NCAA D1 Weekly Roundup: 2023-24

NCAA D1 Week 5 Roundup: CKLV For Vendetta

NCAA D1 Week 5 Roundup: CKLV For Vendetta

The world's finest collection of noteworthy happenings from the fifth week of the 2023-24 NCAA D1 wrestling season.

Dec 4, 2023 by Andrew Spey

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A ludicrously loaded Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational generated most of the headlines in week 5 of the 2023-24 NCAA wrestling season. There's lots to unpack from Vegas, plus a heap of regular season dual meets to discuss, so let's get to it!

Box Scores | Rankings | Last Week's Roundup

First topic of discussion: Barry Manilow was not the only star performing at the Westgate Hotel & Casino this week. 

Viva Cliff Keen Las Vegas

Ignore the motto, many awards and much news will not stay in the city

138 nationally ranked wrestlers made it into the brackets at the CKLV, including 48 top 10 competitors. Absurd!

Iowa State brings home the team title to Ames, the first non-Big Ten school to win the tournament since Missouri earned the crown in 2015. Since then, we've seen an Ohio State three-peat followed by a three-peat from Nebraska.

The Huskers and Buckeyes were in the mix again this year, but came up just short, as the Cyclones earned 130.5 points to 125.5 from Nebraska in second and 123.5 from Ohio State in third. 

You can read more about the team race here. And you can check out all the brackets, results, team scores and more inside FloArena

Iowa State got things done with seven top-eight place winners. Their lone champ was Yonger Bastida, who showed that he'll be able to hang with the big fellas after bumping up from 197 to heavyweight in the off-season. Bastida defeated two-time All-American Lucas Davison in the finals, doing crazy things such as picking Davison up in the air and twirling him around as seen in the highlight below. 

No team emerged unscathed from Vegas, however,  as you could point to a couple of weights where the Cyclones did wrestle to a projected finish. That could be said for every team, though, and it would also make you a Debbie Downer of the highest order. 

As for the Vendetta referenced in the Roundup title, that was mostly included for wordplay, and not because any actual vengeance was extracted in Vegas. 

However, many wrestlers did wrestle like they had a vendetta. For example, Ridge Lovett was absolutely punishing in the top position, as was his teammate Peyton Robb. Both won CKLV titles as part of a murderer's row of middleweights for the Huskers. 

Robb also won Outstanding Wrestler, as his story, from being hospitalized during the 2023 NCAA Championships (after he had secured All-American status, naturally), to a lengthy and arduous rehab stint in which the use of one of his legs was in doubt, to the top of the CKLV, is nothing short of inspirational. 

We also got a glimpse of Cornell's true freshman Meyer Shapiro's potential, as the U17 & U20 UWW World Champ knocked off two-time All-American Bryce Andonian in the round of 16. However, the Shapiro (pronounced "Sha-pie-row", by the way. Not the common pronunciation but the correct one in this case nonetheless!) hype train lost a little steam when Meyer lost his next two bouts. 

It really was a weekend of too many storylines, but I'll do my best to summarize some more interesting facts about this incredible tournament.

  • I already mentioned the 138 ranked competitors and 48 top ten entries but wanted to state it again because it's so insane for an in-season event.
  • I gave up counting but there were about a dozen upsets per weight class. You can check them all out in this article
  • There were scads of 'best matches'. Here's a list of some of our favorites. What were yours?
  • We highlighted 16 freshmen to watch at the CKLV. Four of them placed: Frost 2nd, Bouzakis 3rd, Garvin 6th, & Feldman 6th. 
  • I compared team tournament points based on placement and compared that to projected tournament points based on seeds (the same way we do tournament rankings, so not factoring in bonus points) and Stanford, by a large margin, did the best this weekend with regards to outperforming their seeds. 
    • Ohio, Northern Iowa, Wyoming, and Oregon State also outperformed their seeds by double-digit margins. 
    • Michigan did the worst with regard to seeds and placements. 
  • How tough is this tourney? Five wrestlers ranked in the top 20 didn't make the podium: #3 Chris Foca, #10 Josh Koderhandt, #15 Kysen Terukina, #16 Luke Geog, and #20 Troy Fisher
  • Need more evidence? Seven All-Americans didn't place: Chris Foca, Shane Griffith, Trey Munoz, Gavin Kane, Jaden Abas, Gavin Hoffman, and Eddie Ventresca. That's four at 184 alone!
  • Weights were seeded out to 16 wrestlers in most weights. Eight wrestlers managed to make the podium without the benefit of a seed: Tyler Knox 5th, Sal Perrine 5th, Nash Singleton 6th, Jaden Bullock 6th, Sonny Sasso 6th, Julian Farber 7th, Lorenzo Norman 7th, & Joey Novak 8th. 
  • Stanford's Nico Provo won 125 pounds with the 9 seed and ranked 30th. Good luck with that weight class, rankers!
  • Buckeye freshman Nic Bouzakis shook off an early round loss and went on a pin crazy rampage in the consolation, wrestling back for 3rd (as the 17th ranked wrestler in the nation) and winning the award for most pins in the tournament. 
  • Besides Provo, Travis Wittlake at 174 and Evan Frost at 133 were the lowest-ranked wrestlers to make the finals. Both are 11th nationally. 
  • Other CKLV placers that outperformed their national rankings include: Navy's Danny Wask who placed 4th and is ranked 28th, Oregon State's Brandon Kaylor who placed 4th and is ranked 21st, Stanford's Hunter Garvin who placed 6th and is ranked 29th, Campbell's Austin Murphy who placed 6th and is ranked 25th, and Iowa State's Anthony Echemendia who placed 7th and is ranked 30th. 

That's enough factoids for now.  Now how about we reveal the most viewed highlight from the weekend? It's none other than this crazy counter from the fearless Feldkamp for the pinfall over Munoz.

Not far behind in the view count was this absurd match-determining scramble between David Carr and Julian Ramirez. 

Crookham Defends His #1 Ranking Over Nagao

Penn State continues to look like world beaters

Other stuff happened this weekend besides the CKLV. For instance, the Nittany Lions had their home opener in Rec Hall and they did not disappoint their loyal fans, who were also treated to the raising of their 2023 NCAA Championship banner and they received some PSU wrestler bobbleheads from Santa.

The biggest matchup of the night was #1 Crookham vs #4 Nagao. The Mountain Hawk prevailed, 6-4, scoring the only two takedowns of the bout, reaffirming his spot atop the national rankings. 

PSU started Gary Steen at 125, who was defeated by Lehigh's Sheldon Seymour, and Aaron Brooks had the night off, as Michael Beaard tech-falled Lucas Cochran in his stead. The Lions won every other bout, including 149, which saw true freshman Tylar Kasak get a spot start instead of presumptive starter Shayne Van Ness. 

You can read the play-by-play of events from the dual here in our award-winning live blog

Iowa Survives A Scare From Penn

Hawkeyes avoid a trap-dual against the Quakers in Philly

Bonus point wins by Nick Incontera and Max Hale had Penn within striking distance with two matches left in the dual, however, once again the Hawkeye hero was Zach Glazier at 197. Glazier put the dual out of reach for Penn with a 9-5 win over Martin Cosgrove and Iowa won by the score of 22-13

More Wrestling Happened

Friday was not a great day for William Wallace as the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers defeated the Fighting Scots of Edinboro 49-0. 

In overall sad news, Lindenwood dropped a dual to Bellarmine 35-7 and then their school shamefully dropped the program along with 9 other sports. The NWCA had vowed to fight the decision in hopes of reversing the choice.

In news that shouldn't bum you out (unless you are one of his future opponents), Keegan O'Toole remains unbeaten with a 100% bonus rate as he registered a pin over #13 Cael Carlson as the Missouri Tigers defeated the Sooners of Oklahoma 30-12. Clayton Whiting got the start for the Tigers at 184 but Rocky Elam sat out this dual so we did not get a top 5 matchup at 197 and Oklahoma's Stephen Buchanan received a forfeit. 

Chattanooga went undefeated in a dual-fest hosted by Gardner-Webb involving three other teams D1 programs in attendance. That included this 31-23 individual match result.

Michigan State was the unofficial winner of a dual meet bonanza hosted by Franklin & Marshall and five teams in total. 

Little Rock defeated all of their opponents at the Drexel Duals, a competition hosted by, you guessed, Drexel University. 

Indiana, Wisconsin & Oklahoma all prevailed in close duals against Princeton, Bucknell and West Virginia, respectively. Pitt had more breathing room in their 22-9 victory over Illinois. Of note: Wisconsin's DJ Hamiti, ranked #5 at 165, wrestled up at 174, a weight we might see him at for the rest of the year.

Finally, the Wolfpack sent backups to the Patriot Open hosted by George Mason and managed to secure three titles, the most of any team, although the hometeam Patriots did get a title from #21 Nathan Higley at 141 points. 

Hundreds of Thousands of People Watched Iowa vs Iowa State Last Week on ESPN

Technically, the event averaged 243,000 viewers over the length of the over-two-hour broadcast as measured by Nielsen. No idea what the total number of people who tuned in at any given time or in total but we know for sure that is was multiple hundreds of thousands. 

For context, Iowa vs Penn State averaged 388,00 viewers on the Big Ten Network in January of last season, while the NCAA finals last March on ESPN averaged 454,000. 

As to if that's good or bad, well, that all depends on your perspective. 243,000 is a lot of people! Additionally, the dual was exciting and the broadcast was extremely well produced, so hopefully that brought in some new fans to our wonderful sport. 

On the other hand, ESPN can almost certainly fill that time slot with college basketball and get more viewers (which it does regularly), so I'm not sure we will see more wrestling on the Worldwide Leader in the near future. 

But to you, the wise and learned wrestling fan with great taste in blogs, it probably doesn't really mean anything. You'll still have access to more wrestling content than at any point in history, and that's not bad!

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That's why we've been putting more and more of our best content on YouTube, so that you diehards reading this (free) blog can share those videos with your friends and family, all for free!

How about some archival video of the legendary Jordan Burroughs wrestling at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational from back in 2008?

Truly will live in a land of plenty. A wrestling cornucopia at our fingertips!

Send Me Tips!

This roundup is for you, so if you see something noteworthy happen in D1 NCAA wrestling, let me know so that I can make note of it! 

Best way to reach me is on Twitter (@speywrestle) or email [].

The season is happening so fast that it's already getting difficult to keep up. More great duals are on tap for next week. Then we'll see a lot of the college stars at Senior Nationals as the journey to the 2024 Paris Olympics continues. 

Then it'll be the holidays! Time moves fast, enjoy the wrestling, and see you next week!