Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
LAS VEGAS – Four Central Michigan wrestlers remain alive and in the hunt for a medal after day one at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
Justin Oliver (149) went 4-0 on Friday at the prestigious tournament to lead the Chippewa contingent. Three other Chippewas – CJ Brucki (174), Mason Smith (141) and Jordan Ellingwood (184) – are in their respective consolation brackets.
The 19th-ranked Chippewas are in seventh place of the 45-team tournament. No. 9 Michigan is first with 90 points, followed by Ohio State, 85; Nebraska, 73.5; Arizona State, 71.5; Northern Iowa, 68; Virginia Tech, 56.5; and the Chippewas, 52.
Ohio State is ranked second, Nebraska is 13th; Arizona State is 12th; Northern Iowa is 16th; and Virginia Tech is 10th. Cornell, which is ranked 14th, is in ninth place with 45 points and 25th-ranked Stanford is 10th with 40.5.
Oliver, a junior who is ranked sixth at 149 by InterMat.com, will face fifth-ranked Colton McCrystal of Nebraska on Saturday morning in a semifinal match. Oliver is seeded third in the tournament, McCrystal is seeded second.
The winner will face either third-ranked Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa or ninth-ranked Troy Heilmann of North Carolina in the title match. Thomsen is the top seed in the weight class; Heilmann is seeded fifth.
Oliver opened with a 16-1 technical fall over Minnesota’s Hunter Marko, then posted two shutouts, the first 6-0 over Sam Krivus of Virginia and the second 8-0 over Corey Wilding of Navy. Oliver then downed Josh Maruca of Arizona State, 9-4. Maruca is ranked 12th and was seeded sixth in the tourney.
-- Brucki, a senior who is ranked 16th at 174, will wrestle Purdue’s Dylan Lydy on Saturday morning in a consolation quarterfinal match. Brucki opened the tournament with a 6-5 win over Chris Pfarr of Minnesota, and then downed Andrew McNally of Eastern Michigan, 6-0. He followed with a 9-8 upset victory over ninth-ranked Brandon Womack of Cornell and then fell, 9-8, to sixth-ranked Myles Amine of Michigan.
-- Ellingwood, a senior who is ranked eighth, is slated to wrestle 17th-ranked Michael Coleman of Navy on Saturday in a consolation quarterfinal. Ellingwood opened the tournament with a 6-4 victory over Dan Pestano of Iowa State, and then topped Brendan McRill of West Virginia, 6-0; and Chip Ness of North Carolina, 6-2. Ellingwood fell on a pin in 4:26 to Taylor Venz of Nebraska.
-- Smith, a sophomore who is ranked 20th at 141, is scheduled to face Eli Stickley of Wisconsin on Saturday in a consolation quarterfinal. Smith opened the tournament with back-to-back technical falls, the first over Cameron Huizar of Embry-Riddle, 24-4; and the second, 15-0, over Brendan Fitzgerald of Ohio State. Smith then dropped a 7-1 decision to 19th-ranked Kanen Storr of Iowa State before rebounding with a pin in 5:23 of Andrew Schulte of California Baptist and then an 18-2 technical fall over Arizona State’s Nikko Villarreal.
CMU’s other six wrestlers bowed out of the tournament on Friday.
-- At 125, CMU redshirt freshman Drew Hildebrandt went 2-2. He opened with a 3-2 victory over Steven Bulzomi of Binghamton, and then dropped a 5-0 decision to 18th-ranked Drew Mattin of Michigan. Hildebrandt rebounded with a 1-0 win over Devin Brown of West Virginia, and then lost on a 15-7 major decision to 15th-ranked Louie Hayes of Virginia.
-- At 133, CMU’s Dresden Simon, also a redshirt freshman, dropped a 16-4 major decision to second-ranked Stevan Micic of Michigan in his opening bout. Simon came back to win three consecutive matches before bowing out of the tournament with a 12-4 major decision loss to Wyoming’s Montorie Bridges. Simon’s victories came on a pin in 4:04 over Devan Turner of Oregon State; an 8-0 major over Trevor Williams of Fresno State; and a 10-4 decision over Rico Montoya of Northern Colorado.
-- At 157, Chippewa senior Colin Heffernan, who is ranked 14th, finished 2-2. He lost 4-2 to Tristan Rifanburg of Binghamton and then forfeited to Coleman Hammond of Cal State Bakersfield. Heffernan opened with a 10-5 victory over Paden Moore of Northern Iowa and then scored an 8-0 major decision victory over Brock Wilson of Harvard.
-- At 165, CMU sophomore Logan Parks went 3-2 on the day. He opened with a pin in 4:30 of Western Wyoming’s Tucker Tomlinson, and then dropped a 6-4 decision to 20th-ranked Lorenzo De La Riva of Cal State Bakersfield. Parks came back to top Isaac Bast of Kent State, 3-2; and Brandon Dallavia of Stanford, 4-0. He lost, 8-2, to Vincent Deprez of Binghamton.
-- At 197, Chippewa junior Jordan Atienza opened the tournament with a 52-second pin of Rico Stormer of Harvard, and then dropped a 9-7 decision to Ben Honis of Cornell. Atienza then topped Nick May of Michigan State, 7-5, before bowing on a 5-4 decision to Eric Schultz of Nebraska.
-- At 285, Chippewa redshirt freshman Matt Stencel finished 3-2. He dropped his opener, 8-3, to 16th-ranked Garrett Ryan of Columbia and was eliminated from the tournament on a pin in 1:39 by Cornell’s Jeramy Sweany. In between his two losses, Stencel defeated Virginia’s Tyler Love on a 12-2 major decision; and won two matches by pin, the first in 46 seconds over Devin Nye of Kent State, and the second at 5:45 over AJ Nevills of Fresno State.