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Stieber becomes second wrestler to win four CKLV championships
By Mike Finn. WIN Editor
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Come March, Ohio State’s Logan Stieber hopes to become just the fourth all-time NCAA Division I wrestler to win four individual titles at the nationals in St. Louis.
But before that, the 141-pound Buckeye has to accomplish equally impressive regular-season goals, which is what Stieber did Saturday night at the Las Vegas Convention Center where he became just the second wrestler to win four Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational championships.
To tie the mark set by Stephen Abas, the former NCAA champion from Fresno State, Stieber defeated Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter — the same wrestler the Buckeye defeated in last year’s NCAA tournament for his third national title — by a 12-3 margin. For his efforts, Stieber was also award O.W. honors for a third-straight year.
“This is an amazing tournament and has gotten even better this year,” said Stieber, who hopes to join Pat Smith (Oklahoma State), Cael Sanderson (Iowa State) and Kyle Dake (Cornell) as four-time NCAA champs. “Every year, it got tougher and tougher. It’s nice to wrestle a tournament like this and get full matches, get tired and see how I feel in the third period and see if I can score points in the third period.”
This marked the first tournament that Carter competed at 141 pounds after starting this season at 149 pounds. Did it help Stieber to have someone like the Hokie All-American to return to this weight class?
“I think it helps me, but I wouldn’t have mind if he stayed up there,” Stieber said. “Devin is a great kid, who I now personally. He’s an awesome competitor and will make me or anyone get better.”
Stieber was one of two top-ranked wrestlers to win a championship in the 33rd annual event.
Another was Minnesota’s Dylan Ness, who rallied to beat Nebraska’s second-ranked James Green, 4-3. Unlike previous high-scoring meeting — including the Gopher’s pin against the Husker in last year’s NCAA quarterfinal — there were only two takedowns in this match; the first coming from Green in the first period and the second coming from Ness in the third period.
“When you wrestle a guy so often, we both know that we do well,” said Ness, who pinned three foes in Las Vegas. “(Green) is a phenomenal wrestler and we both go at it. We might have been too conservative on our feet but I think the next match will be a lot more high scoring.”
Ness was one of two individual champions for Minnesota, which captured the team title; out-distancing Ohio State by a 146-120 margin. The other Gopher title was earned by 133-pound Chris Dardanes, who defeated Michigan’s Rossi Bruno, 7-3, in the championship match.
Two other formerly top-ranked wrestlers — 174-pound Logan Storley and 197-pound Chris Schiller — failed to win their weight classes.
Storley settled for fourth place after losing to Virginia’s Blaise Butler, 9-7 in sudden victory of their semifinal. Schiller lost to Iowa State’s Kyven Gadson, 5-3, in the title bout.
“This tournament was about me finding myself,” said Gadson, who lost to Schiller in last year’s third-place match at the NCAA tournament but scored a pair of takedowns to beat the Gophers in the Convention Center. “I found out that I can wrestle. I can wrestle if I decide to.”
Meanwhile, Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh ignored Butler’s upset of Storley, when the second-ranked wrestler scored two takedowns; the second come in the closing seconds to beat Butler, 6-2.
Cornell also recorded two individual championships from 125-pound Nahshon Garrett, who defeated Virginia Tech’s Joey Dance, 6-4, for his second straight CKLV title; and by 149-pound Chris Villalonga, who blanked Michigan’s Alex Pantaleo — who upset three seeded foes as an unseeded wrestler — by a 4-0 margin.
Unfortunately, Cornell saw Gabe Dean, previously the nation’s top-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds, settled for fourth place. Dean first lost to Oregon State’s Tyler Meeks in the semifinals before also falling to North Dakota State’s Hayden Zillmer in the third place match.
Winning the 184-pound championship was Arizona State’s Blake Stauffer, who defeated conference rival Meeks, 5-2, in the title bout.
“This is a rivalry that we have,” said Stauffer of Meeks, who dropped down from 197 pounds this season. “When you get conference match-ups, those matches get more intense.”
Another conference matchup in the finals came at heavyweight where NC State’s Nick Gwiazdowski, the defending national champion, defeated Virginia Tech’s Ty Walz, who upset 2013 CKLV champion Adam Coon of Michigan in the semifinals.
Perhaps the most exciting match came at 165 pounds, where a pair of video reviews helped give Virginia’s Nick Sulzer a 4-2 win over Indiana’s Taylor Walsh. The first review gave the second-ranked Cavalier a takedown at the end of the second period and then clinched the bout when a video review at the end of the match did not give the Hoosier a takedown.
2014 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational Championship matches
Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) dec. Joey Dance (Virginia Tech), 6-4
Chris Dardanes (Minnesota) dec. Rossi Bruno (Michigan), 7-3
Logan Stieber (Ohio State) major dec. Devin Carter (Virginia Tech), 12-3
Chris Villalonga (Cornell) dec. Alec Pantaleo (Michigan), 4-0
Dylan Ness (Minnesota) dec. James Green (Nebraska), 4-3
Nick Sulzer (Virginia) dec. Taylor Walsh (Indiana), 4-2
Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) dec. Blaise Butler (Virginia), 6-2
Blake Stauffer (Arizona State) dec. Taylor Meeks (Oregon State), 5-2
Kyven Gadson (Iowa State) dec. Scott Schiller (Minnesota), 5-3
Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State) dec. Ty Walz (Virginia Tech), 6-3
Top 10 Teams
Pl. School Points
- Minnesota 146
- Ohio State 120
- Virginia Tech 110
- Iowa State 106
- Cornell 93.5
- Nebraska 89
- Michigan 85
- Virginia 73
- NC State 62
- Oregon State 56