Coming off a short recovery cycle following a 28-8 thumping from Iowa last Saturday, the wrestling team is looking to get back on track in Las Vegas this weekend for one of the biggest tournaments of the year. The Cliff Keen Invitational will feature 11 of the top 25 teams (as ranked by Intermat) and 89 ranked wrestlers among the 30+ team field. Appropriately for the location, the team has a lot to gain, or a lot to lose, depending on how they wrestle this weekend.
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Friday & Saturday, December 5th & 6th, all day
Stream: Flowrestling (Subscription required)
|133||#13 Earl Hall||7-2|
|165||#3 Mike Moreno||9-0|
|174||#6 Tanner Weatherman||8-1|
|184||#18 Lelund Weatherspoon||8-1|
|197||#3 Kyven Gadson||9-0|
Weight By Weight Breakdown
Larson has generally been exactly what I expected at 125 for us so far this year. Beating unranked guys, losing to ranked guys, and keeping it close in duals when outmatched. Hopefully the bracket will line up for Larson to get a match or two against one of the lower teens ranked wrestlers so that we can get a gauge for where his ceiling might be this year. And who knows, maybe he can even pick up a quality win for NCAA qualification. I don't expect Larson to end up on the podium on Saturday but I'd like to see him earn at least two wins before getting eliminated.
Expected ranked participants at 125:
|5||Joey Dance||Virginia Tech|
|7||Josh Martinez||Air Force|
|9||Nathan Tomasello||Ohio State|
|12||Josh Rodriguez||North Dakota State|
|20||Zeke Moisey||West Virginia|
Hall is 0-2 against ranked wrestlers since moving up to 133. He's still is holding on to his rankings based on being 7-0 against unranked guys but the closest he has to a signature win so far this season is his major decision over NCAA Qualifier Jade Rauser of Utah Valley. He should get multiple opportunities to prove himself in Vegas, with the 8th, 9th, and 10th ranked guys all in the bracket. Hall will get the chance to state his case for being seeded in the top 8 at NCAAs. But even if he fails to get a win against that group, he should get a match in the consolations against Terao and/or Norstrem to prove that he deserves to stay ranked.
Expected ranked participants at 133:
|8||Johnni DiJulius||Ohio State|
|13||Earl Hall||Iowa State|
|18||Kevin Norstrem||Virginia Tech|
We should see Dante Rodriguez making his second appearance in a Cyclone singlet this weekend. Since we really haven't seen him compete much against non redshirting D-1 competition it is tough to peg expectations - he's got a close loss to #8 Levion Meyes of Missouri and that's about it. Overall I'm just hoping to see him pick up a couple wins to give me reason to think he'll do better this year than Meeks would have. I'd be totally thrilled if he gets a match against one of the 16-18th ranked guys so we can find out whether to expect NCAA points from Dante this season.
Expected ranked participants at 141:
|1||Logan Stieber||Ohio State|
|3||Devin Carter||Virginia Tech|
|18||Sam Speno||North Carolina State|
Gabe Moreno has been sitting just outside the rankings so far this season. With the relative dearth of ranked wrestlers at this weight he should get a seed that will set him up for an eventual matchup with either Ruggirello or Theobold, giving him the chance to get a quality win and with that the bump he needs to start showing up in the rankings.
Expected ranked participants at 149:
|3||Hunter Stieber||Ohio State|
|9||Sal Mastriani||Virginia Tech|
It appears that we're giving redshirt freshman Daniel Woiwer a shot here. Since this'll be the first time he sees the lineup I don't know what to expect. But if it had been Goettl I'd been looking for a couple wins and hopefully knocking off Schieidel or Staudenmayer. Since we're using Wovier over Goettl, I suppose my baseline is looking for him to do the same.
Expected ranked participants at 157:
|5||Nick Brascetta||Virginia Tech|
|6||Josh Demas||Ohio State|
With half of the top ten in attendance, there should some big matchups for Moreno at the high roller tables. Sulzer beat Moreno 13-1 in the consolation semifinals at NCAAs this spring, so I'm sure Moreno would like to see them both make the finals for the chance at a rematch. Short of an upset preventing Mike from reaching the finals there isn't a whole lot on the line more than pride - there isn't a big difference between being ranked 2nd vs being ranked 3rd. But it would be really nice to see him take another step towards being a national champion this season.
Expected ranked participants at 165:
|3||Michael Moreno||Iowa State|
|10||Bo Jordan||Ohio State|
|16||Jesse Stafford||Air Force|
Looking at the expected participants at 174, Tanner is likely to have multiple matches against the other wrestlers who are going to challenge for the 6-8 AA spots along with him in March. As I've written about in the past, Weatherman is a good wrestler, but lacks any elite wins to push him over the top. Though he looks to have closed the gap with Evans based on his performance in Iowa City last weekend, he still hasn't totally made the jump to being elite. That makes a good performance this weekend very important. Tanner needs to finish in the top five to keep his ranking (and projected NCAA seed) in the top ten, allowing him to avoid the elite tier wrestlers until the AA rounds.
Expected ranked participants at 174:
|6||Tanner Weatherman||Iowa State|
|8||Bryce Hammond||CSU Bakersfield|
|10||Zach Epperly||Virginia Tech|
|12||Mark Martin||Ohio State|
|16||Kurtis Julson||North Dakota State|
|17||Pete Renda||North Carolina State|
|20||Ray Waters||Arizona State|
Lelund is in a somewhat similar situation to what Hall is at 133. He entered the season ranked, has beaten up on all the non-ranked wrestlers he has faced, but fell short in his only matach against a ranked wrestler. In Vegas Weatherspoon should get a shot to wrestle at least one of the mid-teens ranked wrestlers that currently sit right ahead of him in the rankings. If Lelund can finish in the top six that would be a pretty big boost to our chances of finishing in the top ten at NCAAs. Lacking that, since Weatherspoon is the 9th ranked wrestler in the field at 184, just finishing on the podium at all would mean climbing up the rankings.
Expected ranked participants at 184:
|6||Kenny Courts||Ohio State|
|7||Blake Stauffer||Arizona State|
|8||Taylor Meeks||Oregon State|
|14||Hayden Zillmer||North Dakota State|
|18||Lelund Weatherspoon||Iowa State|
197 isn't quite as deep as some of the others, but Kyven's bracket includes three title contenders in Schiller, Gadson, and super-recruit Kyle Snyder of Ohio State. Schiller has been Kyven's kryptonite throughout his career, so a win would be an upset. But it would also be very important - Kyven is unlikely to see Schiller or Snyder again this season, so wins over them this weekend would go a long way towards prevent the seeding committee from being able to screw him over again with a terrible seed at NCAAs. This tournament, along with the Scuffle next month, are the two most important events on the regular season calender for Gadson's national title hopes.
Expected ranked participants at 197:
|3||Kyven Gadson||Iowa State|
|7||Kyle Snyder||Ohio State|
Much like Larson at 125, Smith has performed so far pretty much where I expected him to. Beating unranked guys, losing to ranked guys. Generally holding his own but lacking any quality wins. Really all I'd like to see here is for Smith to pick up a few wins and give me some hope he can be an NCAA qualifier for us this season. I'd also prefer he didn't pin himself.
Expected ranked participants at HWT:
|2||Nick Gwiazdowski||NC State|
|9||Ty Walz||Virginia Tech|
|10||Evan Knutson||North Dakota State|
|11||Nick Tavanello||Ohio State|
|13||Adam Fager||Utah Valley|
At a tournament this large, and this deep, everyone on the roster has a challange. For our top guys, they have a shot to solidify their rankings and maybe move up to the top. For our second tier guys they have a shot to show they belong in the rankings and maybe move up in the R12 conversation. And for the rest of our lineup they have a shot to state an argument for NCAA qualification and to show their weightclasses won't be holes when we get into the meat of the season come January.
The team will next take the mat on January 1st & 2nd, 2015 at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn.