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Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational
Friday-Saturday, Dec. 1-2 / Noon ET
Las Vegas Convention Center / Las Vegas, Nevada
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The first of two major December tournaments awaits the 20th-ranked Purdue wrestling team. After close to 10 days away from competition, the Boilermakers return to the mat at the 36th annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Wrestling Invitational. The two-day tournament features two sessions of competition Friday and Saturday, with action getting underway both days at noon ET at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Friday's first session will wrestle up to the quarterfinals and three rounds of wrestlebacks. Quarterfinals and consolation matches will be contested in the second session starting at 9 p.m. Wrestlebacks resume Saturday at noon, with semifinals starting at 1 p.m. The session will wrestle through the fifth- and seventh-place matches. Finals and third-place matches are set for a 6 p.m. start.
To say the teams and field of competitors at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Wrestling Invitational is stout would be an understatement.
"You need to be in the fire to know where you need to grow and develop and what you should focus on as a team," Purdue head wrestling coach Tony Ersland said. "This is another chance for us to take on a very competitive field. There is going to be a number of top-10 teams and a lot of ranked wrestlers in every weight class."
Nearly 50 teams are listed to be in action in Las Vegas, including half of the Big Ten Conference and 15 squads that appeared in Tuesday's USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll. Each weight class features 10-or more nationally ranked wrestlers, with the potential to have 14 ranked wrestlers in action at 174.
"It's a tough environment, but we wrestle a very tough schedule," Ersland said. "I think this tournament prepares our guys well, not only for the Big Ten Championships, but for the national championships. That's why we go to tournaments like Cliff Keen and Midlands, they prepare our guys for the three-day grind in March when we go to nationals. There's a lot to be gained for our guys this weekend."
Two Boilermakers, Luke Welch and Christian Brunner, are a part of the mix of nationally ranked wrestlers that will be in action. Welch climbed to 14th in the InterMat 125-pound rankings following his championship run at the Navy Classic on Nov. 18. He is off to a 10-0 start in his final campaign. Brunner has held steady in the No. 15 spot at 197 pounds for two weeks. The sophomore takes a 7-1 mark to Las Vegas after a third-place showing at the Navy Classic.
Ben Thornton is vying to become Purdue's ninth two-time Cliff Keen Las Vegas Wrestling Invitational placewinner. At last year's tournament, Thornton placed seventh at 125 pounds. Kyle Ayersman joined him on the podium at 141 to give the Boilermakers 28 placewinners at the event since 2002.
|125||No. 14 Luke Welch||RS Sr.||10-0||Newburgh, Ind.|
|133||Ben Thornton||RS Jr.||7-2||Stoddard, Wis.|
|141||Nate Limmex||RS So.||5-4||Ada, Mich.|
|149||Austin Nash||RS So.||4-6||Florham Park, N.J|
|157||Griffin Parriott||RS Fr.||7-2||New Prauge, Minn.|
|165||Jacob Morrissey||RS Sr.||8-5||Oconto Falls, Wis.|
|174||Dylan Lydy||RS So.||9-3||Indianapolis, Ind.|
|184||Max Lyon||Fr.||8-3||Dyersville, Iowa|
|197||No. 15 Christian Brunner||So.||7-1||East Dundee, Ill.|
|285||Shawn Streck||RS Fr.||9-3||Merrillville, Ind.|
InterMat rankings as of Nov. 28