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Mountaineers send 9 wrestlers to Las Vegas for Cliff Keen Invitational

174lb+redshirt+sophomore+Luke+Uliano+gains+control+over+NC+State%E2%80%99s+Alex+Faison+in+their+match+Nov.+4.+Uliano+earned+SoCon+Wrestler+of+the+Week+honors+for+all+competition+from+Jan.+24-30.
Sam Fleming
174lb redshirt sophomore Luke Uliano gains control over NC State’s Alex Faison in their match Nov. 4. Uliano earned SoCon Wrestler of the Week honors for all competition from Jan. 24-30.

App State wrestling found themselves in Las Vegas this weekend, sending nine wrestlers to the Cliff Keen Invitational. The invitational is considered to be the most competitive non-NCAA Championships event during the 2023-24 wrestling season.

133-pound No. 19 redshirt sophomore Ethan Oakley and 165-pound junior No. 20 Will Miller both picked up ranked wins. Oakley and Miller were the only wrestlers to advance past the round of 16, as the two pulled upsets over ranked and power-conference opponents en route to finishing eighth and nine-12th respectively. 

Miller won his opening match by fall, before losing to Iowa State’s David Carr, the No. 2 ranked wrestler in his weight class by a technical fall and went to the consolation bracket. Miller won his next two consolation matches, including a 5-1 win over Virginia Tech’s Connor Brady prior to dropping a 2-1 decision against No. 21 Brevin Cassella from Binghamton to finish outside the top eight.

Oakley opened up his tournament with an 8-2 decision before he faced in-conference opponent No. 9 Domenic Zaccone from Campbell. Oakley lost to Zaccone 9-6. He won all three of his first consolation matches with a combined score of 29-12 before dropping by fall to No. 15 Nic Bouzakis of Ohio State. Oakley finished his tournament in a loss to Northern Iowa’s Julian Farber in a 10-9 loss.

Outside of Miller and Oakley, little was accomplished by the seven other attendees wearing the Black and Gold. 125-pound redshirt freshman Noah Luna picked up a surprising 14-2 major decision against Virginia Tech’s No. 23 Eddie Ventresca, but failed to capitalize on the momentum and lost in the next round of the 125-pound bracket. 

157-pound junior No. 16 Tommy Askey and 174-pound Luke Uliano both won two matches, but ran into ranked opponents, stopping their runs. Askey performed well against lower-ranked opponents, but couldn’t overcome Michigan’s No. 6 Will Lewan and NC State’s No. 8 Ed Scott, a wrestler he lost to earlier in the year. Uliano won his two matches by a combined score of 28-6, but lost his other two matches by a total of 13-1.

The rest of the Mountaineers sent to Las Vegas all won just one match as 197-pound sophomore No. 27 Carson Floyd, heavyweight senior Jacob Sartorio and 141-pound redshirt junior Ike Byers finished in the consolation round of 16. All three wrestlers looked good in their lone wins with Floyd winning by fall, Sartorio securing an 8-1 decision over Purdue’s Tristan Ruhlman and Byers notching a 15-6 major decision. 

App State returns to the Varsity Gym Dec. 17 as they take on No. 25 North Carolina, a team they beat in Chapel Hill last season. Matches will start at 3 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Trey Blake
Trey Blake, Reporter
Trey Blake (he/him) is a sophomore digital journalism major, media studies minor, from Clayton, NC. This is his second year writing for The Appalachian.
Sam Fleming
Sam Fleming, Photographer
Sam Fleming (he/him) is a freshman Computer Science Major, from Greensboro, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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