Dec. 7, 2013
Brackets | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The 13th-ranked Virginia wrestling team stands sixth after the first day of action Friday at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Cavaliers racked up 55.5 points Friday and are tied with Ohio State for sixth place.
The tournament concludes Saturday, with action beginning at noon ET. The championship round begins at 6 p.m. ET. The loaded field features wrestlers from 12 of the top 25 teams in the latest USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches Poll.
Six Cavaliers remain alive after the first day of competition, with four reaching the semifinal round: Blaise Butler (R-So., Belvidere, Ill.) at 157 pounds, Nick Sulzer (R-Jr., Cleveland, Ohio) at 165, Stephen Doty (R-Sr., St. Louis, Mo.) at 174 and Ethan Hayes (R-So., New Lebanon, Ohio) at heavyweight. Joe Spisak (R-Jr., Boiling Springs, Pa.) and Zach Nye (R-So., Enola, Pa.) will begin Saturday in the wrestleback rounds at 141 and 197, respectively.
"I am just flat out blown away by the way our guys wrestled that last round," Virginia head coach Steve Garland said. "Our big highlights were Blaise Butler beating a two-time All-American (Roger Pena of Oregon State) and Ethan Hayes breaking through. He is the definition of perseverance."
Hayes was the story of the day for Virginia, scoring three victories, with the last two each coming over seeded wrestlers. He started his day with a pin of San Francisco State's Hildelv Manzur, then knocked off third-seeded and 14th-ranked Ty Walz of Virginia Tech, 4-3. He advanced to the semifinals with a 3-2 win over Ohio State's Nick Tavanello. Hayes will wrestle fourth-ranked J.T. Felix of Boise State Saturday in the semifinals.
Seeded seventh in the field, Butler continued his strong start to the 2013-14 season with a trio of wins. He earned a 9-0 major decision over Tavis Ino of San Francisco State. He followed it up with a 7-3 decision over 10th-seeded Robert Burg of Navy and then knocked off the second-seeded and fifth-ranked Pena, 10-4. Butler will wrestle Cornell's Brian Realbuto in the semifinals.
Sulzer is the No. 2 seed and ranked third nationally at 165 pounds. He improved to 11-0 on the year with a 5-2 win over Ohio State's Joe Grandominico and a 15-3 major decision over Nebraska's Austin Wilson. He faces third-seeded and ninth-ranked Daniel Yates of Michigan in the semifinals.
Seeded third at 174, Doty cruised into the semis with wins over Cornell's Jesse Shanaman (16-0), American's Keithen Cast (fall, 2:24) and Virginia Tech's Austin Gabel (4-0). Doty will wrestle second-seeded Robert Kokesh of Nebraska in the semifinals; Kokesh is ranked fourth nationally, while Doty is 19th.
Seeded seventh, Spisak dropped into the consolation bracket but gave second-seeded and third-ranked Devin Carter of Virginia Tech a battle in the quarterfinals before falling 14-11. He earned a pair of tech falls earlier in the day. Spisak will wrestle third-seeded and 10th-ranked Joey Lazor of Northern Iowa in the consolation bracket on Saturday.
Nye won three matches Friday, with two coming in the wrestlebacks, and will keep wrestling Saturday. He faces Virginia Tech's Chris Penny next.
UVa's Nick Herrmann (So., Amarillo, Texas), Joseph Martinez (R-So., Platteville, Colo.) and James Suvak (R-Fr., Parma Heights, Ohio) were eliminated Friday at 125, 133 and 184, respectively.
Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational - Top 10 Teams
1. Oklahoma, 84.5
2. Nebraska, 75.0
3. Michigan, 72.5
4. Cornell, 68.5
5. Northern Iowa, 61.5
6. Virginia, 55.5
6. Ohio State, 55.5
8. Wyoming, 45.0
9. Virginia Tech, 37.5
10. Boise State, 33.5
Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (all times PT)
Saturday (Dec. 7)
9 a.m.: Consolation Round 4
10 a.m.: Semi-Finals and Consolation Round 5, Consolation Semi Finals, Consolation Finals (5th & 6th, 7th & 8th)
3 p.m.: Championship Finals (1st & 2nd and 3rd & 4th)