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Previewing this weekend’s 2021 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

by Joe Wedra, USA Wrestling

Photo of Yianni Diakomihalis by Tony Rotundo

The 2021 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational begins Friday with an incredibly talented group of competitors set to take the mat at every weight.

Six schools ranked in the top 15 of the latest NWCA coaches poll will be in attendance this weekend: No. 4 Michigan, No. 8 Ohio State, No. 9 Nebraska, No. 11 Cornell, No. 12 Minnesota and No. 15 Purdue.

The event will feature many intriguing storylines for fans to follow, including multiple past NCAA national champions competing. Among those athletes, Stanford’s Shane Griffith (165) and Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis (149) will look to win CKLV titles.

Wrestling begins at 9:00 a.m. pacific time on Friday, December 3. The tournament will wrestle through the quarterfinals on Friday and conclude with semifinals and finals on Saturday. All wrestling can be watched live on FloWrestling.

Below, you can find the pre-seeds and a look at the top contenders at each weight. The rankings (including honorable mentions) are from FloWrestling.

USA Wrestling will post daily updates and recaps from the action in Las Vegas.

125 lbs
1 - #3 Patrick Glory, Princeton
2 - #15 Devin Schroder, Purdue
3 - #7 Malik Heinselman, Ohio State
4 - Jack Medley, Michigan
5 - #16 Joe Manchio, Columbia
6 - HM Brandon Kaylor, Oregon State
7 - HM Jacob Allen, Navy
8 - #23 Tanner Jordan, South Dakota State
9 - HM Jace Koelzer, Northern Colorado

Here’s a weight that will feature the return of one of the sport’s most notable collegiate names – Princeton’s Glory. He will return to the mat after representing Team USA at the 2021 U23 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia and will continue his run looking to be an NCAA title contender. Purdue’s Schroder and Ohio State’s Heinselman should push to challenge Glory for the title here, with plenty of others in the mix.

133 lbs
1 - #6 Chris Cannon, Northwestern
2 - #11 Chance Rich, CSU Bakersfield
3 - #19 Dylan Ragusin, Michigan
4 - #20 Devan Turner, Oregon State
5 - #16 Mosha Schwartz, Northern Colorado
6 - Matt Ramos, Purdue
7 - Haiden Drury, Utah Valley
8 - #22 Job Greenwood, Wyoming
9 - Jake Gliva, Minnesota
10 - HM Anthony Sobotker, Binghamton

Here’s a weight fans will be glued to throughout the event, with names up and down the entry list able to make a run to the finals. Cannon, like Glory, competed for Team USA at the U23 World Championships in Serbia. He’ll be challenged by five others who are in the top 25 of FloWrestling’s rankings. Rich, a redshirt sophomore at CSU-Bakersfield, took second at the Pac-12 Championships last season. Ragusin, a 2020 Senior Nationals finalist, is another name to watch this weekend in Las Vegas.

141 lbs
1 - #10 Clay Carlson, South Dakota State
2 - #7 Andrew Alirez, Northern Colorado
3 - #8 Chad Red, Nebraska
4 - #11 Grant Willits, Oregon State
5 - #15 Parker Filius, Purdue
6 - HM Dylan D’Emilio, Ohio State
7 - Lawrence Saenz, Cal Poly
8 - #23 Jake Bergeland, Minnesota
9 - HM Angelo Martinoni, CSU Bakersfield
10 - HM Ty Smith, Utah Valley

The lightweights wrap up with a very talented group here at 141 pounds. Carlson, an NCAA All-American a year ago, has the top spot. He’s challenged by Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez, who is down a weight this year and has looked dominant throughout the start of the schedule. Red, a Nebraska standout, is looking to become a four-time All-American this season. Both Willits and Filius, both ranked within FloWrestling’s top 15, should push for a 141-pound title as well.

149 lbs
1 - #1 Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell
2 - #2 Sammy Sasso, Ohio State
3 - #4 Yahya Thomas, Northwestern
4 - #6 Jaden Abas, Stanford
5 - #11 Ridge Lovett, Nebraska
6 - #15 Legend Lamer, Cal Poly
7 - #16 Mitch Moore, Oklahoma
8 - #23 Kanen Storr, Michigan
9 - #21 Michael Blockhus, Minnesota
10 - HM Zach Price, South Dakota State
11 - HM Cory Crooks, Oregon State

Of the weights to watch in Las Vegas this weekend, 149 pounds might be the one where fans have calendars marked to not miss the action. This is the only weight that features the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked wrestlers in the country with Diakomihalis and Sasso leading the way. There will be no shortage of great wrestling, even in the early rounds, with nine wrestlers in FloWrestling’s top 25 set to take the mat this weekend. Thomas is back under the national spotlight this weekend after finishing third at last year’s NCAAs as the No. 25 seed. Abas, Lovett and Lamer round out the top six, all ranked within the top 15.

157 lbs
1 - #2 Ryan Deakin, Northwestern
2 - #6 Quincy Monday, Princeton
3 - #7 Peyton Robb, Nebraska
4 - #12 Kendall Coleman, Purdue
5 - #16 Jacob Wright, Wyoming
6 - #17 Justin Thomas, Oklahoma
7 - #9 Will Lewan, Michigan
8 - #14 Hunter Willits, Oregon State
9 - HM Andrew Cerniglia, Navy
10 - #23 Bryce Hepner, Ohio State
11 - HM Dazjon Casto, The Citadel

Many around the country are talking about the talent this season at 157 pounds, and for good reason. Many of the nation’s top athletes will compete this weekend. Deakin, a three-time NCAA All-American and finalist for the 2020 Hodge Trophy, leads the way. He’s followed by Monday, who returns to the mat for Princeton after the team did not compete last year. Robb, who knocked off NCAA champion Austin O’Connor earlier this year, is the third seed. Two other wrestlers in FloWrestling’s top 15 will compete this weekend – Lewan and Coleman, both past NCAA All-Americans.

165 lbs
1 - #2 Evan Wick, Cal Poly
2 - #4 Shane Griffith, Stanford
3 - #13 Carson Kharchla, Ohio State
4 - #14 Cam Amine, Michigan
5 - #17 Phil Conigliaro, Harvard
6 - #15 Julian Ramirez, Cornell
7 - HM Tanner Cook, South Dakota State
8 - #21 David Ferrante, Northwestern
9 - Joe Grello, Oklahoma
10 - Josh Ogunsanya, Columbia
11 - HM Selwyn Porter, The Citadel

Here’s another weight with great intrigue at the top two spots. Wick, a two-time All-American now competing at Cal Poly, is set to have the chance to knock off Stanford’s Griffith, a defending national champion. Also featured is Cornell’s Ramirez, who has a win over Griffith earlier this year. Ohio State’s Kharchla, who is a perfect 3-0 in dual meets in his first season starting for the Buckeyes, is the third seed. Amine finished seventh at NCAAs last year and can certainly push the field in Las Vegas.

174 lbs
1 - #5 Mikey Labriola, Nebraska
2 - #6 Ethan Smith, Ohio State
3 - #10 Chris Foca, Cornell
4 - #11 Hayden Hastings, Wyoming
5 - #19 Cade DeVos, South Dakota State
6 - #22 Troy Fisher, Northwestern
7 - #15 Gerrit Nijenhuis, Purdue
8 - #17 Aaron Olmos, Oregon State
9 - #20 Jared Krattiger, Minnesota
10 - HM Anthony Mantanona, Oklahoma
11 - Jacob Nolan, Binghamton
12 - HM Tyler Eischens, Stanford
13 - HM Joshua Kim, Harvard
14 - HM Adam Kemp, Cal Poly

In terms of depth and intrigue, 174 pounds might be the weight to watch in this year’s CKLV. Labriola, a three-time NCAA All-American (third in 2021 at 174) leads the field representing Nebraska. Ohio State’s Smith and Cornell’s Foca are the second and third seeds respectively. In total, this weight features nine wrestlers ranked in FloWrestling’s top 25, including No. 11 Hastings and No. 15 Nijenhuis.

184 lbs
1 - #8 Bernie Truax, Cal Poly
2 - #13 Tate Samuelson, Wyoming
3 - #11 Taylor Venz, Nebraska
4 - #20 Jonathan Loew, Cornell
5 - #18 Darrien Roberts, Oklahoma
6 - Kaleb Romero, Ohio State
7 - #16 Max Lyon, Purdue
8 - #23 Travis Stefanik, Princeton
9 - #21 David Key, Navy

This weight is particularly wide open, with Cal Poly’s Truax, fourth at the 2021 NCAAs at 174 pounds, leading the way. Samuelson, a senior at Wyoming who has qualified for NCAAs three times, is second ahead of Venz of Nebraska. Venz, another senior, is a four-time NCAA qualifier and multiple-time All-American. Truax leads the way, but there are many ways this weight could shake out, making it a top grouping to watch leading into the weekend.

197 lbs
1 - #6 Jake Woodley, Oklahoma
2 - #7 Patrick Brucki, Michigan
3 - #9 Stephen Buchanan, Wyoming
4 - #10 Eric Schultz, Nebraska
5 - #11 Lou Deprez, Binghamton
6 - #13 Thomas Penola, Purdue
7 - #12 Tanner Sloan, South Dakota State
8 - #21 Jacob Cardenas, Cornell
9 - #22 Jake Koser, Navy
10 - HM Gavin Hoffman, Ohio State
11 - HM Alan Clothier, Northern Colorado
12 - HM Luke Stout, Princeton
13 - #19 Andrew Davison, Northwestern
14 - Nick Stemmet, Stanford
15 - #15 Michial Foy, Minnesota

Eight of the top 15 wrestlers ranked in FloWrestling’s 197-pound rankings will wrestle at this year’s CKLV, giving fans quite a look at the depth of this weight this season. Oklahoma’s Woodley, who finished sixth at NCAAs last year, is the top seed. Just behind him is Brucki, a Princeton graduate who is now finishing up his collegiate career at Michigan. Wyoming’s Buchanan, a 2021 NCAA All-American, is the third seed. Schultz, Deprez, Penola, Sloan and Foy all are in FloWrestling’s top 15 and will be contenders. Foy turned heads last weekend with a 9-3 decision over Sloan in Minnesota’s dual meet win.

285 lbs
1 - #7 Tate Orndorff, Ohio State
2 - #8 Brian Andrews, Wyoming
3 - #13 Christian Lance, Nebraska
4 - #14 Yaraslau Slavikouski, Harvard
5 - #15 Lucas Davison, Northwestern
6 - HM AJ Nevills, South Dakota State
7 - #18 Josh Heindselman, Oklahoma
8 - Joe Doyle, Binghamton
9 - #20 Jack DelGarbino, Princeton
10 - #21 Gary Traub, Oregon State

At heavyweight, fans will have another weight to watch with plenty of top contenders but no runaway favorite. Orndorff, who finished seventh at the 2021 NCAAs, leads the group. He’s followed by eighth-ranked Andrews, a senior standout from Wyoming. Lance, another Husker star, is ranked third. Two others in the FloWrestling top 15 - Slavikouski and Davison - will push to not just make the finals but to take a crack at the title.

At Las Vegas, Nevada, December 3-4, 2021

Competition schedule
All times listed are U.S. pacific time

Friday, December 3

9:00 a.m.: Preliminary rounds
6:00 p.m.: Quarterfinal and consolation rounds

Saturday, December 4

9:00 a.m.: Consolation rounds
10:00 a.m.: Championship semifinal round, consolation semifinal round, consolation 5th and 7th-place matches
3:00 p.m.: Championship finals and third-place matches
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