2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

The Best Potential Matches At The 2023 CKLV Wrestling Invitational

The Best Potential Matches At The 2023 CKLV Wrestling Invitational

A breakdown of the best potential matches at the 2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on December 1-2.

Nov 29, 2023 by Jon Kozak
The Best Potential Matches At The 2023 CKLV Wrestling Invitational

The 2023 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational is set to go down December 1-2 and will be the best regular season tournament of the year. The storylines are endless entering the tournament and there will be a number of “can’t-miss” matches throughout. However, in the article below, we decided to highlight a few of the best matches that could go down in Vegas this weekend to just how amazing this tournament is.

Check out more 2023 CKLV Content:

Pre-Seeds | Schedule | Ranked Wrestlers | Biggest CKLV Storylines

Bryce Andonian vs Meyer Shapiro, 157-pound round of 16

We're starting with the match I'm most excited about - Andonian vs Shapiro. When pre-seeds came out - this was the one, can’t-miss match I circled. Meyer Shapiro is coming into college as a U17 and U20 world champ and carries with him some of the biggest expectations a true freshman can have. Bryce Andonian might be the most exciting wrestler in the country at any weight and is a clear national title contender at 157 pounds. Is Shapiro ready for the nation's best right now? What wild things will Andonian try in this match? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I can’t wait to find out!

Oh, and the winner of this match gets the winner of Cody Chittum and Daniel Cardenas! Only to meet Jacori Teemer in the semifinals…ridiculous. And this doesn’t even take into account the top side of the bracket where Peyton Robb, Will Lewan, Ed Scott, Cael Swensen, and Joey Blaze will battle it out for a spot in the finals. Honestly, an entire article could be written just on the potential matchups in the 157-pound bracket!

Watch Bryce Andonian pin Tommy Askey in the finals of the 2023 Keystone Classic:

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Ridge Lovett vs Casey Swiderski, 149-pound quarterfinal

Ridge Lovett is the #1 ranked wrestler after finishing as the NCAA runner-up 2 years ago at 149 pounds. However, Lovett will be tested early against Iowa State’s Casey Swiderski who looks reenergized and healthy this year after wrestling last year banged up at 141 pounds. Swiderski is coming off a big win over Victor Voinovich and looks to be a clear All-American threat this year. This match will tell us if Swiderski is ready to move into the top tier at 149 or if Lovett is still a step or two ahead.

Caleb Henson vs Kyle Parco, 149-pound Semifinal

This one has the potential to be the match of the tournament. Kyle Parco is as slick as they come at 149 pounds and Caleb Henson wrestles as hard as anyone in the country. We should expect a ton of action in this match and some incredible highlights.

Hear from Caleb Henson about his college goals and desire to separate himself from the 149-pound field:

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Lucas Davison vs Yonger Bastida, 285-pound final

Heavyweight is DEEP at the CKLV with a potential of 18 total ranked wrestlers in the field. That means it will be a difficult task for Davison and Bastida to navigate their way to the finals for this showdown. However, if they do, this match should be incredible between these two athletic, offensive heavyweights looking to establish themselves as title contenders.

Shane Griffith vs Carson Kharchla, 174-pound final

Both Shane Griffith and Carson Kharchla have made the move up to 174 pounds after wrestling the past 4 years at 165. Kharchla’s biggest test on the season came against Mekhi Lewis where he lost a close, 4-2 in Ohio State’s dual meet win over Virginia Tech. Griffith, on the other hand, hasn’t wrestled a ranked opponent yet this year. 

In general, Vegas will be a great measuring stick for both of these wrestlers at 174 pounds but the potential finals match could be a preview of a quarterfinal or semifinal bout at this year’s NCAA Tournament. Also, this is a rematch of the CKLV semis two years ago where Griffith came out on top in a close, 5-4 decision decided by 1:22 of riding time in favor of Griffith.

Watch Shane Griffith's win over Carson Kharchla from the 2021 CKLV:

Chris Foca vs Gavin Hoffman, 184-pound quarterfinal - winner gets Trey Munoz

Chris Foca and Gavin Hoffman are two past All-Americans who are attempting to reach the top of the podium this year in a new weight class. Foca is coming up after wrestling the past four years at 174 while Hoffman is coming down from 197 after starting there for Ohio State the past 3 years. This match will be a great test for both wrestlers and the tournament will tell us how they’re adjusting to the new weight class. The 184-pound bracket is also incredibly deep with 9 of the top 12 wrestlers in the tournament - #1 Parker Keckeisen, #3 Trey Munoz, #3 Chris Foca, #4 Trey Munoz, #5 Dustin Plott, #6 Will Feldkamp, #9 Gavin Kane, #11 Gavin Hoffman, and #12 Lenny Pinto.

Daton Fix vs Kai Orine, 133-pound final

Daton Fix and Kai Orine are the top seeds in the 133-pound bracket and will have to navigate a fairly tough bracket to meet in the finals. However, both are the prohibitive favorites to do so and this potential match has the makings of a great one.

Fix and Orine met in the round of 16 at the 2022 NCAA Tournament in a match that was a lot closer than many expected. Fix ultimately won 7-4 but Orine showed just how game of a competitor he was in that match with a late takedown and a number of exciting flurries. While Fix is again the favorite, we should expect Orine to hold nothing back if he meets Fix in the finals.

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Brock Hardy vs Jesse Mendez, 141-pound semifinal

Jesse Mendez has made the move up to 141 pounds after placing 6th at 133 last year and looks as good as ever. Mendez is 6-0 so far with 4 techs and 2 pins in his short time at 141 but faces a whole new test in Brock Hardy at Vegas. Hardy placed 6th last year at 141 pounds and is a great scrambler and top wrestler. Not only will this potential semifinal match be entertaining, but it will tell us a lot about where both Hardy and Mendez stack up in the national landscape at 141 pounds.

Hear from Jesse Mendez on his freshman season and thoughts moving up to 141 pounds:

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Lachlan McNeil vs Anthony Echemendia, 141-pound quarterfinal

We just saw Anthony Echemendia push #1 Real Woods to the brink and was literally “reaction time” away from pulling off the upset. Now, Echemendia will be tested by returning 4th place finisher Lachlan McNeil in what could be a quarterfinal match in Vegas.

David Carr vs Cam Amine, 165-pound final

Let’s not get it twisted, David Carr is the big favorite to win the 165-pound bracket. He’s a national champ with two wins last year over Keegan O’Toole. However, Cam Amine has progressively gotten better in his college career and might just possess a style to slow down and frustrate Carr. Amine and Carr have never wrestled in their college careers and I’m looking forward to seeing if Amine can put himself in title contention or if David Carr notches another statement win.

Izzak Olejnik vs Antrell Taylor, 165-pound quarterfinal

Izzak Olejnik might have had the takedown of the NWCA All-Star Classic during his win over Dean Hamiti. Olejnik looked as good as ever in that match and might be in the conversation to push Cam Amine and David Carr in Vegas. 

However, first, he’ll have to get by freshman Antrell Taylor who is making a name for himself in the first month of the college season. Taylor is 6-0 so far this year with 2 ranked victories after winning the starting spot over two-time national qualifier Bubba Wilson. This match will tell us if Taylor’s ready to push for All-American honors or if he’s still a step behind some of the top guys at 165.

It’s also worth noting that the winner of this match will likely wrestle Cam Amine in the semis!

Olejnik's win over Dean Hamiti at the 2023 NWCA All-Star Classic:

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Trent Hidlay vs Jacob Cardenas, 197-pound semifinal - winner gets Tanner Sloan

Trent Hidlay is finishing his college career at 197 pounds after wrestling the past 4 years at 184. Hidlay has been dominant in his first 7 matches at 197 going 7-0 with 3 falls, 3 techs, and 1 major. If the seeds hold, Hidlay will face a big test in All-American Jacob Cardenas in the semi-finals. Then, if Hidlay gets past Cardenas, he’ll likely wrestle returning national finalist Tanner Sloan. Hidlay could leave Vegas as the #2 ranked wrestler in the country and cement himself as the main threat to stop Aaron Brooks from winning his fourth national title. 

Trent Hidlay on his transition up to 197 pounds:

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