Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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


165 lbs features seven returning place-winners, including last year's champion as well as last year's runner-up. This is a weight class that definitely has its favorites & those among them looking to knock them off. History reveals that while their may be much separation between wrestlers as far as rankings are concerned, there isn't near as much separation as far as match scores are concerned. The closer a match is, the more likely it could result in upset. I think we'll see our fair share at 165 lbs. 

David Carr 
Iowa State 

The man to beat here is David Carr of Iowa State. As far as most fans & wrestling media is concerned, the only person Carr need be concerned about this season is Keegan O'Toole of Missouri (who will not be competing here).  For anyone to come in here & plausibly knock off Carr, would be a huge upset. In fact, it'd be hard to argue against it being the upset of the tournament. That's how heavy a favorite Carr is coming.  He hasn't competed in a CKLV in quite some time, but when he last did four seasons ago, he took 3rd.  Against the competition he owns a 10-2 major over Joshua Kim & a 6-1 decision over Matt Olguin. 

Cam Amine

Season after season Cam Amine keeps showing up to compete. Consistently getting better day by day, it's very plausible that he could end up being our CKLV finalist. Wouldn't necessarily call it a given though. He's got a ton of competition to go through if he hopes to get a shot at David Carr.  Against who he'll possibly see here, he's defeated both last year's champ as well as last year's runner up, both by fall. He stuck champ Julian Ramirez in 2:47 & he stuck runner-up Tanner Cook in 6:30.  He also owns victories over Joshua Ogunsanya, Maxx Mayfield, & Matt Olguin. He was 5th here two seasons ago. 

Izzak Olejnik
Oklahoma State 

Izzak Olejnik made it extremely clear with his dominating victory over D.J. Hamiti of Wisconsin at the NWCA All Star Classic that he's looking for more than just another lower end of the podium All American finish this season. He wants to be on the upper half & perhaps he'll show us he could even challenge for the NCAA title.  He first needs to challenge for the CKLV title before he does that though.  Against the competition he's 3-0 overall against last year's CKLV runner-up Tanner Cook (8-1, 3-1 & 8-3 decisions).  He also owns a 5-4 decision over Maxx Mayfield. 

Julian Ramirez

I think on the right day, under the right circumstances this guy could beat anyone.  Yes, I mean anyone.  This includes David Carr.  Talent and ability wise, Julian Ramirez gets a 10/10.  But...what you can do & what you will do don't always see eye to eye.  He won last year's CKLV (4th two seasons ago) & he owns wins over Cam Amine (9-6) & Matt Olguin (6-2).  Hell, he tech'd Cook 17-1 in the finals last season.  Yet on the same hand, he can be oddly susceptible to loss at times.  After defeating Joshua Ogunsanya twice by convincing scores of 8-2 & 13-5, he lost to him at the EIWA's 6-4.  Then he turned around & dominated him 14-3 at the NCAA's.  So much of wrestling is mental & when focused and prepared Ramirez is tough to beat.  When being the operative word. 

Matt Olguin
Oregon State

For years about 20 years ago I was notoriously infamous for coming out with yearly, "Best yet to AA" list & while I no longer do those lists, I can tell you that if I did, Matt Olguin would be somewhere near the top. I do think he's one of the best in the nation yet to capture an AA honor. He was 3rd here last season & I expect another high CKLV finish out of him this year.  My only concern is that he does keep some of his matches painfully close, but at the end of the day, a W is a W. 

Antrell Taylor

He's young, he's hungry & he's still relatively new.  That could bode very well for the freshman Husker. Many times we see the youth of collegiate wrestling come into such situations with nothing to lose attitudes, willing to take risks & try things while being extremely aggressive.  In a field of wrestlers who often compete rather conservatively, this could work to Taylor's advantage. Nebraska is looking for its fourth team title in a row, I'm sure Taylor is well aware.  10-3 decisions over both Giano Petrucelli & Garrett Thompson, he also owns a 10-7 decision over Andrew Cerniglia. 

Joshua Ogunsanya

Joshua Ogunsanya enters his final CKLV championship looking for his third medal. 5th last season, he was 7th two seasons ago.  Testimony to think this could be his best CKLV yet, he owns that 6-4 decision I mentioned earlier over Julian Ramirez.  He also owns a 5-2 decision over Matt Olguin & he tech'd last year's runner-up Tanner Cook 20-3. 

Maxx Mayfield

Maxx Mayfield continues to climb up the ladder of rankings & what a boost it'd be to his career to make top 8 here in Vegas. Easier said than done, but out of those going to war, he'll be among them.  Thus far owns both an 8-2 as well as a 10-3 decision over Stoney Buell. 

Bryce Hepner
Ohio State

I don't know if it'd really shock anyone or not, but based on rankings along, it would be classified as an upset if Bryce Hepner were to come in here & have a great tournament.  A 6-4 victory over Cam Amine suggest that it's a possibility.  For the record, Hepner also owns a 7-0 decision over Garrett Thompson. 

Garrett Thompson

I know Joel Greenlee often feels that his wrestlers get overlooked & that may very well be the case.  What I do know is that no one is gonna overlook a top 8 finish here in Vegas & Garrett Thompson is among the candidates looking for one.  He has yet to really do anything at 165 lbs & Vegas is a wonderful place to start. 

Connor Brady
Virginia Tech 

I feel that Virginia Tech as a whole comes into CKLV with a chip on their shoulder. I don't think they took kindly to the dual loss to Ohio State & I know they didn't like here some of the wrestling media (I was not one of them) refer to them as overrated. This kind of aggression can serve one well & there's reason to think that Connor Brady could capture at CKLV medal.  A 3-2 victory over Hepner speaks for itself, as he's kept it close with both Julian Ramirez & Joshua Ogunsanya in the past. 

Brevin Cassella

If Billy Baldwin is to Twitter Tweet about Binghamton having a good performance at CKLV, it could very well end up being Brevin Cassella that he references. Cassella has had some very close matches with the competition.  He took last year's champ Julian Ramirez into overtime & he kept Joshua Ogunsanya to a 1 point decision.  He also took Matt Olguin to a two point decision.  Turning these kinda close losses into wins could make a huge difference. 

Joshua Kim

Speaking of turning close losses into wins...  There are times when I find myself tensing up & screaming at my computer screen or television when watching Joshua Kim wrestle.  I'm glad that he is finally getting some recognition & being seen as a top 25 wrestler, but I think he could be so much better than that. A little adjustment here, a little adjustment there, I think he could be a top 12, maybe even better. If you read JT#1 often, you know I wanna see Harvard where it was 15-20 years ago.  Back when it was producing the Jesse Jantzens & the J.P. O'Connors. It's gotta start somewhere & Joshua Kim has the tools to start the engine. 

Against Joshua Ogunsanya he's lost 3-1, 3-1 s.v. & 5-4 decisions. He took last year's CKLV champ Julian Ramirez to 5-2 & 3-1 decisions.  It's like Son of a gun dude, let's turn some of these nosehair, nail biting losses into wins! 

Andrew Cerniglia

A two time NCAA qualifier, last season was a down year for Andrew Cerniglia.  With the coaching of Cary Kolat behind him, it's a safe assumption to think that mentally as well as physically, Cerniglia is back to where he needs to be. That has really yet to be tested though & CKLV provides what might as well be the ACT or SAT depending on where you live in the country. 

Giano Petrucelli
Air Force 

Go back and look through the history of CKLV as well as other first semester tournaments in the history of NCAA Division I wrestling. For quite some time now, Air Force has a history of having a wrestler or two pull off a huge upset in such a tournament.  Giano Petrucelli had a very nice R1 win last year over Wyoming's Cole Moody (who has since graduated).  Perhaps he'll have another this tournament. 

Tanner Cook
South Dakota State

Tanner Cook was one of the biggest surprises of last year's CKLV, coming out of nowhere to make the finals. Based on the competition of this bracket, it'd be an even bigger shock if he were to once again make the finals this season.  Matter of fact, just to be top 8, he's gonna have to knock off at least a handful of wrestlers who are currently ranked above him.  A wrestler who is known to put opponents to their backs out of nowhere, I wouldn't count him out  & I'd always be leery of what he's capable of. 

U.R. Or #29
Charlie Darracott Or Hunter Garvin

Hunter Garvin may have the ranking as the status of "Varsity starter", but I'm not convinced it'll be him starting until I see the finalized brackets.  Darracott was R12 here two seasons ago & he also owns an 11-6 decision over Garrett Thompson.  I think either one of these guys could do some damage in Vegas. 

Stoney Buell

He has yet to face any of the competition here at CKLV, but this is great grounds for making a name for yourself. 

Jack Thomsen
Northern Iowa

A transfer from South Dakota State, I tell you I would really love it if Jack Thomsen ended up meeting Tanner Cook somewhere along the way.  That's a match I'd really like to see. Reminds me of years ago when A.J. Grant was beating out Chris Rodrigues for the starting spot at Michigan. Then Rodrigues transferred to North Carolina & pinned Grant at the NCAA championships.  Would such a result occur? Maybe/maybe not.  It does make for an interesting situation though.  Among Thomsen's notable wins a 6-5 decision over Giano Petrucelli. 

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