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TheMat.com moving to USOC website platform with new look and functionality

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

Terry Shockley named Chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Shockley will succeed long-time chairman Jim Keen. Sr. as Chairman of the Board....

Iowa's Tony Ramos determined to finish career with NCAA title

The Hawkeye senior will battle Virginia Tech's Devin Carter in the NWCA All-Star Classic on Saturday....

NCAA announces finalist cities for its championships for 2014-18, including wrestling at all levels

Cleveland, Kansas City, Louisville, New York City, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia & St. Louis are Div. I finalists. Div. II and III finalists also announced....



Illinois captures team title at Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite



PRIMM, NV. The University of Illinois ran away with the team title at the 19th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational here in Primm, NV. But maybe the most interesting perspective of the whole tournament was the balance of very solid teams from second through tenth place. If this event is any indication, this college season will come down to who has the most balanced team rather than the strongest individual weights. Team Champion Illinois qualified five wrestlers into the finals and came away with three champions. Runner-up Nebraska went a perferct three for three in finals action, while Lehigh had a great second day to come from way behing early in the team standings to their final third place finish. Here is a match by match breakdown of the championship finals. 125 Here we saw an easy choice for the finals in Stephen Abas of Fresno State, the number one seed and the surprise of the weight class, A.J. Grant of Michigan, seeded sixth. This was a very active match for Abas after getting off to a slow start in the first period. Abas scored first at 1:40 of the first period with a nice double leg takedown for a 2-0 lead. Abas chose down in the second period and reversed right away for a 4-0 lead and a quick 2 point nearfall off of a tilt at 1:45 for a 6-0 lead midway through the second period. Grant escaped for 1 point at 1:40 to cut the deficit to 6-1. Abas then scored on his feet again off of a double leg counter to go up 8-1 with 30 seconds. Grant managed an escape only to be taken down again on an nice double leg. Abas closed out the match with a 10-2 victory. 133 Number two seed Todd Beckerman from Nebraska, a returning All-American faced twelth seeded Brian Watson of Oregon for the title. The first period was a chess match with both wrestlers feeling each other out with very active hand fighting. To begin the second period, Watson chose down and escaped at 1:30 to take the lead over Beckerman 1-0. Going into the third period, Beckerman still trailed by a 1-0 margin, but chose down and escaped within 10 seconds to knot the score at 1-1. Beckerman then scored the takedown at 1:45 of the third period, countering a quick shot from Watson to take the lead at 3-1. Watson did escape at :37 seconds of the third period, but it proved to be too little too late. Add the one point riding time for Beckerman, and the final score for Beckerman was 4-2. 141 Eric Larkin definitely lived up to his billing in his finals match against number two seed, Sean Gray of Virginia Tech. Larkin rolled up an impressive and convincing 11-3 major decision over the returning All-American Gray. Larkin started the first period by scoring a takedown off of a throw by at 2:16. Gray escaped right away to narrow the score to 2-1, but Larking was looking for…and eventually hit a duck under with 50 seconds left in the period to go up by a score of 4-1. Larkin then opened the match wide open with 2 points for a nearfall to go up by a score of 6-1 after the first period. In the second period, Gray chose down to begin and scored a 2 point reversal to narrow the gap at 6-3. Larkin answered by reversing Gray with only 10 seconds left in the period for a commanding 8-3 lead. Larkin continued to roll in the match after he chose down to begin the third period and reversed Gray for a 10-3 lead. Add on the riding time point for his dominant and intense riding, you have a very impressive 11-3 major decision. 149 This was another bout that featured the top two seeds of the weight class. Adam Tirapella of Illinois and Dave Esposito of Lehigh have battled each other now in thrilling contests for a few years, and this year would be different at all. After a scoreless first period, Esposito scored first by eacaping at 1:30 of the second period. Tirapelle then nailed Esposito with a beautiful double-leg at 1:20 to go up by a score of 2-1. The score was then tied as Esposito escaped with :25 seconds left in the match. Tirapelle then scored the next four point in the third period by escaping and scoring a takedown at with 50 seconds left in the match to go up by a score of 5-2. Tirapelle secured riding time to take home the title with a score of 6-2 over Esposito. 157 This was without a doubt the best match of the finals. Former NCAA Champion Kirk White of Boise State had dropped down a weight class from 165. Entering Vega, he was the the number one seed and set to wrestl number two seed Bryan Snyder of Nebraska in the finals. This match was a nail-biter from beginning to end with plenty of action from both athletes. Snyder opened up the action in the first period with a double leg takedown for two points at 2:35. White quickly escaped five second later to make the score 2-1 for Snyder. Beginning the second period, White quickly escaped again to tie the score at 2-2. White then scored a takedown at 1:30 to take the lead at 4-2. Snyder then escaped for the one point and later added a takedown from another double leg to take the 5-4 lead. White then escaped at the end of the second period to again tie the score at 5-5. Snyder chose down to begin the third and escaped at 1:40 to grab the 6-5 lead. White then shot furiously at Snyder's legs and almost scored on a double, which ended up being called a stalemate right at the buzzer to give the championship match to Snyder. 165 Number five seed Matt Lackey of Illinois had a brilliant tournament up to his finals match. Could he continue in his finals match against number two seed Chris Martin of Virginia? The action started with Matin scoring a takedown at :43 seconds of the first period. Lackey escaped quickly to make the score 2-1. In the second period, Martin chose down and escaped giving him a 3-1 lead in what would be a rather quiet period. To start the third period, Lackey escaped to narrow the lead to 3-2. Lackey tried several attempts at scoing with no luck, and with only four seconds left in the match, he hit a beautiful lateral drop on Martin to end the match with two points takedown and two points nearfall for a 6-3 victory at the Buzzer. 174 This match was a rather controlled tempo for the number one seed Josh Koscheck of Edinboro as he never was in any real danger of giving up position or points to his finals opponent. He faced Illinois sixth seeded Ben King. Koscheck had two takedowns and a one point escape within the first two period to take a 5-0 lead. King managed an escape, but couldn't score more than one point in the match to give Koscheck a 5-1 victory and the championship to Edinboro's Josh Koscheck. 184 Number four seed Nate Patrick of Illinois and number six seed Steve Saxlund of North Dakota State Univeristy were set to meet in the finals after both scored upsets in the tournament. There was no scoring in the first period. Saxlund scored an escape at :58 of the second period while Patrick finished the period at the buzzer with a two point takedown to go up by a score of 2-1. In the third period, Patrick scored an escape and a takedown right away, while Saxlund only managed an escape. Patrick picked up riding time to finish the bout at 6-2. 197 This was a very low scoring non eventful match by number one seed Brad Vering of Nebraska and Pat quirk of Inninois. Vering is the number one seed, while Quirk is seeded second. There was no scoring throughout the match and overtime, with both wrestlers looking for openings, but neither able to score. The bout then went to an OT tie-breaker in which Vering escaped six seconds into the overtime period for the very close win. Hwt. Number eight seed Ryan Kehler of West Virginia wrestled very well this weekend as did number three seed Jason Cooley. In the finals however, Cooley medical forfeited to give Kehler the championship.
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