Sunday, November 26, 2023

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


Once again as it was for 125, 133, & 141 my goal here is to try and determine a few things. Who are legit title contenders are. Who are darkhorse title contenders are. Who are place-winner contenders are. Who are darkhorse place-winner contenders are.  149 is unique for a few distinct reasons.  For one we have a few redshirts who could possibly show up and do some damage. We also have an unusual number of wrestlers coming up from 141 lbs, looking to see if they can have the same success up a weight that they had down a weight.  In a sport that is all about proving yourself, that is the name of the game 149 lbs CKLV. 

Ridge Lovett

Skipping out on last year's tournament during his redshirt, Ridge Lovett returns to varsity action having thus far captured two CKLV bronze medals in previous tournaments. This tournament he looks to take home the gold, as he'll have plenty of wolves looking to keep him off the top of the Vegas mountain.  Against the competition, he owns two victories over Jaden Abas (4-2 & 9-2).  

Kyle Parco
Arizona State

Right there with Lovett, will be Kyle Parco.  He's a CKLV silver medalist from last year, looking to take home gold this tournament. Against the competition, he's defeated Jaden Abas on three occasions (2-1, 11-3 & 10-2). He also owns an 8-5 decision over Jackson Arrington, a 4-1 decision over Chance Lamer & a 4-1 decision over Jayden Scott. 

Caleb Henson
Virginia Tech 

Stranger things have happened, but I can't think of a single reason why the Hokies would start currently redshirting Tom Crook over Caleb Henson. I suppose they could. For one it would allow us to see where Crook stands in the 149 lbs class, as he took 5th here last season.  To me it makes much more sense to put in eligible champ Caleb Henson.  Defeating Jackson Arrington twice (4-2 & 6-1), he also owns a 10-5 decision over Dylan D'Emilio & an 11-1 major decision over Jaden Abas. He also owns a 5-1 win over Shannon Hanna. 

Dylan D'Emilio 
Ohio State 

Dylan D'Emilio really stepped it up a notch last season, earning 8th place finishes both here at CKLV & at the NCAA DI championships competing at 141 lbs. Now he's up at 149 lbs & while he's thus far put together an 8-1 record, we'll really get to see where he stands in his new weight class. Over the past 14 tournaments, Ohio State has won the CKLV team title on six occasions. Nebraska has won it on three, including the last three tournaments. Keep in mind we also have Michigan & North Carolina State looking to bring home the team title as well.  For the Buckeyes to win title #7, they're gonna have to rely on guys like D'Emilio performing well. 

Jackson Arrington
North Carolina State 

As mentioned, the CKLV team title is gonna be a tight race between Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan & North Carolina State. It'll take the individual performances to come together to win the team title.  I would think as of right now, based on ranking & result, Jackson Arrington would be the *5 seed.  Ironically enough, 5th in last year's championships, Arrington can really get on a roll at times. Against the competition, his most impressive victory is a 13-2 major over Chance Lamer.  he also owns a 16-0 tech fall over Marcos Polanco & a 5-3 s.v. over Quinn Kinner. 

Chance Lamer
Cal Poly 

In the hunt for a team title, Michigan would probably still love to have Chance Lamer on their side, but the former Wolverine is now a Mustang. Cal Poly has put in a tremendous amount of money, resources & hard work to build their wrestling program & what a treat it'd be for them to crown a CKLV champ this weekend. Is Lamer eligible? Well a bad loss to Arrington doesn't look good, but at this level, those kind of losses can be turned around. He also kept Parco to a takedown & he himself owns an 18-2 technical fall over Colin Realbuto. 

Jaden Abas

With some of the tough losses he has taken to the list of talent that will be at CKLV, you'd have to conclude Jaden Abas a darkhorse at this point. An All American three seasons ago, it was two seasons ago he placed 5th here in Vegas. In a rut, Abas could really use a good tournament. He needs it.  To be one of the top 8 with as many ranked opponents as he'd have to face would be the start of rejuvenation. The higher he gets on the podium, the better. 

Ethen Miller

You know good & well in the wake of brother Kal's huge upset over Cole Matthews, Ethen Miller is looking for his own crowning moment. Among this wide variety of talent, I have a hard time imagining him winning the whole thing, but I can see him pulling off a huge upset or two. He's taken Chance Lamer to two, two point matches. One of which ended in overtime. It's not hard to think he might be able turn that into a win. Same with his 3-2 loss to Jaden Abas.  When you're looking to make an early season statement, Vegas is the place to do it. 

Quinn Kinner

You want a true darkhorse? Dark as in pitch black? Here you go.  Just to place top 8 in Vegas will be an all out war, I'm not disputing that. However, I do think Quinn Kinner is still a threat to the CKLV title. Albeit, darkhorse, but still a threat.  A 3-0 win over Dylan D'Emilio, he gave Caleb Henson a scare in a very close 3-2 match. For those not doing their homework on Kinner, any upset he pulls off is likely to be from the top position. Guy is NOT easy to escape from & I can see someone making the mistake of chosing down looking for an escape point only to find themselves now down two minutes of riding time. Kinner's a tough wrestler who's not quite proven himself top 8, although he's been lingering at the door for quite sometime.  CKLV provides great opportunity. 

Casey Swiderski
Iowa State 

The thing about being on top of the mountain is that you always have someone looking to knock you off.  Casey Swiderski is new to the 149 lbs class this year, but last year he was new to the 141 lbs class & there he finished out the season one match shy of All American honors.  So far he's 6-0, with his best win over Joe Zargo of Wisconsin (who will not be in Vegas).  Is he capable of some big wins? Capable of finding himself on the CKLV award stand? I'd say so.  

Jordan Williams 
Oklahoma State

As said before, nothing John Smith decides to do will ever surprise me.  With that said, I just can't see Smith starting Carter Young over Jordan Williams here.  For one, Young is currently redshirting.  For two, Williams just manhandled young 15-2 in recent competition.  It'd make no sense at all to start Young over Williams here in Vegas, but again, 30 years of observing John Smith, I know better than to ever say never.  With that said, Williams continues to make a name for himself in the Cowboy lineup.  Owns a 5-4 decision over Ethen Miller. 

Cody Bond
Appalachian State

Off in the distance, all by his lonesome, we have Cody Bond.  This isn't his first time competing at 149 lbs, but it has been four seasons ago.  A loss via technical fall to Jackson Arrington is the only competition he has faced thus far out of those that will be in this bracket.  He moved down to 149 after competing at 157 the past three seasons.  It goes without saying he did so because he feels he can be more competitive down a weight. We'll see that decision assessed here in Vegas. 

Gabe Willochell

Here's a guy I'm really excited to see compete this weekend.  He was competing for Edinboro at 141 lbs & doing quite well. Now he's at a new school & at a new weight. Still only a sophomore after all this time, I think the future is bright for Willochell. Perhaps, so is the present.  He's pulled off some huge victories in the past. Maybe he'll do so again here in Vegas. 

Nick Vafiadis

Anxious to see Nick Vafiadis compete this tournament. Thus far he's defeated Marcos Polanco 16-12, but I think under the tutelage of Coach Kolat he's going to end up doing a lot of big things in his career. It may very well start here at Cliff Keen. 

Shannon Hanna 

Shannon Hanna has thus far had a very credible career competing at 141 lbs.  Taking a redshirt this season, he is testing the waters of 149 lbs. No guarantee he'll compete here this weekend, but I would think it might not be a bad idea for him to do so.  After all, a redshirt season would be the time to test out the new weight class. So far his only competition via 149 has been at the Southeast Open where he went 2-2.  I wouldn't be all that surprised if he doesn't go back down to 141 for the '24-'25 season. 

U.R. Or U.R. 
Ty Smith Or Isaiah Delgado
Utah Valley 

Oddly enough via the bracket at CKLV, the only wins these two have are against one another.  Ty Smith owns a 5-2 win over Isaiah Delgado & Delgado owns a 4-1 s.v. over Smith. Either one of these guys a threat to the CKLV podium? That's a good question.  With Ty Smith, you get 100 or you get 0. There is no in between. He's either the guy you'll easily major or the guy that will have you bridging like Hell trying to keep your shoulders off the mat. Delgado in his own right, can be rather dangerous as well.  So in the quarters or the bloodround looking for a medal? Probably not.  The guy to pull off a huge first or second round upset, thus knocking a seed into the consolations? Now that's a real possibility. 

Colin Realbuto
Northern Iowa

Like Hanna, Colin Realbuto is taking a redshirt this year.  I think we could see him here at CKLV though.  8th at the championships last year, he owns a 5-4 victory over Jackson Arrington. He also for what it is worth owns a 6:18 fall over Isaiah Delgado. 

Marcos Polanco

The porridge isn't always hot Goldylocks but sometimes it is.  Marcos Polanco is another one of those guys that is capable of pulling off an upset. He's also handed Jordan Williams a 3-1 s.v. loss. I would say he's capable of pulling off another & he's a guy I wouldn't look past. 

Jayden Scott
North Carolina

Year after year, season after season we have various moments in duals and/or tournaments when someone's performance has everyone asking, "Where in the Hell did he come from?" It's Las Vegas, so of course there's a possibility it could happen here.  It's something you can't predict, but what the Hell? I can definitely see Jayden Scott being one of these people.  He hasn't figured out how to win the really big matches yet, but he has figured out how to keep the really big matches close.  He recently lost 4-1 to Kyle Parco.  That's a one takedown match. Freshmen usually go into these things with a nothing to lose attitude, unafraid to take risks. In an environment that thrives on that type of behavior, this could be Scott's kinda town. 

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