Northwestern followed up an encouraging win at Virginia with a 10th-place finish at the 40th annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. The 33-team field was loaded with 10 other NWCA top-25 teams, providing the Wildcats with a nice early-season benchmark.
NU totaled 81.5 points with five different wrestlers finishing in scoring positions. This performance placed Northwestern above No. 9 Virginia Tech and No. 24 Cal Poly.
All-American heavyweight Lucas Davison led the way with a second-place finish in his division. He beat No. 23 Tyrell Gordon of Northern Iowa and No. 14 AJ Nevills of South Dakota State en route to the championship match, earning bonus points along the way. His run came to an end at the hands of Michigan’s Mason Parris (No. 3 in the nation) with a 6-4 defeat. The highlight of his weekend was a 95-second pin on Long Island’s Aeden Begue, and the entire performance bumped him up to fifth in the national heavyweight rankings.
Yahya Thomas racked up some ranked wins as well to finish third in the 149-pound weight class. He took down No. 12 Colin Realbuto (Northern Iowa), No. 18 Jackson Arrington (NC State) and No. 3 Jonathan Millner (Appalachian State) before falling to eventual winner No. 5 Sammy Sasso of Ohio State. Thomas came out of the weekend seventh in the InterMat rankings.
Two more Wildcats finished fifth in their respective weight classes. Trevor Chumbley worked his way through the 157-pound weight class, winning five bouts in the process. His only losses came by three total points, which contributed to his two-spot increase in the rankings up to No. 14. Also, Troy Fisher continued his strong start to the season at 174 pounds, garnering to a No. 21 ranking.
Last but not least, two-time All-American Chris Cannon eked out an eighth-place finish after falling in the 133-pound quarterfinals. This finish dropped him 11 spots in the rankings, down to 18th.
Despite the strong performance, the weekend was not all sunshine and daisies. Third-ranked Michael DeAugustino suffered an injury that forced him to sacrifice his No. 1 tournament pre-seed and bow out of the 125-pound competition. This will be a situation to monitor as Northwestern tries to make it back to the NCAA Championships.
The Wildcats hit the mats again once more before the New Year. They will be competing in the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Dec. 29-30 in nearby Hoffman Estates, Ill. Northwestern will face top opponents in the end-of-year battle, which will serve as a nice warmup to Big Ten play. From there, conference scheduling begins with a home matchup against Minnesota on Jan. 7.