Adam Coon is one of five semifinalists for Michigan in Las Vegas (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
LAS VEGAS -- The No. 9-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team advanced five into the championship semifinal round to headline the first day of competition at the 36th annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Friday (Dec. 1) at the Las Vegas Convention Center. With three additional Wolverines still alive in the consolation bracket, U-M sits atop the team standings with 90 points.
Michigan took advantage of bonus wins to rack up big points, earning 18 total bonus wins through the two sessions, including eight pins. The Wolverines went 5-for-6 in the quarterfinal round; junior/sophomore Stevan Micic, senior/junior Alec Pantaleo, junior/sophomore Myles Amine, fifth-year senior Domenic Abounader and graduate student Adam Coon all pushed through to the semifinal round.
Micic, ranked second nationally at 133 pounds, earned bonus points in each of his first three matches, including an 18-3 technical fall against Kent State's Anthony Tutolo in the third round behind four takedowns and eight back points. His quarterfinal bout -- an 11-7 decision over North Carolina's Zach Sherman -- was his closest of the day. Micic scored on four takedowns in that contest to build up an early lead before Sherman closed the final score with a pair of third-period takedowns. Micic advances to the semifinals for the second straight year; he took second place in his CKLV debut last season.
Pantaleo, ranked 11th at 157 pounds, bookended the day with a pair of big bonus wins, including a quick first-period fall against North Dakota State's 12th-ranked Clay Read in the quarterfinals. Ream shot in on an early single leg, and Pantaleo pancaked him to his back for the fall at 1:09. Pantaleo opened the day with an 18-3 technical fall against Embry-Riddles James Williams behind six takedowns and a four-point near fall. Pantaleo is a former CKLV finalist, taking second place at 149 pounds in 2014.
Amine, ranked sixth at 174 pounds, battled to earn a 9-8 decision over Central Michigan's 16th-ranked CJ Brucki in the quarterfinal round, sacrificing the lead on a late Brucki reversal before reclaiming it on a reversal of his own with just 19 seconds remaining and riding out the match. Amine also earned bonus points in his first two matches of the day, including a 17-1 technical fall over Embry-Riddle's Kody Davis in the second round. Amine took third place in his CKLV debut last season.
Abounader, ranked fifth at 184 pounds, cruised to an 8-0 major decision against Wisconsin's 11th-ranked Ricky Robertson in the quarterfinal round, scoring a takedown in each period and riding for nearly five minutes. Abounader, who earned runner-up honors in his last CKLV appearance in 2015, also earned bonus with a quick fall (1:43) against North Dakota State's Tyler McNutt in the second round.
Coon, ranked second at heavyweight, boasted the Wolverines' most dominant performance of the day with three falls and a major decision to cruise into the CKLV semifinals for the third time in his career. He pinned a familiar foe in Eastern Michigan's 18th-ranked Gage Hutchison with a bow and arrow at the 4:10 mark in the quarterfinals. He also earned a pair of first-period pins and a second-round major decision. Coon won the CKLV heavyweight crown as a true freshman in 2013.
The Wolverines also have three alive in the wrestlebacks, notably junior/sophomore Logan Massa, ranked third nationally and the defending CKLV champion at 165 pounds, who suffered an 8-4 upset to Wisconsin's 17th-ranked Evan Wick after a late takedown in the quarterfinals. Massa earned bonus points in each of his other three bouts, with a first-round pin and back-to-back technical falls.
Freshman Drew Mattin, ranked 18th at 125 pounds, went 3-1 and closed the day with back-to-back pins in the wrestlebacks, including a comeback against Michigan State's Rayvon Foley. Graduate student Kevin Beazley, ranked fifth at 197 pounds, also went 3-1 on the day and closed it out with an 11-5 decision against Nebraska's Eric Schultz behind a six-point move at the buzzer.
Michigan will return to action tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 2) for the second and final day of competition at the 2017 Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nevada. U-M will hit the mat at 9 a.m. PST for the semifinals and continued wrestleback rounds, while the championships finals are slated for a 3 p.m. (PST) start. All matches will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Top 10 Teams (After Day 1)
1. MICHIGAN 90.0
2. Ohio State 85.0
3. Nebraska 73.5
4. Arizona State 71.5
5. Northern Iowa 68.0
6. Virginia Tech 56.5
7. Central Michigan 52.0
8. Wyoming 46.5
9. Cornell 45.0
10. Stanford 40.5