2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Preview: 149-174 Pounds

2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Preview: 149-174 Pounds

A full preview with predictions for 149-174 pounds at the 2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Nov 28, 2023 by Jon Kozak
2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Preview: 149-174 Pounds

The 2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational is set to go down on December 1-2 and will be the best in-season tournament of the year. Check out the below article for a breakdown and predictions of 149-174 at this year’s CKLV.

Check out more 2023 CKLV Content:

Pre-Seeds | Schedule | Ranked Wrestlers

149 lbs

The Favorite

#1 Ridge Lovett, Nebraska

Ridge Lovett enters the CKLV as the top-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds and will be the man to beat in the bracket. Lovett was an NCAA runner-up in 2022 but only wrestled 4 folkstyle matches last year during his redshirt season. This year, Lovett is 6-0 and has won 5 of those matches by bonus points - 1 major, 3 techs, and 1 fall. Lovett's ranked wins on the season are over Dylan Chappel and Kellyn March but will likely face numerous top-10-ranked opponents in Vegas. If Lovett comes out on top, he’ll further cement himself as the best wrestler in the country at 149 pounds.

Ridge Lovett's win over Dylan Chappell in the finals of the 2023 Navy Classic:

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The Contenders

#3 Kyle Parco, Arizona State

#4 Caleb Henson, Virginia Tech

#5 Jackson Arrington, NC State

#6 Chance Lamer, Cal Poly

#9 Casey Swiderski, Iowa State

The amount of ranked wrestlers at 149 pounds at the CKLV makes this event feel like a mini-NCAA tournament. Any of the above 4 wrestlers will be dangerous threats to taking out Ridge Lovett and make this bracket a lot of fun. Kyle Parco is a 3-time All-American who has the offensive abilities to take down anyone in the country. Parco has never wrestled Lovett or Henson in his college career but defeated both Chance Lamer (4-1) and Jackson Arrington (8-5) last season. 

Parco’s semi-final opponent will likely be Caleb Henson and should be a match filled with highlights. Henson placed 5th at last year’s NCAA Tournament and is already out to a 12-0 record this year with 9 bonus point wins - 2 majors, 5 techs, and 2 falls. Henson wrestles a fearless style and proved last season as a true freshman he’s able to wrestle his best in big matches when he defeated Sammy Sasso in only his 6th collegiate match. With Henson’s hot start this year, the CKLV will show just how much progress he has made and how close he’ll be to challenging for a national title.

Chance Lamer and Jackson Arrington are two sophomores who fell 1 match short of earning All-American honors in their freshmen year. Lamer, who wrestled for Michigan last season, is now wrestling at Cal Poly has picked up where he left off last season with a 6-0 record and 6 bonus point wins. Last year, Lamer’s season was highlighted by wins over the likes of Austin Gomez, Doug Zapf, Ethen Miler, and Colin Realbuto. Arrington defeated Lamer last season along with ranked wins over Victor Voinovich, Mitch Moore, Quinn Kinner, and Dom Demas. 

Casey Swiderski is the final contender worth mentioning at 149 pounds. He was a match shy of All-American honors last year at 141 pounds and has been successful in his move up to 149 pounds so far this year. Swiderski is currently 7-0 on the year and is coming off a signature win over Victor Voinovich. Swiderski could make a statement in Vegas and announce himself as a title contender. 

Hear from Casey Swiderski in the below video after his recent win over Victor Voinovich

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Sleepers & Landmines

#20 Jordan Williams, Oklahoma State

Sure there are higher-ranked wrestlers in the field at 149 pounds - guys like #15 Ethen Miller, #13 Quinn Kinner, and #11 Jaden Abas will certainly be a factor in the 149 bracket. However, none of those wrestlers fit this category quite like Jordan Williams. Williams was a highly touted recruit out of high school and is currently 6-0 on the season with a notable 15-2 major over teammate Carter Young. Williams also defeated Ethen Miller last season showing he’s capable of challenging some of the tougher guys in the weight. 

149 Predictions:

1. Caleb Henson

2. Ridge Lovett

3. Kyle Parco

4. Jackson Arrington

157 lbs

The Favorite

#3 Peyton Robb, Nebraska

Peyton Robb is entering his senior season as a two-time All-American and a clear title contender this year at 157 pounds. After wrestling through a severe, life-threatening skin infection at last year’s NCAA Tournament, Robb looks fully recovered and is off to a great start with a 7-0 record and 6 bonus point wins. Robb is the defending CKLV champ and has career wins over Ed Scott, Kendall Coleman, Chase Saldate, Jared Franek, Jacori Teemer, Austin O’Connor, and a host of other top-ranked wrestlers. Robb is the clear favorite to come out of Vegas on top.

Peyton Robb's win in the finals of last year's CKLV:

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The Contenders

#4 Jacori Teemer, Arizona State

#5 Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech

#6 Will Lewan, Michigan

#8 Ed Scott, NC State

The above group of four contenders are all past All-Americans and legitimate threats to take out Peyton Robb. This above group of wrestlers also illustrates the incredible depth that will be present at the CKLV. Teemer missed last season with an injury but placed 4th in 2021 and 6th in 2022. Andonian placed 7th last year at 157 but was 3rd in 2022 at 149. Lewan was 8th last year but 5th the year before and Ed Scott got on the podium for the first time last season with a 5th place finish at the 2023 NCAA Tournament. All of these wrestlers have traded wins and losses with one another over the past year making it incredibly challenging to predict how things will play out in Vegas.

Contenders Record Against Peyton Robb:

Ed Scott - 0-3 

Jacori Teemer - 0-2 

Will Lewan - 2-0

Bryce Andonian - 0-0 

Sleepers & Landmines

#19 Meyer Shapiro, Cornell

#21 Joey Blaze, Purdue

Cody Chittum, Iowa State

Shaprio, Blaze, and Chittum are three freshmen who could blow up the 157-pound bracket at the CKLV. Shapiro caught everyone’s attention over the summer when he won a U20 World Title at 70kg. Shapiro is currently 4-0 with 3 bonus point wins and looks to be living up to the hype he earned over the summer. 

Joey Blaze is off to a fast start in his true freshman campaign highlighted by an overtime win over Ed Scott. While Blaze did lose to Pitt’s Jared Keslar at the Clarion Open, Blaze will be a threat to many of the veterans in this field and it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone if he defeats Teemer, Andonian, Lewan, or Scott.

Cody Chittum doesn’t have a ranked win in his college career yet (which is why he’s not ranked), however, his recent 4-2 loss to Jared Franek shows his potential. Cody Chittum was a top-ranked recruit coming out of high school and I fully expect him to place in Vegas.

Watch Meyer Shapiro's U20 Worlds gold medal match:

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157 Predictions:

1. Meyer Shapiro

2. Peyton Robb

3. Will Lewan

4. Bryce Andonian

165 lbs

The Favorite

David Carr, Iowa State

David Carr looks better than ever in his first 4 matches of his senior season. Carr is 4-0 this year and already has ranked wins over Dean Hamiti and Michael Caliendo. Carr looked ultra-impressive during his win over Caliendo where he was dominant from start to finish. Carr’s high-powered offense will likely be too much for anyone in this field to handle and it will be shocking if anyone other than Carr wins the 165-pound bracket.

The Contenders

#3 Cam Amine, Michigan

#4 Izzak Olejnik, Oklahoma State

#7 Julian Ramirez, Cornell

Amine, Olejnik, and Ramirez are the clear second tier at 165 pounds and will look to unseat Carr. Amine is the highest-ranked of the bunch and also brings with him the most credentials as a three-time All-American. Amine has two past wins over Olejnik and has notably never wrestled David Carr. Amine possesses outstanding defense and because of that is the biggest threat to knock off Carr of any in this group. 

Izzak Olejnik placed 8th at 165 last year while wrestling for Northern Illinois and looks as good as ever this year for Oklahoma State. Olejnik is coming off a win over Dean Hamiti at the All-Star Classic where he displayed a lightning-fast ankle pick and some trick defense. Olejnik is an interesting wrinkle in this field and his performances so far this year show he’s capable of challenging the likes of Amine and Carr.

Watch Olejnik's recent win over Dean Hamiti:

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Then there’s Julian Ramirez who has not yet earned All-American honors but has a number of notable wins proving he’s one of the best 165-pound wrestlers in the country. Last year alone, Ramirez defeated Quincy Monday twice along with victories over Patrick Kennedy, Alex Facundo, Matt Olguin, Danny Braunagel and a host of other ranked wrestlers. Beyond those wins, Ramirez is entering Vegas as the returning 165-pound champ and will be looking to defend his title in this deep bracket. 

Sleepers & Landmines

#15 Tanner Cook, South Dakota State

#17 Antrell Taylor, Nebraska

#8 Matt Olguin, #10 Josh Ogunsanya, #11 Bryce Hepner, and Maxx Mayfield are all highly ranked wrestlers who could be in the 165-pound field in Vegas. However, none of those wrestlers fit the “Sleepers and Landmines” category quite like Tanner Cook and Antrell Taylor. Cook is coming off a loss to Minnesota’s Blaine Brenner but his past results, and high-flying go-for-broke wrestling style, make him a threat to most in this bracket. Cook’s performance at last year’s CKLV is the perfect example of why Cook is a landmine. There, Cook had 3 pins including the upset of the tournament with a 37-second fall over All-American Carson Kharchla. It might be hard for Cook to repeat that type of performance this year but with his deadly front headlock, no one will underestimate Cook.

Nebraska’s Antrell Taylor is quickly moving up the rankings after winning the starting spot over NCAA Qualifier Bubba Wilson and recording early season wins over #18 Garrett Thompson and #19 Giano Petrucelli. Though it’s early, Taylor looks like an All-American threat and the CKLV will be a great litmus test for him.

Watch Tanner Cook's win over Carson Kharchla at last year's CKLV:

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165 Predictions

1. David Carr

2. Cam Amine

3. Julian Ramirez

4. Izzak Olejnik

174 lbs

The Favorite

#3 Shane Griffith, Michigan

National champ Shane Griffith is closing out his career at Michigan while moving up to 174 pounds. Griffith is untested on the year at his new weight but his past results prove he’s the man to beat in Vegas at 174 pounds. Along with his national title in 2021, Griffith placed 2nd in 2022 and 5th last season. Vegas will be the first big test for Griffith and an opportunity for him to cement himself as a national title contender this year.

Hear from Griffith on his move to Michigan and new weight class:

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The Contenders

#4 Carson Kharchla, Ohio State

Like Griffith, Carson Kharchla is moving up to 174 pounds this year after spending his first 3 years at 165. Kharchla looks as good as ever up in weight with his only loss coming in a close, 4-2 decision against #2 Mekhi Lewis. Other than the loss, Kharchla has 6 wins on the year - all coming by bonus points (4 techs and 2 majors). The potential Kharchla vs Griffith match could be the best final of the tournament and tell us who is ready to challenge Carter Starocci this year for a national championship.

Sleepers & Landmines

#28 Danny Wask, Navy

Brayden Thompson, Oklahoma State

There will be a number of ranked wrestlers at 174 pounds to watch out for including  #6 Adam Kemp, #8 Cade DeVos, #11 Travis Wittlake, and #13 Lennox Wolak. Any of those wrestlers could surely make some noise in Vegas. However, Danny Wask and Brayden Thompson are two under-the-radar wrestlers to watch closely in this bracket. Wask, a freshman at Navy, is currently 6-2 on the year with two, close losses against Luca Augustine (9-7) and Edmond Ruth (8-5 in OT). Wask notably defeated national qualifiers Troy Fisher and Augustine last year and has the potential to move up the rankings this year at 174 pounds.

True freshman Brayden Thompson was ranked as the #4 overall recruit in the class of 2023 and made the U20 world team in 2022. Thompson struggled with an injury early this season and was forced to injury default out of his only match of the season. However, if he’s fully healthy, Thompson has the potential to place in this bracket.

Brayden Thompson's win over Zack Ryder at 2022 Who's Number One:

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174 Predictions

1. Shane Griffith

2. Carson Kharchla

3. Travis Wittlake

4. Adam Kemp