Friday, November 24, 2023

141 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Preview (Fri Dec 1st - Sat Dec 2nd)


This could very well end up being our most fun & exciting weight class.  We have two returning CKLV champions & a returning CKLV finalist.  Not to mention, there's a lot of back and forth here.  The top talent in this bracket is a group of guys that know one another well.  From my vantage point, there's a good number legit title contenders, plus a few darkhorses.  Another thing that makes this weight class interesting is the fact that we have wrestlers here that have proven themselves at other weight classes, yet they have yet to really do anything at 141. Add in the fact that we also have some new faces, and suddenly you have yourself a bracket worth paying attention to. 

Lachlan McNeil
North Carolina

He has a higher ranking, plus he owns a win over last year's CKLV champ Brock Hardy by a 5-2 score. I don't know for sure, but I would say that should give Lachlan McNeil the nod for the *1 seed.  Not only does he own the victory over Hardy, but he's also defeated Ryan Jack by a 3-1 score & he owns two victories (4-0 & 2-1 tiebreaker) over Vince Cornella.  He destroyed Cleveland Belton 14-2.  In the long history of the CKLV Invitational, I have to question, how many Canadians have won the tournament? 

Brock Hardy

Looking to defend the CKLV title he won last season, Brock Hardy has victories over all formidable opponents with exception to McNeil.  A 6-0 decision over Kal Miller, he defeated Ryan Jack 5-4. Owning a 4-0 decision over Josh Koderhandt, he owns a 6-0 decision over Frankie Tal Shahar, a 6-1 decision over Cael Happel & a 7-5 s.v. over Clay Carlson. He's show himself susceptible to upset in the past, but that has usually been in dual meet situations. Come tournament time, Brock Hardy usually shows up. 

Jesse Mendez
Ohio State

Jesse Mendez was an asskicker at 133 lbs & I have no doubt that he'll probably end up being as asskicker at 141 lbs. BUT...the truth of the matter is, he has yet to be tested at 141 lbs. He has yet to face any of the real competition at 141 lbs. He'll more than get his taste of it here at CKLV & we'll find out exactly where he stands. The rankers obviously have a lot of faith in him based on his results 8 lbs lighter.  Time to put that faith on the line. 

Clay Carlson
South Dakota State

A CKLV champ himself two seasons ago, last year he was upset in the semis, then medical forfeiting to 6th place.  In my opinion, Carlson is one of the best top wrestlers in the nation. A scary ride, with the ability to score backpoints on just about anyone. He's one of the few who could be losing heading into the third period, chose up & I'd trust him to make a turn or two to win the match.  Again, not invincible.  He wins a second CKLV title, he's gonna have to earn it.  Testimony includes two victories over Vince Cornella (6-4 & 3-1), two victories of Josh Koderhandt (11-6 & 6:12 fall) & three victories over Cael Happel (7-3, 11-4 & 8-6).  He also owns a 2-1 tiebreaker over Ryan Jack. 

Ryan Jack
North Carolina State

Now you're starting to realize what I mean by how much fun this weight class could potentially be.  We're now up to our fifth legit title contender in Ryan Jack. Jack was 3rd here last season. Not only does he own victories over last year's champ (Brock Hardy by a 9-7 score) & last year's runner up (Cael Happel by a 6-3 score) he also owns two victories over likely *1 seed Lachlan McNeil (4-3 & 7-5).  Add in a 5:16 fall over Josh Koderhandt & a 6-1 decision over Cleveland Belton.  Ryan Jack more than makes the case James Dean. 

Cael Happel
Northern Iowa

The Purple & Gold Panther has a Hell of a lineup he has to go through if he wants to make the CKLV finals again, but he already knows that. He's been here before. This isn't the first time he's had to silence his doubters.  He made the finals last season with a huge 4-1 upset over Clay Carlson, so the idea that he could do it again is not far fetched.  He also for the record owns a 3:54 fall over Zach Redding. 

Kal Miller

Now we start getting into our darkhorse section. I say that realizing that if Kal Miller wrestles anything like he did in the dual against Pittsburgh, there really ain't a thing darkhorse about it.  Miller just destroyed Cole Matthews by a 12-4 major decision score. It was extremely impressive & an affirmation of the vast improvements that Miller has made. He wrestles like that in Vegas, he's a card you hit black jack. Owns both a 5-3 win over Josh Koderhandt & a 15-3 major over Jason Miranda. 

Vince Cornella

A guy bound and determined to climb up the ladder, Vegas would be the place to do it.  Thus far Vince Cornella owns a 4-2 decision over Cleveland Belton, a 7-4 decision over McKenzie Bell, a 6-1 decision over Zach Redding & a dominating 15-3 major over Josh Koderhandt. 

Frankie Tal Shahar

Frankie Tal Shahar has had some ups thus far in his career, but he has yet to really have that defining moment that he's been looking for.  CKLV provides him with the opportunity, and there is good reason to believe that he could deliver. An 8-2 decision over Kal Miller, he also owns a 4-3 decision over Clay Carlson.  Between transfers & graduation, Northwestern was hit hard & the Wildcats could use a new shining star. FTS has a good a shot as does anyone. 

Josh Koderhandt

There are only eight spots on the award stand & I've already named nine wrestlers.  Yet I gotta include Josh Koderhandt for a few different reasons.  First and foremost, he's already made the award stand twice. 5th two years ago, he was 4th last year.  Secondly, he owns a 5-1 decision over Kal Miller & a 15-14 decision over Cleveland Belton.  Thirdly, he's coached by Cary Kolat, a guy whose expertise is winning wrestling matches. Koderhandt has already shown signs of improvement since last season. It's a safe bet to think he'll continue to do so here in Vegas. 

#19 or U.R. 
Anthony Echemendia Or Zach Redding
Iowa State 

I think we're most likely going to see Anthony Echemendia in action for the Cyclones here at 141 lbs, but there is a chance we could see Zach Redding. Echemendia has thus far looked good ever since transferring to Iowa State. Redding fared well at 133, but has yet to show us much at 141.  Regardless of which suits up in the cardinal & gold for action, a good showing at CKLV would be essential for either. 

Cleveland Belton
Oregon State

Cleveland Belton was R12 in last year's championships & it'll be a chore to finish top 12 again, let alone top 8.  Guy has proven he has what it takes to win big matches in the past & he'll once again have to do so if he wants to walk out of Vegas with a medal. 

#24 Or U.R. 
Tagen Jamison OR Sammy Alvarez
Oklahoma State 

Tagen Jamison just recently defeated Sammy Alvarez 4-1, so I guess that makes him the likely starter for the CKLV championships. At the same time though, we might still see Alvarez.  Hard to tell as John Smith's decisions seem to vary depending on the circumstances.  Obviously if Jamison can defeat Alvarez he's capable of some other big wins as well.  As to Alvarez he's proven that he knows how to win tough tournaments. While he's never competed in a CKLV, he has won a Southern Scuffle in the past.  A 5-2 win over Emilio Ysaguirre, he also owns a 18-6 major over Jason Miranda. 

Jason Miranda

The story repeats itself as we have yet another Stanford wrestler that is like so many are & so many have been in recent times.  A tough wrestler, with the ability to, yet has yet to really establish himself. Among the competition, we'd pretty much be asking for a miracle run, but in my 33 years of watching collegiate wrestling, miracle runs aren't as rare as you'd think.  He's taken Cleveland Belton into overtime on two occasions. 

Sergio Lemley

We haven't seen a whole heck of a lot of Sergio Lemley yet, but we've seen enough of him to know what he's capable of. He recently tore McKenzie Bell apart in a dominating 19-4 technical fall.  Such results really make one question is at #32 he is ranked far lower than he ought to be.  With such questions lingering, answers await in Vegas. 

McKenzie Bell

Up, down, up, down, up, down, up.  It's like a game of musical chairs with McKenzie Bell. You never know quite what you're gonna get out of the wild Bronco, other than to know it'll be a wild ride. He's lost some ugly ones & he's won some good ones. Among his notable victories in reference to CKLV include a 6-0 win over Emilio Ysaguirre & a 3:54 fall over Kal Miller. 

Emilio Ysaguirre
Arizona State 

Here is our monkey-wrench. This is the guy that could ruin it all for those who will be placing bets. He's unranked & he's suffered his fair share of losses. On the same hand, he nearly majored last year's CKLV champ Brock Hardy 10-4. That's a fact I don't think you can ignore.  Was it just a fluke win? An off night for Hardy?  I don't know. Nevertheless I'm keeping an eye on Ysaguirre. 

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