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Eight Chippewas Still Alive at Cliff Keen Invitational

By Cullen Maksimowski,, 12/03/16, 8:15AM EST


Oliver, Heffernan, Ellingwood go unbeaten on opening day


LAS VEGAS — Three Central Michigan wrestlers are still in the hunt for tournament titles and eight remain alive after day one of the Cliff Keen Invitational at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

CMU’s Justin Oliver (149 pounds), Colin Heffernan (157), and Jordan Ellingwood (184) each went 3-0 on Friday and punched their respective tickets to Saturday’s semifinal round, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET.

The Chippewas’ Corey Keener (133), Mason Smith (141), C.J Brucki (174), Austin Severn (197) and Newton Smerchek (HWT) each finished 2-1 on Friday and will wrestle in the consolation round of eight starting at noon.

The Chippewas, who are ranked No. 14 in the USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association poll, amassed 57 points on Friday and are tied for fifth place with No. 19 Arizona State.

Thirty-four teams, seven of which are ranked, comprise the tournament field.

No. 4 Ohio State leads with 73, No. 6 Virginia Tech is second with 71, No. 18 Minnesota is third with 61.5, and No. 8 Cornell is fourth with 59.5.

Oliver, a sophomore who is ranked No. 7 nationally by InterMat, improved to 12-1 on the season with his performance on Friday.

Oliver will square off with No. 6 Micah Jordan of Ohio State in the semifinals on Saturday. Jordan handed Oliver his lone loss of the season, 15-7, in the Eastern Michigan Open in November. Jordan is seeded second in the tournament, Oliver is third.

Heffernan, a junior who is ranked 10th, maintained his perfect start to the season to run his record to 13-0. Heffernan, who is seeded fourth, will face eighth-seeded Josh Shields of Arizona State in the semifinals. Shields is unranked.

Ellingwood, a junior who is ranked 11th, will take on No. 1 ranked and two-time NCAA Champion Gabe Dean of Cornell in the semifinals. Dean is seeded No. 1 in the tournament, while Ellingwood is fourth.

Ellingwood recorded back-to-back major decision wins in his first two bouts, 14-4 over Jerald Spohn of Kent State, and 18-6 over Kanon Dean of Harvard. He then took a 6-4 win over Dakota Geer of Edinboro.

Heffernan also opened with a pair of major decisions, the first, 14-2, over Jimmy Fate of Northern Colorado; the second, 12-3 over Taylor Simaz of Cornell. He then defeated Colt Shorts of Cal Poly, 5-3.

Oliver opened with a pin in 1 minute, 49 seconds of Benjamin Polkowske of Northern Colorado; then took a 2-0 victory over Jerry McGinty of Air Force; and outlasted Cole Mendenhall of Wyoming, 14-11.

Keener, a senior, posted the Chippewas’ biggest upset of the day when he knocked off fifth-ranked Earl Hall of Iowa State, 4-3, in a second-round match. Hall is a returning All-American. Keener opened with a 17-2 technical fall at 6:17 of Josh Newberg of Boise State. Keener then was pinned by Mitch McKee of Minnesota in 5:44.

Keener will wrestle Corey Stainbrook of West Virginia in Saturday’s consolation round of eight.

Smith, a freshman, dropped a 12-1 major decision to No. 2-ranked and returning NCAA runner-up Bryce Meredith of Wyoming in the quarterfinals.

Smith pinned Tyler Sage of Arizona State in 57 seconds in his opening bout, then scored a 6-2 win over Will Koll of Cornell before falling to Meredith. Smith with wrestle Jack Mutchnik of American in the consolation round of eight on Saturday.

Brucki, a sophomore, lost 5-1 to 10th-ranked and returning All-American Lelund Weatherspoon of Iowa State. Brucki opened the tournament with an 18-3 technical fall victory at 7:00 over Isaac Deaton of Nebraska-Kearney. After losing to Weatherspoon, Brucki rebounded with a 12-8 win over Air Force’s Michael Billingsley.

Brucki will face Jake Morrissey of Purdue in the consolation round of eight on Saturday.

Severn will face Tanner Orndoff of West Virginia, and Smerchek will take on Quean Smith of Iowa State in Saturday’s consolation round of eight.

Severn opened with a 3-1 win over Jackson Striggow of Michigan, then fell, 6-1, to Jacob Smith of West Virginia. Severn closed the day with a 4-3 victory over Rocco Caywood of Army West Point.

Smerchek opened with a pin at 7:51 of Nick Gajdzik of Harvard, then dropped a 19-8 major decision to Ty Walz of Virginia Tech. He came back to beat Kerry Powers of Air Force, 4-0.

CMU junior Brent Fleetwood (125), who entered the tournament ranked No. 20, and freshman Logan Parks (165) both finished 1-2 and were eliminated from the tournament.

Fleetwood opened with a 16-0 technical fall at 3:50 of David Gonzalez of Cal Poly, then dropped a 4-3 decision to Ohio State’s Jose Rodriguez, and then a 7-4 decision to Skylar Petry of Minnesota.

Parks was pinned in 2:48 in his opening bout by Keaton Subjeck of Stanford. He came back to score an 8-6 victory over David Bergida of Virginia Tech before falling to Drew Daniels of Navy, 7-2.