Photo: Tony Rotundo

Cliff Keen Las Vegas Wrestling Preview

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The Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitation will be going down from December 2nd to December 3rd. Being one of the biggest tournaments of the year you are definitely not going to want to miss this.

Note- Stephen Buchanan will not be competing as he has entered the transfer portal (as of November 29th)

125 Pounds-

125 is going to be interesting with Princeton not entered for the tournament as of yet meaning no Pat Glory here who would have been the favorite to win.

Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern looks like the massive favorite but Richie Figueroa of ASU has been looking very impressive. Brandon Courtney has not competed yet for the Sun Devils so it seems as of now Figs will be the guy at 125.

Matt Ramos of Purdue is maybe a dark horse along with Brandon Kaylor, and Kurt McHenry. However with all that being said DeAugustino looks like an overwhelming favorite here unless Figueroa can prove himself to be a top dog.

133 Pounds-

Even with multiple top guys here there is one name to look at, Vito Arujau of Cornell has been a staple in the college wrestling scene which is crazy considering he has not even made the national finals yet.

With wins over guys like Roman Bravo-Young, Daton Fix, and Nick Suriano there is no doubt that he is a top guy. However he has not proven himself at this weight class just yet even with the major over All American LaMont in his last match.

Obviously with Vito being as good as he is there is definitely not a shortage of guys looking to take him out for a signature win. 5 other top guys looking to take him out.

The main guys I will be keeping my eye out for are Michael McGee of Arizona State and Sam Latona of Virginia Tech. McGee presents a lot of problems for guys with his quickness and Latona I feel is heavily under ranked because of his move to 133 where he looks much better.

Guys like Dylan Ragusin of Michigan, Chris Cannon of Northwestern, and Jesse Mendez of Ohio State exist. Maybe they break through here but Mendez I feel is the only guy that really has the chance to and that is if he wrestles up to par or better than what he did vs Lucas Byrd, and that is a very big ask of the true freshman.

141 Pounds-

This weight is a little weaker than the first two but the top 3 guys stand out a bit with Ryan Jack of NC State, Dylan Droegemueller of North Dakota State and Cole Mattin of Michigan.

Jack has looked the best on the year no doubt but should the seeds fall how we expect the Mattin vs Droegemueller should be interesting.

Vince Cornella of Cornell would be the guy I am looking at as a dark horse here but being he has not had matches yet any prediction I would make would be basing it on very little. However he does have the potential to win the entire thing.

Clay Carlson is here as a former All American and actually pinned current #1 Andrew Alirez at this tournament. He has not been on the greatest run so far so I would not bet money on him winning, but he has proven results in the past and there is no reason he cannot do it again.

149 Pounds-

Yianni took his first loss since 2017 this season to Austin Gomez. This tournament in theory would’ve been his bounce back tournament. But he will not be wrestling as he is slated to wrestle 65kg for Team USA at the World Cup

John Millner of App State currently ranked #3 in the country will be coming into this tournament as the top seeded wrestler.

Other guys in this weight class ranked in the top 10 include Kyle Parco, Sammy Sasso and Yahya Thomas. All three of these guys have made the podium before and have had decent seasons so far. Caleb Henson is another guy you could throw into this debate here as he has a win over Sasso, but with his loss to Doug Zapf at the Keystone Classic we have to see how he looks.

Something a lot of people want to see is how Dom Demas looks. The last time we saw Demas he did not look very good for Oklahoma, we have all seen his potential in the 2019 season where he picked up some massive wins.

157 Pounds-

No Jacori Teemer or Quincy Monday which makes this weight a good bit more interesting. Will Lewan vs Peyton Robb will most likely be the finals match here at 157.

Lewan is coming off a big win over Bryce Andonian and he might see him again at this tournament depending how the seeding falls.

This weight class with these three guys could go a different way any time it would be wrestled so it should definitely be interesting to see the outcome here but if I had to predict it would be Robb coming out on top.

Ed Scott is there as well but having not looked the greatest so far in his season it might be a long shot to see him coming out on top. Jared Franek is here but also has a loss to Peyton Robb but who knows here.

165 Pounds-

Cameron Amine, Julian Ramirez, and Carson Kharchla this weight will be a very fun one to watch.

Amine is the favorite here given his results last year finishing 4th at the national tournament meaning he will most likely grab the top seed. Kharchla vs Ramirez in the semifinals is a match that last year at CKLV was a major for Kharcla.

Expect to see an Amine vs Kharchla match here and this should be close but Amine has the history in this match and that would most likely be the way to go.

174 Pounds-

Mekhi Lewis will be back in action and should win here, there are three guys who will put up a good fight here with Mikey Labriola, Ethan Smith, and Demetrius Romero.

Lewis and Smith have historically had some very close matches and Smith just lost a match to Lennox Wolak of Columbia in a massive upset who will also be at this tournament.

Chris Foca is the dark horse here with his performance against some of these top guys in the past, going to OT with Mekhi Lewis at the Collegiate Duals last year this should be interesting.

184 Pounds-

There are 3 wrestlers at this weight class I will be watching. Parker Keckeisen, Trent Hidlay, and Kaleb Romero. Hidlay vs Keckeisen will most likely end up being the finals and Keck would be the favorite there.

The bracket is deep so I wouldn’t look past any upsets with guys like Hunter Bolen who just had a close match with Kaleb Romero, along with Trey Munoz and Jonathan Loew who are very solid as well.

Keckeisen and Hidlay will most likely end up being the 2 and 3 seeds at NCAAs unless something crazy happens so this match is something they should in theory be seeing in March.

197 Pounds-

A very weird weight class at the tournament with the highest ranked competitor ranked #9. With Buchanan out the tournament becomes very interesting.

Gavin Hoffman, is the only All American at the weight class. However you have names like Isaac Trumble, Kordell Norfleet, and Tanner Sloan here.

Then you have Owen Pentz who actually pinned Stephen Buchanan but lost to Silas Alred of Nebraska who is also in the weight class.

Jacob Cardenas is unranked which is interesting, he will most likely be in the rankings after this being that his loss to Braxton Amos is possibly what knocked him out of the rankings which I do not necessarily agree with.

Bernie Truax is not listed as far as I can see which is why I am going to leave him out of this right now. If he is there him vs Hoffman in the finals should be interesting.

285 Pounds-

We have a very fun potential rematch brewing at heavyweight, a NCAA quarterfinal rematch between #1 Cohlton Schultz and #3 Mason Parris will most likely go down in the finals.

That is if Yaraslau Slavikouski or Lucas Davison don’t have anything to say about it.

Davison was still pretty undersized last season so if he put on some good mass and has a good performance he could make some noise.

Slavikouski has been a guy that I have enjoyed watching but he unfortunately tore his acl in the CKLV Finals last year and hopefully he looks good here.

Schultz is going to be an overwhelming favorite looking at both of their performances so far but Parris can win and he has proven that much so this should be a good one.


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Akil Murugan
Akil Murugan
Senior Editor for Heavyweight Nation

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