The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
Howe and Rutt lead OU to Vegas title; Stieber and Coon also star
LAS VEGAS — Oklahoma University wrestling coach Mark Cody hoped that Andrew Howe and Travis Rutt — former All-American at Wisconsin — would make an impact for the Sooner program. And the two wrestler continued to do just that at the Las Vegas Convention Center Saturday afternoon when they each claimed an individual championship and let the Sooner to the team title in the 32nd Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
The Sooners, who also earned a second-place finish by 125-pound Jarrod Patterson, led the field with 154.5 points. Finishing second was Nebraska with 130.5 pound while the rest of the Top 10 teams were Ohio State (119.5), Cornell (115.5), Michigan (108.5), Northern Iowa (75.5), Virginia (73), Iowa State (62.5), NC State (59.5) and Virginia Tech (56.5)
Howe, ranked No. 1 nationally, held on to defeat Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh, 3-2, in the 174-pound final, while Rutt defeated American University’s Dan Mitchell in the 197-pound final.
Ohio State’s Logan Stieber was name the O.W. of the tournament when the Buckeye junior captured his third Las Vegas title with a 16-1 technical fall over Nebraska’s Anthony Abidin in the 141-pound final. Stieber, who also pinned three foes en route to his Vegas trifecta, had won his previous two CKLV titles at 133 pounds.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s true freshman showed he belonged on the Division I college mat when he edged Boise State’s No. 2 seed J.T. Felix, 7-5 in overtime in the heavyweight final; one day after the Wolverine also went to overtime to beat No. 1 seeded Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State in the quarterfinals.
The following is a weight-by-weight look at the highlights of the Las Vegas Invitational.
125 pounds — In a rematch of the NWCA All-Star Classic, where Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett defeated Oklahoma’s Jarrod Patterson in a match that did not count against each other’s record, the Big Red sophomore solidified his No. 2 national ranking with a 6-1 victory over the Sooner.
To reach the final, Garrett earned a 4-2 win over Northern Iowa’s Dylan Peters, who entered the semifinals with a 9-0 record and nine pins. Patterson, meanwhile, earned a dominating 9-2 win over Tyler Cox of Wyoming.
In the other placement matches, Josh Martinez of Air Force defeated American’s David Terao, 4-1, for third place. Both Martinez and Terao defeated semifinal losers Cox and Peters in the consolation semifinal. Peters then outscored Cox, 15-13, in the fifth-place bout.
133 pounds — Johnni DiJulius was seeded fourth when he began this tournament, but never bowed to the underdog status and captured the Las Vegas championship with a 44-second fall against Oklahoma’s No. 2 seed Cody Brewer. The Buckeye sophomore reached the finals when he defeated No. 1 seed Joe Colon of Northern Iowa, 6-2, in the semifinal.
Colon, meanwhile came back to finish third when he dominated Cornell’s Mark Grey, 16-0, in the consolation final. Rosario Bruno of Michigan, meanwhile, clinched fifth place with a 6-4 sudden victory over Jose Mendoza of Bakersfield.
141 pounds — Ohio State’s Logan Stieber captured his third straight Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational when he needed just 2:06 to score a 16-1 technical fall over Nebraska’s No. 6 seed Anthony Abidin. Stieber, the two-time NCAA champions at 133 pounds — where he also collected his previous two Vegas titles in 2011 and 2012, only went the distance in one of his five matches in the Las Vegas Convention Center. After scoring a 13-3 major over Ian Nickell of Bakersfield in the first round, Stieber scored three straight pinbs, including a semifinal flattening of Oklahoma’s Nick Lester in 2:22.
Abidin reached the finals when his semifinal opponent — No. 2 seed Devin Carter of Virginia Tech — was forced to medically forfeit his semifinal and consy matches.
Among the other placement matches, Lester blanked Hofstra’s Luke Vaith, 4-0, for third place.
149 pounds — Since winning the 141-pound NCAA championship last March, Oklahoma’s Kendric Maple appeared to have a hard time adjusting to the 149-pound weight class by suffering three losses in the first month of the season. But that all changed in Vegas as the senior won the championship with an 8-3 win over Nebraska’s No. 2 seed Jake Sueflohn in the final.
Among the other placement matches, Cornell’s Chris Villalonga, the No. 5 seed, defeated No. 4 seed Scott Sakaguchi, 4-1, for third place … and for the second time in the tournament. One day earlier, the Big Red wrestler defeated the Beaver, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, No. 7 seed Ian Paddock of Ohio State defeated No. 3 seed Eric Grajales, 8-2 in the fifth-place match.
157 pounds — James Green of Nebraska won the championship at this weight … by the closest of margins as the Husker junior first needed overtime to defeat Michigan’s Brian Murphy, 7-5, in the semifinals … the edged Cornell’s Brian Realbuto, 6-5, in the championships.
Realbuto reached the finals when his semifinal against Virginia’s Blaise Butler also went to overtime, but the Big Red sophomore scored a fall in 7:19.
Meanwhile, R.J. Pena, who was seeded second, but upset by Butler in the quarterfinals, came back to finished third with a 5-3 win over Thomas Gantt of NC State.
165 pounds — Nick Sulzer was seeded No. 2 behind Iowa State’s No. 1 seed Mike Moreno before the tournament started. By the end of the event, it was the Cavalier, who was No. 1 in the tournament with a 5-2 win over the Cyclone in the final.
Sulzer reached the championship match when he dominated Michigan’s Dan Yates, 10-3, while Moreno won an instate battle against Northern Iowa’s Cooper Moore, 10-5.
Yates came back to finish third with a 1:39 pin against Moore. It was Yates’ second fall of the tournament.
174 pounds — Andrew Howe of Oklahoma solidified his No. 1 national ranking with a championship at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. But compared to his first four matches in Vegas — which included two falls and two majors — the Sooner senior (and former Wisconsin champ and three-time AA) barely held on to beat Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh.
The Husker earned a spot in the final when he blanked Virginia’s Stephen Doty, 6-0, in the semifinal. Doty came back to finish third with a pin in 6:27 against The Citadel’s Turtogtokh Luvsandorg in the consolation final.
184 pounds — Cornell’s Gabe Dean may only be a freshman for the Big Red, but that inexperience didn’t hurt the native of Lowell, Mich., from capturing his first Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Dean scored a 13-3 major decision against Nebraska’s seventh-seed Timothy Dudley in the final, but it was the Big Red’s tiebreaking win against No. 1 seed Jake Swartz of Boise State in the semifinals.
Dudley had reached the finals after the Husker dominated Wyoming’s Ben Stroh in the semifinals.
Ohio State’s Kenny Courts, who was seeded No. 2 but lost to Dudley 9-8 in the quarterfinals, came back to claim third place with a 4:48 pin against Brown’s Ophir Bernstein.
197 pounds — Oklahoma’s Travis Rutt only had to wrestle once on Saturday when his semifinal foe Nick Heflin medically forfeited that bout. That victory put Rutt in the championship where the Sooner defeated American’s Dan Mitchell, 6-4.
Mitchell advance to the final when he earned a stunning 4-2 victory over No. 1 seed Taylor Meeks of Oregon State.
Meeks settled for fourth place when he medically forfeited the consolation final to Boise State’s Cody Dixon, who came back to win seven wrestlebacks after losing a first-round match to Derek Thomas of Utah Valley. Dixon’s final two wins came via a medical forfeit as Ohio State’s Nick Heflin did not compete in the wrestlebacks.
Heavyweight — Michigan’s true freshman Adam Coon proved his quarterfinal win over NC State’s Nick Gwiazdowski on Friday was no fluke when the eighth-seeded Wolverine defeated Boise State’s No. 2 seed J.T. Felix, 7-5 in sudden victory. Gwiazdowski, who was seeded No. 1 came back to finish third with a 4-3 win over Utah Valley’s Adam Fager. Fager was seeded No. 12 but upset Oklahoma’s Ross Larsen and American’s Blake Herrin to reach the semifinals before losing to Coon.