirk White of Boise State. Edinboro's Shaun Shapert will face off against Eric Jorgensen of Oregon State. Jorgensen won the 149 pound title last year here in Vegas. Nathan Vasquez of Fresno State earned a hard fought 6-5 victory over Harvard's Max Odom to get to the round of eight. He will face Bryan Snyder fo Nebraska, the number two seed. Number six seed Joe Carr of West Virginia will face off against Zach Doll of Pittsburgh for the right to wrestle in the semi-finals. 165 Arizona State senior and number one seed Steve Blackford is the clear cut favorite at this weight and looks to be a sure thing for the championship. Blackford will face Martelli of Michigan in the quarters. Carl Fronhofer of Pittsburgh will take on Matthew Lackey of Illinois, while number two seed Chris Martin of Virginia will tangle with Eddie Gifford of Fresno State. Closing out the quarterfinals will be Clint Wattenberg of Cornell University and Ian Nelms of Cal State Bakersfield. 174 Number one seed and All-American Josh Koscheck is definitely the favorite at this weight, especially with the sudden scratch of Otto Olson of Michigan. The much anticapted battle will have to wait until later in the year. But for now, Josh Koscheck of Edinboro has carried on about his business and has dominated this weight. Koscheck will face Nebraska's Ati Connor in the quarters. Nathan Coy of Oregon State will take on Steve Strange of Cal Poly. Eric Hall of Virginia, the number two seed has looked impressive and will wrestle Steve Schenk of Wyoming. Corey Bell of North Carolina will finish out the quarterfinals by wrestling Ben King of Illinois. 184 Number one seed Doug Lee of Oregon has been impressive at the early stages of the tournament. His second round victory by a score of 17-5 over Josh Birt of North Idaho showed the crowd that he is a capable champion. Lee will face Josh States of Buffalo. Nate Patrick of Illinois will wrestle Tyson Thivierge of Montana St. Northern. On the other end of the bracket, Harvard's Francis Volpe will take on the tough Rob Rohn of Lehigh. All-American Cash Edwards, the number three seed, will face Steve Saxlund of North Dakota State. 197 This weight class was originally very deep, but the late withdraw of All-American Nick Preston of Ohio State put a damper on the celebrations. Never the less, still a tough weight class. Nebraska's defending NCAA Champ Brad Vering looks to dominate at all times, and is certainly doing that here in Vegas. He will face Craig Rumsey of Wyoming. Rusty Cook of Boise State will take on Corey Anderson of Cornell University, while All-American Pat Quirk of Illinois will face Jack Dennis of Colby Community College. Number three seed, and the tough greco star Chael Sonnen will wrestle Zack Brientenback of North Carolina State. Hwt This is another very balanced weight class, with the winner surely to face many challenges throughout the year. Number one seed John Lockhart of Illinois will face Ryan Kehler of West Virginia. Josh Pearce of Edinboro will tangle with Matt Kenny of North Carolina, while second seeded Matt Brink will wrestle freshman Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State. Devin Cole of Southern Oregon will finish out the quarterfinals against Jason Cooley of Oregon State for the right to wrestle in the semi-finals.
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