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Preview of Semi-Finals Matches at Las Vegas Invite



PRIMM, NV. - Going into the semi-final round of the 19th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite, it appears to be a three team race for the team title. The quarterfinal round had a few surprises, but was definitely not short on action. The semi-finals will definitely prove to be more of the same. Three teams look to have a shot at the team title, with Illinois in first place with 89 points. Mark Johnson's fighting Illini have five in the championship round and four in the consolation round. The second place team is the University of Nebraska. Under the guidance of first year head coach Mark Manning and a young but impressive staff, the cornhuskers have advanced four in the semi-final round but only have one wrestler alive in the consolation round. This will definitely hurt Nebraska's team title hopes. The third place team are the Sundevil's of Arizona State with seventy two points. Coach Lee Roy Smith have three wrestlers in the championship round and three in the consolation round. They have two solid title contenders and do have the fire power to pull a few upsets. The following are weight-by-weight previews of the semi-final round. 125 -- Number one seed and 1999 NCAA Champion Stephen Abas has dominated throughout on his way to the semi's. He will face Nebraska freshman Jason Powell. Powell, a very exciting, go for broke wrestler has been a crowd favorite here in Vegas. Powell dominated Navarro from Oregon State by a 10-0 score in the quarters. Look for Powell to probably try and slow down the tempo in his match with Abas. The other semi-finals match will be Ben VomBaur of Boise State and A.J. Grant of Michigan. VonBaur is unseeded but is wrestling well, along with the entire Boise State team. Grant, the number six seed, defeated Chuck Connor of North Carolina in convincing fashion in the semi-finals by a score of 9-1. 133 -- The number one seed at this weight class, Rob Loper, took a fall in the quarterfinals to the number nine seed Derrick Hayes of Fresno State by a score of 6-4. Hayes will now face the number 12 seed Brian Watson of Oregon in the semi-finals. With the defeat of Loper, the favorite now becomes Todd Beckerman of Nebraska. Beckerman pinned Jeff Ratliff of Ohio State in the quarterfinals in 1:40 and appears to be greatly improved over last year's All-American showing. Beckerman will face David Douglas of Arizona State. Douglas scored an impressive technical fall by a score of 17-2 over Mike Messina of Boston University. 141 -- Eric Larkin has looked extremely focused throughout his first three matches. He will face Donnie DeFilippis of George Mason after posting a 17-8 victory over David Dies of Brown Univeristy. Defilippis won a close 11-10 match over the number 12 seed Ralph Lopez of Fresno State. The number two seed Sean Gray of Virginia had a close match in the quarterfinals with Shane Cunanan of Oregon State, but still walked away with a 9-7 win. Gray will face South Dakota State's Paul Konechne in the semi-finals. Konechne defeated Matt Goldstein of Lehigh in the quarterfinals by a score of 4-1. 149 -- Number one seed Adam Tirapelle of Illinois has looked sharp early on, and looks to continue his performance in the semi's. In the quarter's, Tirapelle shut down Kulczycki of Michigan by a score of 12-4. He will face the number four seed Ryan Shapert of Edinboro. Shapert beat Bentley of North Carolina in a close 5-4 match. The other semifinal bout will feature Dave Esposito of Lehigh against Scott Frohardt of Air Force. Esposito defeated Harvard Freshman Jesse Jantzen in a close 6-3 match. Frohardt defeated number eleven seed Malik Elliot of Boston Univeristy by a score of 6-1. 157 -- Kirk White of Boise State has dropped down from 165 where he won a National Title in 1999. He seems to be adapting well to the weight change and has looked sharp early on. White will face Eric Jorgensen in the semi-finals after defeating Rocky Smart of Arizona State 3-2 in the quarters. Jorgensend defeated Shaun Shapert of Edinboro in an action packed match, 9-5. Number two seed Bryan Snyder of Nebraska defeated number seven seed Nathan Vasquez of Fresno State, 8-4. Snyder will face West Virginia's Joe Carr. Carr has had a few close matches up to this point, but looked good in the quarterfinals by defeating Zach Doll of Pittsburgh, 8-2. 165 -- Senior Steve Blackford of Arizona State has dominated since his first round match, in which he escaped with a 13-11 victory. Since the first round, Blackford has a fall and a major decision and looks to be back on track for the finals. He will face number five seed Matt Lackey of Illinois, who defeated number four seed Carl Fronhofer in a thrilling tiebreaker, 2-1. Number two seed Chris Martin of Virginia moved to the semi-finals after defeating number ten seed Eddie Gifford of Fresno State, 9-2. Martin will face number six seed Clint Wattenberg. Wattenberg defeated number three seed Ian Nelms of Bakersfield in the quarterfinals by a score of 4-0. 174 -- Edinboro's powerful Josh Koscheck has had a great tournament, collecting two falls along the way. He defeated Ati Connor of Nebraska, 4-0 and is looking to advance to the finals. He will first have to go through number four seed Nathan Coy of Oregon State. Coy defeated number five seed Steve Strange by a 9-7 score in the quarterfinals. Number two seed Eric Hall advanced to the semi-finals with a tight 6-5 victory of Steve Schenk of Wyoming. He will face Ben King of Illinois, who advacned to the semi-finals with a 4-2 victory over number three seed Corey Bell of North Carolina. An upset is possible in the King vs. Bell match, as Mark Johnson has his Illini team wrestling very well. 184 -- Senior Doug Lee appears to be on a mission at this tournament and is a serious contender for the Outstanding Wrestler Award. He had three victories with major decisions in all of his matches, including a 15-4 victory in the quarterfinals over Josh States of Buffalo. Lee will face number four seed Nate Patrick of Illinois. Patrick defeated Tyson Thivierge of Montana State Northern in the quarterfinals. The other semi-final match will place Rob Rohn of Lehigh, the number two seed, against sixth seeded Steve Saxlund of North Dakota State. Rohn escaped with a 13-10 victory over Francis Volpe of Harvard in the quarterfinals, while Saxlund defeated number three seed Cash Edwards of Boise State in the upset victory, 7-5. 197 -- The semifinals of this weight will definitely be entertaining with all four athletes following their anticipated seeds. Number one seed, defending NCAA Champion Brad Vering has dominated all the way to the semi-finals and will face number four seed Rusty Cook of Boise State. Cook defeated number five seed Corey Anderson of Cornell by a 2-1 score. Vering defeated Wyoming's Craig Rumsey in a convincing 16-6 major decision. The other semi-final will feature number two seed Pat Quirk of Illinois against number three seed Chael Sonnen of Oregon. Quirk narrowly defeated Jack Dennis of Colby Community College, 3-2, while Sonnen scored the fall at 0:51 over Richard Paulikonas of Lassen. Hwt. -- This has been an upset filled weight class with two freshman taking the spotlight in the quarterfinals. Number one seed John Lockhart of Illinois was defeated by freshman Ryan Kehler, the number eight seed by a tight 3-2 score. Kehler will face fifth seed Josh Pearce of Edinboro, the number five seed. Pearce defeated Matt Kenny of North Carolina in the quarterfinals, 3-2. The other semi-final match will feature tenth seeded frehsman Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State and numnber three seed Jason Cooley of Oregon State. In the quarterfinals, Rowlands defeated second seeded Matt Brink of Michigan in a close 3-2 match. Cooley has dominated his competition and had collected two falls and a major decision on his way to the semi-finals. The winner of this weight class could hold a decisive lead in the rankings for this wide open weight class this year.
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