West Virginia Wrestling

Mountaineers Return to Cliff Keen

LINK: http://wvusports.co/2gd53Km

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Dec. 1, 2016) – For the third straight season, the West Virginia University wrestling team travels to Las Vegas for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, held Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Mountaineers have placed five wrestlers on the podium in the Sammie Henson era, including a pair of top-five finishes by homegrown wrestlers last season. Jacob A. Smith finished ninth at 197 in 2014 before claiming fourth at last year’s event. Dylan Cottrell took third at 157 pounds in 2015.

“We look forward to competing in the Cliff Keen Invitational this weekend in Las Vegas. As always, it looks to be a competitive field,” said WVU coach Sammie Henson. “Our goal will be to battle each match and continue to build off of the previous matches. We will have some changes, and this should provide us with a solid gauge on where we are as individuals and a team. We’re up for the challenge.”

The tournament starts at noon ET on Friday with Round 1 Pig Tail Championship, Round 2 of 32 Championship, Round 3 Consolation of 32, Round 4 Championship of 16, Consolation 1st of 16, Round 5 Consolation 2nd of 16. The first day will resume at 9 p.m. ET with the Round 6 Championship Quarter Finals & Consolation Round 1st of 8. Saturday's action also begins at noon ET with Round 7 Consolation of 8, followed by Round 8 Championship Semi-Finals, Round 9 Consolation Semi Finals, Consolation Finals fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth places. The Championship Finals for first, second, third and fourth place will begin at 6 p.m. ET.

Live results and video for the event will be featured on FloWrestling.org.

A total of 35 teams will compete at this year's Cliff Keen event. Nine top-25 teams will be in attendance, including: No. 4 Ohio State, No. 6 Virginia Tech, No. 8 Cornell, No. 10 Michigan, No. 14 Central Michigan, No. 15 Stanford, No. 17 Wisconsin, No. 18 Minnesota, No. 19 Arizona State. The Mountaineers will also see Big 12 foes Air Force, Iowa State, Northern Colorado, Utah Valley and Wyoming.

Smith was rated as the No. 3 seed at 197 pounds when Cliff Keen pre-seeds were announced by FloWrestling on Wednesday. Cottrell was announced as the No. 3 seed at 165 pounds but will not compete at the event.

Though WVU took the previous weekend off from competition, a pair of Mountaineers remain in the national rankings. Smith ranks at No. 6 via InterMat, No. 8 by FloWrestling and No. 10 by The Open Mat. Cottrell is currently ranked at No. 8 by InterMat, No. 7 by The Open Mat and No. 9 via FloWrestling.

After downing a top-10 opponent on Nov. 17, Smith was named the Big 12 Co-Wrestler of the Week for the third week of the season, as announced by the league on Nov. 20. It marks the third time in his career Smith has earned a Big 12 weekly awards. He shared the honor with Jacobe Smith of Oklahoma State. Ranked No. 9/10 at 197 pounds at the time, Smith earned a 2-0 decision over No. 6 Aaron Studebaker in the Mountaineers’ dual at No. 7 Nebraska. The two previously met in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Championships, with Studebaker taking the win.

Christian Monserrat cracked the lineup at 149 this season and hasn't looked back. The Methuen, Massachusetts, native is 6-0 on the year with two pins and a major decision. He is 3-0 in tournaments after winning his pool at the Journeymen ASICS Collegiate Classic in November. Monserrat is also 3-0 in duals, most recently defeating Nebraska's Jordan Shearer.

WVU Probable Entries:
125: Devin Brown
133: Cory Stainbrook
141: Joe Wheeling
149: Christian Monserrat
157: Dayton Garrett
165: Ryan Lopez
174: Ty Millward
184: Parker VonEgidy
197: Jacob A. Smith
HWT: Brandon Ngati

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