Wyoming’s Joe LeBlanc becomes surprise semifinalist; three top seeds fall through quarterfinals of Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational
By Mike Finn, WIN Editor
LAS VEGAS ” Wyoming’s Joe LeBlanc gained nearly 20 pounds so that he could wrestle with bigger wrestlers during his redshirt freshman season this winter. The native of Meeker, Colo., proved he could wrestle with the big boys in college wrestling as the Cowboy won four matches Friday to put himself in the semifinals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
LeBlanc didn’t take time to make people notice him when he edged Nebraska’s Vince Jones, the No. 3 seed, by a 9-7 margin in sudden victory.
“Anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” said LeBlanc, who won three Colorado state championships before redshirting for the Cowboys last winter. “Seedings and all that don’t mean a lot in the sport.”
The Wyoming wrestler went on to beat three more opponents ” Jake Meredith of Arizona State, 4-2, UC Davis’ Jon Clark by a 14-2 major decision, and Pitt’s Zac Thomusseit, 6-5, to advance to the Saturday morning semifinals against Boise State’s Kirk Smith.
The semifinals will begin Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (PST) with the finals starting at 5 p.m. in the Las Vegas Convention Center.
In the team race, Nebraska lead the field with 74 points, which includes four semifinalists: Jordan Burroughs at 157 pounds, Stephen Dwyer at 165 pounds, Brandon Browne at 174 pounds and Craig Brester at 197 pounds.
The Huskers lead a group of seven schools that are separated by less than ten points.
Minnesota, which sends two wrestlers ” 125-pound Zach Sanders and 133-pound Jayson Ness to the semifinals ” is currently in second place with 59.5 pounds, followed by Boise State with three semifinalists ” Andrew Hochstrasser at 133 pounds, Adam Hall at 157 and Smith ” with 56 points.
Pittsburgh with two semifinalists ” Tyler Nauman at 141 pounds and heavyweight Zach Sheaffer ” is in fourth place with 54 points, followed by Indiana at 53.5, Michigan at 52, Purdue at 50.5 and Ohio State at 50.
The Buckeyes have three semifinalists ” Lance Palmer at 149, Colt Sponseller at 165 and heavyweight Corey Morrison ” but will be without their defending national champion, J Jaggers. The 141-pound senior lost to Harvard sophomore Corey Jantzen, who scored a reversal with 55 seconds left and rode out the top-seeded Buckeye for a 4-3 victory.
Meanwhile Michigan’s Tyrel Todd, the No. 1 seed at 197 pounds, was forced to take a medical forfeit in the semis after pinning Ryan Sutherland of Columbia in the second round.
Another top-seeded wrestler also failed to reach the semifinals when Cal-State Bakersfield’s Mitch Monteiro, the No. 8 seeded, defeated No. 1-seed Kyle Massey, 6-2.
That puts Monteiro into the semifinals against Columbia’s Ryan Flores, who pinned all three of his opponents, including No. 5 seed Dustin Rogers of West Virginia. The fall came with one second left in the match agains the Mountaineers.
“We work a lot on conditioning at Columbia and it worked for me today,” said Flores, a sophomore, who weighs just 230 pounds.
Michigan’s Steve Luke, seeded No. 1 at 174 pounds, also pinned three straight opponents, including Shane Bennett of Dickinson State in 22 seconds.
Among the other top-seeded wrestlers:
“¢ Penn’s Rollie Peterkin advanced to the semis at 125 pounds with a 9-4 victory over Utah Valley’s Ben Kjar. The Quaker will face Virginia Tech’s Jarrod Garrett, who pinned two foes before beat Ohio State’s Nikko Triggas, 12-4.
“¢ Illinois’ Jimmy Kennedy won three matches at 133 pounds and will face Bucknell’s David Marble in the semifinal.
“¢ Darrion Caldwell of NC State pinned his first foe in 28 seconds before gaining two more victories, including a 7-2 win over Lehigh’s Trevor Chinn in the quarters and will face Penn’s Cesar Grajales, a 4-3 victor over Virginia Tech’s Peter Yates.
“¢ Cornell’s Jordan Leen shutout two foes and out scored his three opponents, 21-1, to reach the semis at 157 pounds where he will face Boise State’s Adam Hall in the semis.
“¢ Leen’s teammate, Mack Lewnes, lived up to his No. 1 billing by winning three matches, including a 8-2 victory over Wiscsonin’s Andrew Howe in the quarters, and will meet Andy Rendos of Bucknell in the semis.
“¢ Harvard’s Louis Caputo edged Illinois’ Jordan Blanton, 5-3, at 184 pounds and will meet Purdue’s A.J. Kissel in the semis. Kissel recorded two pins on the day before beating Cornell’s Justin Kerber in the quarters.
Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational
Highlights after first two rounds:
All eight seeds held up after first two rounds
Michael Martinez (Wyoming) upset #13 Derek Reber in 1st round, but lost to Va Tech’s Jarrod Garrett in the second round.
Nearly all eight seeds held. Only exception was in the second round when #9 Cory VomBaur (Boise State) defeated #8 Matt Ortega (Indiana), in a 5-4 tiebreaker.
Only four top-eight seeds reached the quarterfinals: #5 Andrae Hernandez (Indiana) lost to #12 Seth Ciasulli (Lehigh), 4-3, in the second round; #6 Filip Novachkov (Cal Poly) lost to #11 Tyler Nauman (Pitt), 14-4 in the second round; #7 Mike Thorn (Minnesota) lost #10 Ryan Prater (Illinois), 11-0 in the second round; #8 Chris Bencivenga (UNC-Greensboro) lost to #9 Corey Jantzen (Harvard) by fall.
Virginia Tech’s unseeded Peter Yates, a true freshman from xxx, Ga., reached the quarterfinals when he upset No. 4 seed Jake Patacsil of Purdue, 9-4, in the second round.
The remaining top 8 seeds all reached the semis.
Also making a name for himself was unseeded Chase Smith (Wyoming), who pinned #9 David Jauregui (West Virginia) in 27 seconds.
The eight seeds all reached the semifinals.
The only surprise came when Trevor Hall (Cal State Bakersfield) knocked off #13 Kody Hamrah (NC State), 15-7, in a first round match, but then lost to Boise State’s Adam Hall, 12-2.
All but two top 8 seeds reached the quarters. Only #7 Chris Bullins (UNC-Greensboro) lost to #10 Tyler Sherfey (Boise State) in the second round and #8 Mike Galante (Lehigh) lost to #9 Andrew Howe (Wisconsin) in a 2-1 tiebreaker.
Ohio State’s David Rella, seeded No. 4, not only lost in the first round to Celic Bell of North Idaho, but may be out of the Buckeye lineup for a while after suffering a shoulder injury, which forced him to injury default against Bell. Rella suffered the injury when Bell defended a single by the Buckeye and threw him in an awkward position to the mat. Bell advanced to the second round and was leading Air Force’s Tyler French, 8-1, before French came back to win 11-10.
Among other seeded wrestlers to lose were No. 6 Shane Riccio (Bucknell) who lost to #11 Travis Rutt (Wisconsin), 5-3, in the second round; and No. 7 Kurt Swartz (Boise State), who lost to No.10 Tyler Bernacchi (Cal Davis), 3-1.
Wyoming’s unseeded freshman Joe LeBlanc reached the quarterfinals with three victories. That included a 7-6 preliminary victory over No. 3 Vince Jones (Nebraska). LeBlanc followed that with a 4-2 win over Jake Meredith (Arizona State) and a 14-2 major decision over Jon Clark (UC Davis).
Another interesting second-round bout matched up a pair of former high school teammates from St. Paris (Ohio) Graham. Zac Thomusseit, now representing Pitt, won by a 3-1 margin over David Thompson, now with Bucknell. Thompson, who was unseeded, reached the second round with a 7-5 victory over Lehigh’s No. 6-seed David Craig.
D.J. Bruce, an unseeded sophomore from Virginia Tech, reached the quarters by winning his first two matches; both going to the tiebreaker. The first overtime victory 6-5 over No. 6 Cody Gardner of Ohio State. Gardner, who originally signed with Tech before transferring to Ohio State, was penalized for locking his hands in the second tiebreaker. Bruce then defeated Donovan McMahill of Western State, 7-5, in a tiebreaker.
Rudi Burtschi of North Idaho Junior College, reached the quarters when he defeated No. 6 seed Patrick Bond of Illinois, 5-3.
All top eight seeded reached the quarters.