Cliff Keen Las Vegas Preview/Predictions – Tigerstyle edition

Check out this 3800+ word Tigerstyle edition preview of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas

November 29, 2018



#2 Sebastian Rivera, NW
#3 Ronnie Bresser, ORST.
#8 Sean Russell, MINN
#6 Louie Hayes, UVA
#9 Zeke Moisey, NEB
#10 Travis Piotrowski, ILL
#13 Devin Schroder, PU
#16 Drew Mattin, MICH
#15 Gabe Townsell, STAN
#19 Jay Schwarm, UNI
#20 Cole Verner, WYO

Other Potential Contenders:
#14 Rico Montoya, NCO
Colby Smith, MIZZ
Drew Hildebrandt, CMU
Brent Fleetwood, SDST
Christian Moody, OU

This weight class is like almost any weight class at this tournament absolutely loaded. It features 12 ranked wrestlers (only 11 of whom were seeded) and several other fly in the ointment type of wrestlers who could make moves here. Smith has the potential to do big things in this bracket and it will be interesting to see how he looks on the second day here as he has not yet had to make 125 on back to back days yet. Smith is long and very tough on top, thus far he has not met a wrestler who could deal with those traits. Smith’s weakness is likely goers and guys that have elite neutral offense. In this field only Rivera and possibly Russell are elite from their feet. Russell, Hayes, Schroder and Schwarm are all guys that will push the tempo and would potentially be difficult match-ups for Smith. Rivera is likely the favorite in this weight class as he is very strong from neutral and is solid in every other position. He is great at finishing when he gets to legs, as he is extremely technical. Bresser is very difficult to score on and is lightning fast, but he tends to struggle to generate a ton of offense. Russell is a guy who wears people down with his pace and attacks a lot. He is proficient from top and bottom but his neutral work is his best trait. Hayes is really tough on top and in scrambles. Moisey is oft injured and is presently likely not at 100%, but he is a two-time AA for a reason and is very tough in neutral and as a scrambler. Piotrowski is just getting healthy for the Illini and he is a long defensive wrestler. Schroder is a goer, Mattin is very solid technically but lacks horsepower, and Townsell is very slick on his feet but struggles on the mat. Schwarm is a bear on top, but struggles from bottom. Verner is a wildcard as he recently notched a big win over Moisey. Montoya is good upperbody and is big for the weight class. Hildebrandt is very solid and won’t make many mistakes. Fleetwood is tough on top and Moody is a very good scrambler. There will be a lot of crazy matches in this weight starting as soon as the round of 32. It will be interesting to see where Smith falls in this bracket.

Rivera, NW
Russell, MINN
Hayes, UVA
Bresser, ORST
Smith, MIZZ
Piotrowski, ILL
Schroder, PU
Fleetwood, SDST



#3 Stevan Micic, MICH
#2 Nick Suriano, RU
#5 Luke Pletcher, TOSU
#7 Ethan Lizak, MINN
#10 John Erneste, MIZZ
#13 Montorie Bridges, WYO
#17 Micky Phillippi, PITT
UR Chas Tucker, CU
#12 Korbin Myers, VT
#11 Dylan Duncan, ILL
UR Ben Thornton, PU
#15 Cam Sykora, NDST
#16 Colin Valdiviez, NW
#18 Sean Nickell, CSUB

Other Potential Contenders:
#14 Josh Terao, AU
#20 Tucker Sjomeling, NEB
Brian Courtney, UVA

Thoughts: Erneste got a solid seed here. The potential quarterfinal with Lizak is super interesting as both guys are known for being hammers on top and Erneste will have a bit of length advantage on Lizak, which will be an unusual occurrence. If Erneste were to defeat Lizak his potential bout with Micic would be a tough one stylistically as though Micic can struggle at times from bottom his neutral work is elite and he can score a great many takedowns on most everyone. Suriano is elite defensively and is an excellent scrambler. Pletcher is tough to score on, but struggles from neutral at picking up points. Lizak is extremely tough on top and is underrated on his feet, but may lack size here. Erneste is tough on top and has a variety of options from neutral. Erneste can struggle on bottom against elite guys. Bridges is very solid on his feet. Phillippi is a plus scrambler. Tucker is really quick from neutral, and is solid from top. Myers is an excellent scrambler and has solid neutral offense. Duncan has a great Hi-C and is a fun to watch scrambler. Thornton is underrated and is big for the weight class. Sykora is tough on top. Valdiviez is another tough scrambler and solid leg attacker. Nickell has some great leg attacks, but lacks strength here. Terao is super fun to watch, but has yet to compete this season. Sjomeling has a great win over Bridges from earlier this season and is one to watch here. Courtney is a stingy defensive wrestler who is tough on the mat. Ultimately I think Missouri will be on an upswing in there training schedule here and that Erneste will make a statement and have a great performance to help kickstart his senior season.

Micic, MICH
Suriano, RU
Erneste, MIZZ
Lizak, MINN
Pletcher, TOSU
Tucker, CU
Bridges, WYO
Duncan, ILL


#2 Joey McKenna, TOSU
#3 Jaydin Eierman, MIZZ
#7 Mike Carr, ILL
#11 Josh Alber, UNI
#16 Nicholas Gil, NAVY
#8 Matt Findlay, UVU
#10 Chad Red, NEB
#15 Dom Demas, OU
#18 Nate Limmex, PU
#19 Kanen Storr, MICH
#20 Yahya Thomas, NW

The potential third career folkstyle bout between McKenna and Eierman in the finals would be appointment viewing. McKenna is incredibly fundamental and has great leg attacks, whereas Eierman is incredibly funky and can score from anywhere. Mike Carr leads the host of studs looking to break up the party here. He has really strong leg attacks and a strong gas tank. Alber is a solid guy who has some strong wins in his career, but has never quite snatched that huge win. Gil is having a strong season for Navy. He is tough on top. Findlay is off to a really strong start including a win over Chad Red earlier this season. He is a strong upperbody guy and solid scrambler. The aforementioned Red was an AA this past season at this weight and has a ton of pure talent, but he has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season. Demas has some solid wins mixed with some surprising losses this season. He is explosive on his feet and can score on anyone, but his mat wrestling can be so-so. Limmex is a veteran for Purdue that is tough to score on. Storr was a much ballyhooed recruit coming into Iowa State and now finds himself in the line-up for Michigan. He is a good scrambler and will be a tough out here. Thomas is a guy who has quietly built a solid resume and has been improving at a good clip. Ultimately although there are a ton of talented guys in this field I think we see an Eierman and McKenna final. I do not love that Eierman’s likely path to get their includes both past AA Red and Carr ( who he defeated in a 12-10 bout) in the dual but I believe he will make it there and hand McKenna a loss that will be huge for seeding at NCAA’s.

Eierman, MIZZ
McKenna, TOSU
Carr, ILL
Red, NEB
Storr, MICH
Findlay, UVU
Demas, OU
Alber, UNI


#3 Anthony Ashnault, RU
#2 Micah Jordan, TOSU
#4 Grant Leeth, MIZZ
#6 Max Thomsen, UNI
#9 Mitch Finesilver, DUKE
#8 Brock Zacherl, CLA
#10 Austin O’Connor, UNC
#13 Tommy Thorn, MINN
#17 Ryan Blees, VT
#15 Josh Heil, CAM
#18 Russell Rohlfing, CSUB
#20 Jared Prince, NAVY

There are three huge hammers at this weight and the field is deep. I am really excited to see Grant Leeth compete here. He is extremely tough to score on and is a great scrambler and leg attacker. Ashnault is a solid technician who overwhelms people with a strong top game and solid scrambling. Jordan is the best leg attacker at this weight. He is extremely talented in that regard, but his mat wrestling especially from bottom is a definite weakness. Thomsen is really strong from his feet and is solid on the mat and is not far off the top three here. Finesilver is long for the weight class and values a high pace. Zacherl is tough to score on and from top. O’Connor has a ton of potential and is a contender to make a statement here. He is long for this weight class. Thorn is a past AA at 141 and is a great scrambler. Blees is tough to open up and has a high pace. Heil is the younger brother of past 2-time NCAA champion Dean Heil and is an excellent scrambler in his own right. Rohlfing is off to an up and down start to his season, but he is an unorthodox wrestler who owns a win over #7 Pat Lugo from Iowa this season. Prince is a great scrambler and is tough to wrestle. From the 3 seed Leeth is likely to see Zacherl in the quarters which is an interesting match-up. Leeth is really good at picking his spots and Zacherl also favors a low scoring bout. Look for Leeth to take that match by a tight 3-2 type of decision. The potential Jordan vs. Leeth match is one I am super excited for. Leeth’s defense and scrambling vs. Jordan’s shot selection. I am taking Leeth to pull the slight upset and set up a match with Ashnault. I like for Leeth to frustrate the chippy Ashnault and to send him home with another close win. If Leeth can stay away from bottom I think he is too strong for Ashnault here.

Leeth, MIZZ
Ashnault, RU
Jordan, TOSU
Thomsen, UNI
O’Connor, UNC
Finesilver, DUKE
Rohlfing, CSUB
Thorn, MINN


#4 Tyler Berger, NEB
#6 Ryan Deakin, NW
#7 Kennedy Monday, UNC
#5 Ke-Shawn Hayes, TOSU
#10 Taleb Rahmani, PITT
#20 John Van Brill, RU
#17 Hunter Willits, ORST
#18 Griffin Parriott, PU

Other Potential Contenders:
BC Laprade, VT
Jarrett Jacques, MIZZ
Eric Barone, ILL
#12 Luke Weiland, Army

It will be interesting to see where Jacques is drawn into this bracket and what kind of damage he can do. I am really high on his potential and the more tough matches he sees here the better gauge he will have on what he might need to improve throughout the season. Tyler Berger comes in as the on paper favorite. He is very tough on top and is a very talented scrambler as well. Deakin is fun to watch. He is aggressive and is tough from neutral. Monday is incredibly long for this weight class and that lends to him being a match-up nightmare for some guys. Hayes is possibly the most talented guy in this weight class from a pure wrestling standpoint, as he is really good from top, bottom and neutral. Hayes is significantly undersized at 157 however and this likely lends to him not being quite having the horsepower to beat the best at this weight class. Rahmani is a great scrambler and can give the best guys here a match. Van Brill is very highly regarded, but has had a nightmare start to the season and seeks to right the ship here. Willits has gotten off to a solid start to the season. Parriott was a big recruit for Purdue and will look to make a statement here. Laprade was very solid last season and handed Jacques and overtime loss in his dual debut. Barone is a past NCAA qualifier who is very stingy and tough to score om. Weiland is a wildcard if he is competing as he is an excellent scrambler. Jacques has some solid leg attacks and is tough to score on due to his scrambling ability. I look for him to compete well here, but fall short of placing.

Deakin, NW
Berger, NEB
Monday, UNC
Parriott, PU
Hayes, TOSU
Rahmani, PITT
Laprade, VT
Willits, ORST


#5 Logan Massa, MICH
#6 Branson Ashworth, WYO
#8 Bryce Steiert, UNI
#10 Isaiah White, NEB
#14 Joey Gunther, ILL
#15 Connor Flynn, MIZZ
#16 Mehki Lewis, VT
#13 Demetrius Romero, UVU
#11 Andrew Fogarty, NDST
#19 Jonathan Viruet, Brown
UR Cam Coy, UVA
#18 Jake Wentzel, PITT

Flynn has been wrestling really well lately, highlighted by his recent win over Lewis. This field is not quite as top heavy as some of the others here, but is unquestionably deep. Massa is the headliner here and he has great neutral offense as well as a solid top game. Ashworth is really stingy and is a hammer on top. Ashworth is coming off a big win over #7 Chandler Rogers. Steiert has a solid Hi-C and is a talented scrambler. White has a great low sweep single and is long for the weight class. Gunther is strong and tough to score on. Gunther holds a win over Flynn from earlier this season. Flynn is a goer and is tough on top. Mehki has an fast pace, but is not amazing on the mat. If anyone from a seed lower than three wins this tournament it is likely to be him as he has crazy upside. Romero is a very solid wrestler who is big for the weight and is tough to score on. Fogarty is tough from top and is a very technical finisher. Viruet is long for the weight and is a good scrambler. Coy is another big recruit who is looking to earn a ranking here. Coy is a solid scrambler. Wentzel is fun to watch as he is a big move guy and fun scrambler. I look for Flynn to get by a very tough Coy in the quarters, before dropping his semi to Steiert (who surprisingly he has never met). I look for Flynn to finish around his seed here perhaps avenging his loss to Gunther on the way.

Massa, MICH
Ashworth, WYO
Lewis, VT
Steiert, UNI
Flynn, MIZZ
White NEB
Fogarty, NDST
Gunther, ILL


#3 Myles Amine, MICH
#4 Daniel Lewis, MIZZ
#5 David McFadden, VT
#9 Taylor Lujan, UNI
#11 Mikey Labriola, NEB
#15 Dylan Lydy, PU
#13 Johnny Sebastian, NW
#16 Brandon Womack, CU
#20 Kimball Bastian, UVU
#18 Matt Finesilver, DUKE
UR Devin Skatzka, MINN

The top three here are a cut above the rest. Amine took an overtime victory over Lewis in their only meeting last March. McFadden and Lewis have a longer history with McFadden claiming a victory when both were freshman by an 8-4 decision at this tournament. McFadden also beat Lewis in the U-23 world trials this summer in two matches. Amine is really tough from neutral and is solid on the mat. Lewis is a monster on top and is a very solid scrambler as well. McFadden is a great scrambler and is tough from the top position. Lujan is one of the most fun to watch guys in college wrestling. He will throw the kitchen sink at you for sure. His approach lends to high scoring matches, but he often gives up a lot of points to the better guys as well. Labriola is long for the weight and is tough from top. Lydy is a goer and is really solid on his feet. Sebastian was a huge recruit, but to this point has not panned out as well as expected. He is stingy and is tough in a crab ride. Womack is a great scrambler who lacks the horsepower to be at 174. At 165 Womack AA’d earlier in his career and he will be a tough out. Bastian is big for this weight and is very solid in upperbody ties and in controlling the mat. Finesilver is a goer who is long for the weight class. Skatzka has a ton of talent and can score very efficiently from neutral at times. I look for Lewis to walk through Sebastian here, possibly by bonus if he can get going on top to set up a tough match-up with McFadden. If you throw out the past history between the two Lewis has a better folkstyle resume. For Lewis to defeat McFadden he will have to ride well here. I think Lewis wins a close match and sets up a rematch with Amine. I think Lewis shows well in that bout but drops a close bout to Amine.

Amine, MICH
Lewis, MIZZ
McFadden, VT
Lujan, UNI
Labriola, NEB
Skatzka, MINN
Lydy, PU
Bastian, UVU



#1 Myles Martin, TOSU
#3 Taylor Venz, NEB
#4 Zach Zavatsky, VT
#9 Chip Ness, UNC
#8 Max Dean, CU
#10 Drew Foster, UNI
#13 Nino Bonaccorsi, PITT
#18 C.J. LaFragola, Brown
#16 Louie Deprez, Binghampton
UR Jelani Embree, MICH

Other Potential Contenders:
Dylan Wisman, MIZZ
Kayne McCallum, OU
Jordan Pagano, RU
Owen Webster, MINN
Max Lyon, PU

I am excited to see Dylan Wisman take on a ridiculous field here at 184. Wisman is very hard to score on and has a great Hi-C and great hips. Myles Martin is an absolute freak. The former national champion is the odds on favorite here thanks to outstanding shot variety discipline and scrambling ability that is uncanny for a man of of his size. Venz is extremely unorthodox and tough on top. Zavatsky who recently beat Wisman 8-5 is a hammer on top and is a great scrambler in his own right. Ness is a talented scrambler that has a propensity to wrestle well in big moments. Dean is a grinder and has reliable offense. Foster is a past AA as well who is long for the weight and has smooth leg attacks. Bonaccorsi is a high volume shooter who will be match-up problems for anyone who is not yet in shape. LaFragola is funky and fun to watch. Deprez is a hammer on top and will be fun to watch. Embree is a young stud that Michigan is really high on. He has a lot of offense on his feet. McCallum is a transfer from the now defunct Eastern Michigan program (Shame on their athletic department) and is solid. Pagano is likely undersized at this weight, but has been an NCAA qualifier in the past. Lyon is a talented freshman who I am excited to see compete. Overall I see Wisman competing hard, but not quite slipping onto the podium in a loaded weight class.

Martin, TOSU
Venz, NEB
Zavatsky, VT
Dean, CU
Foster, UNI
Ness, UNC
Bonaccorsi, PITT
Deprez, BING


#3 Kollin Moore, TOSU
#8 Nathan Traxler, STAN
#12 Corey Griego, ORST
#9 Stephen Loiseau, DREX
#10 Christian Brunner, PU
#17 Tom Sleigh, VT
#16 Jackson Striggow, MICH
#15 Jake Woodley, OU
UR Ben Honis, CU
#18 Eric Schultz, NEB
#20 Zach Chakonis, NW

Other Potential Contenders:
Wyatt Koelling, MIZZ
Tanner Orndorff, UVU

Thoughts: Koelling can do some things here. This field is not extremely top heavy and he is right there with guys ranked between ten and twenty at this weight class. Koelling’s greco background and improved leg attacks make him an interesting guy to follow here. Moore is a hammer. He is a goer and is very slick on his feet. Traxler is long for the weight and is tough on top. Griego is a good scrambler and has some good upperbody stuff. Loiseau is extremely fun to watch and is a great scrambler. Brunner is very physical and is solid from his feet. Sleigh is excellent at managing matches and winning them late. Striggow has some big wins in his career and is tough in scrambles. Woodley is very tough on top. Honis is big for the weight class and will be a tough guy to gameplan for. Schultz and Chakonus are up and comers here. Orndorff is a very smart wrestler who I felt deserved a mention here.

Moore, TOSU
Loiseau, DREX
Traxler, STAN
Sleigh, VT
Griego, ORST
Brunner, PU
Honis, CU
Koelling, MIZZ


#3 Gable Steveson, MINN
#9 Conan Jennings, NW
#11 Jeramy Sweany, CU
#12 Cory Daniel, UNC
#19 Joey Goodhart, DREX
#15 Tate Orndorff, UVU
#13 Matt Stencil, CMU
#17 AJ Nevills, FRST
UR Zach Elam, MIZZ

Other Potential Contenders:
Chase Singletary, TOSU
Deuce Rachal, ILL
Demetrious Thomas, PITT

Thoughts: Elam got a really bad draw here. I feel confident that he can do some big things and could have even made the finals if he were opposite Steveson here, but alas he will at best see him in the quarters. That said Elam’s combination of length, solid gas tank, and punishing top game will be on display here and he will have lots of opportunities to defeat some ranked wrestlers here. Steveson is a phenom type true freshman. He has all the accompanying hype of a J’Den Cox or a Spencer Lee to name a couple. He is incredibly light on his feet and is surprisingly strong for his age. He is special. Jennings is a huge heavyweight who presents match up problems for many. Sweany is an athletic heavyweight who is a hammer on top. Daniel has been solid throughout his career for UNC. Goodhart is an active heavyweight and a solid scrambler. Orndorff is just a redshirt freshman and is looking to improve his resume here. Stencil is a big move guy and a solid scrambler. He gets a ton of pins. Nevills is an athletic young heavyweight who moves well. Singletary also is a redshirt freshman and he is very technical which helps him make up somewhat for his relatively small stature. Rachal is a great thrower and is an active heavyweight. Thomas is a former NAIA champion who is finally getting his D1 shot with Pittsburgh and has been very solid thus far. This field is tough, but not incredible outside of Steveson and I believe if Elam wrestles well he is in the top five here.

Steveson, MINN
Jennings, NW
Elam, MIZZ
Sweany, CU
Singletary, TOSU
Stencil, CMU
Daniel, UNC
Nevills, FRST

Team Race
#2 Ohio State
#6 Michigan
#7 Missouri
#8 Minnesota
#9 Nebraska
#11 Virginia Tech
#12 UNI
#14 Rutgers
#15 Northwestern
#16 Cornell
#18 Illinois

Thoughts: I like Ohio State to win, but Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota and Nebraska will all seek to make it tight at the top. This field is incredibly deep and whichever team outperforms there rankings/ seedings the most likely will win here.

Takeaways: All rankings utilized in this article as well as the preseeds are from Flowrestling. This should be a really fun tournament and we will learn a lot about our team and get an early shot at getting some big wins for March seeding and qualification. Bonus points and the team score are important here, but the individual wins are more so. I am really excited for this one and I might have some quick bracket reactions on the forum once those are released. Thanks for reading!