Pokes Off to Vegas for Cliff Keen Invite


LARAMIE– The Wyoming wrestling team will make its way to Las Vegas this weekend to face one of the nation’s toughest fields outside of the NCAA Championships.

UW, 31 other teams, and over 300 wrestlers will meet beginning Friday for the 2017 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. In all, 11 of the nation’s top-25 teams will scrap during the two-day tournament.

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How to Follow- Notes, Video, Live Results

Live video of the tournament can be viewed with a subscription to FloWrestling. Live results will be available as well, and can be found using the link above.

Cliff Keen under Branch

This weekend’s tournament will mark the fourth trip to Vegas with head coach Mark Branch in charge. Wyoming finished eighth as a team last year at the Cliff Keen Invite. Branch led the Cowboys to a ninth-place team finish in 2012 and third place in 2011.

Last year, Bryce Meredith led the team with a second-place individual finish at 141 pounds. Archie Colgan and Branson Ashworth each took third-place at 157 and 165 pounds, respectively, as Cole Mendenhall (149 pounds) placed fourth for the Brown and Gold.

In the Rankings

Wyoming as a team has made a few moves in the last week. The Pokes are currently 17th according to FloWrestling and 18th and 19th in the Trackwrestling and Intermat rankings, respectively. Wyoming’s big three are still holding strong in the individual rankings.

Meredith is ranked as high as third by FloWrestling, Intermat, The Open Mat and Trackwrestling, while Ashworth is 12th at 165 pounds and Colgan sitting 17th at 157 pounds in the FloWrestling rankings.

Redshirt freshman Montorie Bridges jumped into the top-25 of Trackwrestling’s individual rankings this week at No. 23.

Marquee Matchups in Vegas

The 2017 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational will feature a bounty of ranked wrestlers, with over 100 in total. At 141 pounds, 12 of FloWrestling’s top-20 will compete in Vegas.

Furthermore, 13 of the top-20 at 157 pounds and 12 of the top-20 at 165 pounds are set to wrestle in Vegas.

Branch’s Thoughts

“The competition gets pretty stiff coming up in the next couple of weeks,” Cowboy head coach Mark Branch said. “I’ve thought so far this season it’s been a good learning experience, we’ll no doubt have to put everything to test this weekend.

“Looking at the field, from an individual standpoint, this Invite will be one of the toughest it’s been in recent memory. Just this year, I think it could be one of the toughest tournaments outside NCAAs, which is exciting.

“Our goal is to make it to Saturday, but we know to take it one day a time. Last year, we had some guys that made a splash at this event. We want to see that again this year for a few of our young guys.”

“I’m excited for a few of our young guys that will be able to wrestle this weekend. Trent (Olsen) and Montorie (Bridges) have wrestled and competed really well so far this season. It will be great to see them against that next level of competition.

“Every weight class has ranked wrestlers, so just placing in the top eight means you’re going up against top competition. Our guys have earned their way into the lineup so now we want to see them go out and make some noise.”

2017 Cliff Keen Invite Schedule

Friday, Dec. 1

  • 10 a.m. – 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)
  • 6 p.m. – Round 6 Championship Quarterfinals & Consolation Round 1st of (8)

Saturday, Dec. 2

  • 10 a.m. – Round 7 Consolation 2nd of (8)
  • 11 a.m. – Round 8 Championship Semifinals, Round 9 Consolation Semifinals, Consolation Finals 5th & 6th, 7th & 8th Places
  • 4 p.m. – Championship Finals, 1st & 2nd, 3rd & 4th Places

Most Recent – UNK Open

The Cowboy wrestling team took part in the UNK Holiday Inn Open on Nov. 18. Six Pokes earned titles for Wyoming between the elite and amateur divisions, while a total of 17 placed.

Ronnie Stevens (133 pounds), Archie Colgan (157 pounds), Branson Ashworth (165 pounds), Chaz Polson (184 pounds) and Cale Davidson (197 pounds) brought home titles in the elite bracket, as freshman Hayden Hastings earned his championship competing at 165 pounds in the amateur division.

On the Docket

After the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Wyoming will make its way to Ames, Iowa, for a Saturday evening dual with Iowa State. The matchup will take place in Stephens Auditorium on the campus of Iowa State.

A year ago, in UW’s first dual of the season, the Cowboys defeated then-No. 24 Iowa State, 19-15, inside the UniWyo Sports Complex.