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Call Ohio State the “team of the decade” at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Over the past 10 tournaments the Buckeyes hoisted the championship six times and placed outside the top five just once. Tom Ryan’s team comes back to Las Vegas facing an uphill battle to extend their streak of three consecutive team titles.
December 6-7 | 12:00 PM Eastern
Heading into the weekend’s action, we asked the Ohio State coaching staff to pick some of their team’s “greatest hits” from the season’s premiere invitational tournament. Here are five of their favorites:
2011: True freshman Hunter Stieber takes out defending NCAA champ Kellen Russell
Buckeyes always love beating Wolverines, but beating a defending national champ in the quarterfinals as a true freshman? That’s especially tasty. Russell landed the first takedown of the match and Stieber matched him with one in the second, with the 6-5 decision coming down to a late-match takedown from the young man from Monroeville.
2013: Johnni DiJulius pins Cody Brewer of Oklahoma in 44 seconds
Ohio State only finished third in 2013 at the Cliff Keen – and placed that highly due in no small part to the final round heroics of Johnni DiJulius. The Buckeye pinned the future four-time All-American just moments into the 133-pound title match.
2013: Logan Stieber pins Anthony Abidin of Nebraska
Logan Stieber’s arm bar is the stuff of legends. His most deadly weapon was on full display in the 141-pound finals of the 2013 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational against Cornhusker Anthony Abidin. On the verge of a first-period tech fall at the two-minute mark, Abidin couldn’t hold off the pin any longer and Stieber took home the title.
2017: Luke Pletcher upsets top seed Stevan Micic
Luke Pletcher is a difficult man to wrestle; his low center of gravity and massive power base make him hard to take down and harder to hold. Micic is one of the few guys to get the job done more than once. The rivals met in the semifinals of the 2017 Cliff Keen with the Buckeyes looking to hold off Michigan and repeat as team champions.
Knotted up at five apiece in the final minute of the match, the true sophomore dug deep for the win.
2017: Kollin Moore pins Jared Haught in the 197-pound finals
Kollin Moore has done pretty well at the Cliff Keen. Coming back to Las Vegas a two-time champ, the senior captain hasn’t lost a match at this tournament since his first season in the lineup. In a rematch of the third-place match at the 2017 NCAA tournament, Moore squared off against Virginia Tech’s Jared Haught, and for the second time in as many meetings, Moore put the Hokie on his back for the win.
Pletcher and Moore enter the 2019 Cliff Keen as the top seeds in their respective classes, and it won’t be any surprise to see them add to Ohio State’s “greatest hits” from the tournament this weekend.
Andy Vance is a Columbus-based journalist who covers the Ohio State University wrestling program for Eleven Warriors, the largest independent sports site on the internet for Ohio State news, analysis, and community. He is co-host of the site’s Eleven Dubcast podcast. Follow him on Twitter @AndyVance