2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

8 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite Storylines To Follow

8 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite Storylines To Follow

Who will win the deep 157-pound weight class? Will Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser get some sleep? Here are eight storylines to follow at this year's CKLV.

Nov 29, 2023 by Kyle Klingman
8 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite Storylines To Follow

The 2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational is the best in-season wrestling tournament of the year. Follow these storylines as you watch the tournament unfold live on FloWrestling, December 1-2. 

CKLV PRE-SEEDS


157 Pounds Is THE Weight Class To Watch?

How is this for a stacked weight? True freshman Meyer Shapiro of Cornell — a two-time age-level World champion who is expected to contend for a national championship — is pre-seeded 14th. That means he will likely hit someone really good in an early round, which means someone really good will lose early. 

Freshmen Joey Blaze (Purdue) and Cody Chittum (Iowa State) could also make names for themselves after this tournament. Nebraska’s Peyton Robb enters as the top pre-seed but there’s no drop off from there. Arizona State’s Jacori Teemer and Virginia Tech’s Bryce Andonian deserve your full attention and the time it takes to set text alerts on FloArena. 

This weight is reason enough to watch the entire tournament. Below are the expected 157-pounders with their pre-seeds. 

1. Peyton Robb, Nebraska
2. Jacori Teemer, Arizona State
3. Bryce Andonian, Virginia Tech
4. Will Lewan, Michigan
5. Ed Scott, NC State
6. Daniel Cardenas, Stanford
7. Trevor Chumbley, Northwestern
8. Cael Swensen, South Dakota State
9. Joey Blaze, Purdue
10. Paddy Gallagher, Ohio State
11. Cody Chittum, Iowa State
12. Peyten Keller, Ohio
13. Tommy Askey, Appalachian State
14. Meyer Shapiro, Cornell
15. Chris Earnest, Campbell
16. Legend Lamer, Cal Poly
17. RJ Weston, Northern Iowa

Will Ohio State and Nebraska keep their streak alive? 

The Cornhuskers and the Buckeyes have held the top spot in the team standings since 2016. Ohio State won from 2016 through 2018, while Nebraska has won three in a row (2019-2022) since the 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.

Both teams will have plenty of competition if they want the team title this year. Michigan, North Carolina State, Cornell, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State have formidable line-ups that will have their say.

Will Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser Sleep Peacefully In Las Vegas?

Iowa State is coming off an 18-14 loss to Iowa on Sunday, November 26. Dresser blamed himself for in-match tactics that may have cost his team the dual. He also said that the 174-pound match would keep him up for “months and months and months and years.” 

MJ Gaitan lost 14-13 at 174 but had an opportunity to win if he had let Patrick Kennedy go earlier.

“There’s no guarantee that MJ Gaitain would have gotten one more takedown there but it sure looked like it with the way things were trending in that match,” Dresser said. “That’s on us.”

The Cyclones have an opportunity in Las Vegas to right the ship with a team that showed promise during the dual against Iowa in Ames. Keep an eye on Iowa State to see how it responds.

It All Started With James Green

Several programs at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational have new coaches, and Nebraska assistant James Green is responsible. Green left his position as USA Wrestling Freestyle Developmental Coach, which caused a chain reaction.

Former Oklahoma State associate head coach Zach Esposito took Green's job at USA Wrestling.

Former North Carolina head coach Coleman Scott took Esposito's job at Oklahoma State.

Former Stanford coach Rob Koll took Scott's job at North Carolina.

Former Princeton coach Chris Ayres took Koll's job at Stanford.

Former Princeton assistant Joe Dubuque was promoted to head coach to replace Ayres.

Green, Scott, Koll, and Ayres will be in Las Vegas. Maybe they can play dominoes together.

NC State’s Trent Hidlay Switches Back To Folkstyle

Trent Hidlay is a man on a mission as he balances folkstyle and freestyle. Hidlay moved up to 197 from 184 for his super senior season after placing second, fifth, and fourth at the NCAA Championships. 

The Wolfpack star earned a fall during the Army dual at West Point on November 16 then won the Bill Farrell Memorial International in freestyle a few days later. Hidlay is switching back to folkstyle in an attempt to win his second CKLV title.

The road won’t be easy. He has returning national finalist Tanner Sloan of South Dakota State in his weight along with a handful of All-American caliber wrestlers. 

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Watch Trent Hidlay's dramatic semifinal win over a 2x World medalist at the Bill Farrell Memorial International

How Will Michigan’s Transfers Perform?

A trio of Northwestern All-Americans and an NCAA champion from Stanford puts the Wolverines squarely in the trophy hunt. Three of those transfers are expected to compete at CKLV. 

Shane Griffith was a three-time All-American, two-time national finalist, and 2021 NCAA champion for Stanford. He moved up to 174 this season and is seeded first, while Northwestern transfers Michael DeAugustino (125) and Lucas Davison (285) are seeded second. All three will determine how well the Wolverines perform in Las Vegas and throughout the season. 

All-Star Fever Continues

There’s plenty of star power at the Cliff Keen-Las Vegas Invitational, but six wrestlers are All-Stars. Purdue’s Matt Ramos (125), North Carolina’s Lachlan McNeil (141), Oklahoma State’s Izaak Olejnik (174), Northern Iowa’s Parker Keckeisen (184), SDSU’s Tanner Sloan (197), and Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) competed in the NWCA All-Star Classic on November 21. 

Ramos, McNeil, Olejnik, and Keckeisen won their matches and will look to continue that momentum this weekend.

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World Medals Galore

Several competitors in the field have international freestyle experience, including 16 age-level World medalists. Below is the complete list of entrants who won medals at the World Championships along with their pre-seeds.

125: Jore Volk (Wyoming) — seeded fifth
— 2022 U20 World Gold

133: Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) — seeded first
— 2021 Senior World Silver
— 2018 Junior World Bronze
— 2017 Junior World Gold
— 2016 Junior World Bronze
— 2015 Cadet World Bronze

141: Brock Hardy (Nebraska) — seeded second
— 2023 U23 World Bronze

141: Jesse Mendez (Ohio State) — seeded third
— 2023 U20 World Silver

157: Jacori Teemer (Arizona State) — seeded second
— 2017 Cadet World Bronze

157: Bryce Andonian (Virginia Tech) — seeded third
— 2021 Junior World Bronze

157: Will Lewan (Michigan) — seeded fourth
— 2017 Cadet World Gold

157: Meyer Shapiro (Cornell) — seeded 14th
— 2021 Cadet World Gold
— 2023 U20 World Gold

165: David Carr (Iowa State) — seeded first
— 2019 Junior World Gold
— 2016 Cadet World Bronze

174: Travis Wittlake (Oregon State) — seeded fourth
— 2016 Cadet World Bronze

197: Tanner Sloan (SDSU) — seeded first
— 2022 U20 World Silver

197: Trent Hidlay (NC State) — seeded second
— 2022 U23 World Silver
— 2019 Junior World Bronze

197: Jacob Cardenas (Cornell) — seeded third
— 2023 U23 World Bronze
— 2022 U23 World Silver

285: Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) — seeded first
— 2023 U23 World Gold

285: Lucas Davison (Michigan) — seeded second
— 2019 Junior World Silver

285: Yonger Bastida (Iowa State) — seeded third
— 2019 U23 World Bronze
— 2019 Junior World Silver