Minnesota Ready for Cliff Keen Invite
A dozen Gophers will take their talents to the west coast this weekend to take on the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev. on Dec. 1 and 2. Wrestling will begin at 9:00 a.m. both days.
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Both Friday and Saturday, live video coverage is available on FloWrestling with a paid subscription. Fanatics can also follow each match at @GopherWrestling on Twitter. Be sure to check back on GoperSports.com to see full results from each day’s action.
Minnesota Notes – November 30, 2017
Cliff Keen Invitational 2017 Pre-Seeds
Last Time Out – SDSU/Okla. State: Minnesota had a long road trip prior to the holiday weekend. Traveling nearly 900 miles in a three-day span, the Gophers came away with one win and one loss. Taking down No. 16 SDSU, the Gophers won six of 10 matches while in Stillwater, Minnesota could only bring one win back. Many of the matches, even the losses, came down to the final period including six matches that were decided by two points or less in the Oklahoma State dual. Marquee Weight
Top Contenders: The Cliff Keen Invitational will host at least seven top-20 wrestlers in each division, along with 11 top-three ranked wrestlers across all weights. The 165-pound division looks to be one of the most talent-filled brackets of the weekend. There will be half of the top-15 in the bracket, including five top-10 wrestlers.
What Happened in Vegas: Last season, Minnesota took on the 35th annual Cliff Keen Invitational and brought back a pair of champions, and five place winners. Jake Short is the only returning champion from last year’s finishers. Short won the 157-pound bracket a year after he was the 149-pound runner-up in Vegas. Short was unranked at the time and defeated two ranked opponents while on the mats in Nevada. Mitch McKee also seized a fourth-place finish last season while Nick Wanzek finished eighth. Minnesota as a team captured fourth place with 100 points, it was the third straight top-four finish at the Cliff Keen.
The Lizard: Being the final undefeated wrestler on the Gophers roster, No. 3 Ethan Lizak pulled off one of the most impressive comebacks you will see against former No. 3 Nick Piccinnini of Oklahoma State. Trailing 8-1 after the first period, Lizak used two near fall scores to come within one point by the start of the third period and then used a takedown in the third to pull off the come from behind win on the road.
On the Horizon: After Minnesota takes their talents to the west coast, they will return home to face Fresno State. The Bulldogs wrestling program was gone up until this season, and the Dec. 10 matchup with Minnesota will be their first true Division I road test since the program started back up.
Solid Start: In his first month of action, transfer Owen Webster has earned respect at the Division I level. Webster has won five of his first seven matches, including an 11-second pin in the Daktronics Open. Even in his two losses, Webster lost only by a two-point decision and by fall.
All the Way in Poland: The Gophers were able to send one current and one former wrestler to Poland for the U23 World Championships. Sophomore Mitch McKee and alumnus Michael Kroells took on some of the best wrestlers in the world on one of the biggest stages. Both wrestlers fell in their first matches and were not able to advance to the consolation brackets.
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