Best In-Season Tournament?

Diving right into the Las Vegas Invitational, there is so much to discuss they decided to split the discussions into two separate podcasts. In part one, they will discuss the finalists and the path to their respective championship match. Including the 125, 133, 141 and 149 lbs. weight classes. Every year there is heavy debate over which in-season collegiate tournament is the best. The LVI seems to have handily settled that debate this year. With over 100 of the top 200 ranked wrestlers in the country competing at one event it is hard to argue against. Despite the high number of ranked athletes at the tournament, 4 of the top 5 ranked teams in the country didn’t compete at the Las Vegas Invitational.

125 lbs Final

Ben and Matt kick off with discussions about Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern University and Ronnie Bresser of Oregon State, the finalists at 125 lbs. Rivera defeated Bresser by a 6-4 decision in overtime. Although Bresser had great attacks during the match, he wasn’t attacking enough and had trouble finishing. Rivera was able to push the pace the entire match and came out with a solid win in the finals. Throughout the tournament Bresser seemed to have what Ben refers to as “lapses in wrestling”. He seemed to shut down or hesitate in tight situations. This eventually cost him the finals match against Rivera when Rivera scored from a scramble with an unlikely Peterson. Rivera and Bresser are ranked 2nd and 3rd in the country. This tentatively secures their ranking and they will not see each other again until the NCAA tournament.

133 lbs Final

Moving on to the 133 lbs. weight class, Nick Suriano of Rutgers defeated Micky Phillippi from The University of Pittsburgh by an 11-3 major decision in the finals. Nick Suriano and Stevan Micic was the expected finals match for the 133 lbs. weight class. However, for unknown reasons Micic did not wrestle. In an unexpected, but very impressive run, Micky Phillippi makes it to the finals. While Suriano was dominant in the finals match, that doesn’t take away from Philippi’s very impressive tournament. Micky had an exciting semifinal match defeating last year’s LVI champion, Luke Pletcher of Ohio State. Similarly, Suriano also had an impressive tournament. His ability to drive through takedowns and efficiently transition to a turn for near fall is practically unmatched. Suriano did have trouble with John Ernese of Missouri in his semifinal match winning a close 3-2 match with an escape in the 3rd period.

141 lbs Final

Turning to the 141 lbs. weight class, Joseph McKenna of Ohio State defeated Jaydin Eierman of Missouri by a 6-2 decision in the finals. We have seen these two square off in the past. Askren expresses his frustration in Eierman’s repeated lack of discipline – especially against one of the most disciplined collegiate wrestlers in the sport. From the beginning McKenna shut down Eierman and removed the possibility of Eierman introducing any type of scramble situation into his defense. McKenna’s precision in his technique and attacks, paired with an impenetrable defense allowed him to easily control the match. Ben and Matt next discuss how Eierman could approach the match differently the next time he wrestles McKenna. Eierman scores many of his points off of other people’s pressure and shots. When Eierman allows Mckenna to initiate action he also allows him to control the match. Mckenna is often through his takedown and finish before Eierman is able to react. In the future Eierman needs to push the pace himself but remain in good position without making any mistakes for McKenna to capitalize on.

149 lbs Final

Finally, Ben and Matt move on to the 149 lbs. bracket and what is probably the feature match of the tournament. Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers defeated Micah Jordan from Ohio State by a 14-10 decision. Ashnault takes a 10-0 lead in the first two minutes of the match. This came from an early takedown and two tilts for 4 points each. This left Jordan two periods to claw his way back and with a scoreless second period it looked unlikely. In the third period Jordan seemed to have a little more fire. Scoring four takedowns and being awarded a stalling point wasn’t enough and Ashnault finishes with the win. Both Ashnault and Jordan have areas for improvement walking away from this match. Ashnault needs to work on his conditioning as he fell off in the last period. Conditioning is an easy fix, but Jordan had problems defending a tilt, a much bigger problem. Jordan still had an impressive tournament, wrestling 3 of the top 8 ranked individuals and defeating two in one tournament.

Tune into Part 2 for the remaining weight classes.


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The RUDIS Wrestling Podcast is hosted Ben Askren and Matt Dernlan. Ben Askren, World Champion and Olympic wrestler, joins RUDIS from the T-Row & Funky Show in an official partnership as a content provider for all things RUDIS. Matt Dernlan joins from a D1 college coaching background with family roots grounded in Ohio wrestling with a collective 10 state titles on the shelf.