2x Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational placewinner Mikey Labriola (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
"I Love Vegas, every moment,
It's my favorite atmosphereâ€¦
I love Vegasâ€¦ why do I, do I love Vegas?
Because my money's hereâ€¦"
It's officially Vegas week, which means it's time to watch that age-old classic: Casino (currently streaming on Peacock). Ranked #7 on the all-time list of movies that say the work "F***" (or some derivation of it) at a rate of 2.40 "F***s per Minute," or "FPM." But I digress.
Quick story before we get to the wrestling sort of things:
After graduating college in 2011, a group of us Etown Wrestlers and friends went out to Vegas for a few days. On the last day of the trip, after checking out of our rooms and having a little more available space in our wallets, we had some time to kill before heading to the airport. So, walking around the floor of the Mirage, I came across a table game that I thought only existed in Vegas Vacationâ€¦ "War."
There I am, playing $10 a hand. Winning some, losing some, basically treading water and getting my watered-down Gin & Tonics, when this buzzed college kid comes running up and sits in the chair next to me.
He starts chatting up the dealer, trying to be everyone's friend, making crude and terrible jokes. Kind of what you expect from the casino crowd at 2pm on a weekday. The dealer continues to flip the cards, with a look on her face so dead that you can tell she's questioning how she got to this point in her lifeâ€¦ dealing War.
At some point, that point we hall have reached at one time or another when gambling, Mr. Talkative just said "F*** It!" and threw down his last $100 bill on one handâ€¦ OF WAR!.
Down come the cards around the table and, surprise, surprise, Mr. Chatterbox has the same card as the dealer. As we all know, that means War, but for those not versed in the gameplay of Casino War, you have to double your bet in order to go to War. But that was his last $100, remember?
So he jumps out of his seat, frantically checks his pockets for the money he knows isn't there, and with a bewildered look on his face, asks if he can run to his buddy who is on the other side of the floor at the Roulette table to borrow another $100. With the death stare I've only seen before on Stanley Hudson, the dealer turns to us and says, "if they are ok with itâ€¦"
At this point, me and the two others at the table are invested. "Go! Go!" we yell, while doing the international double hand-sweeping gesture for him to get going. He darts off the table, almost hitting a pedestrian or three and within seconds, he's out of sight. We wait around for a good 5 minutes until we see him running back through the masses, hand in the air with a crisp "C-note" like a sail in the wind off the horizon. He slams Mr. Franklin on the table and yells, "Hit Me!" as the sweat starts to drip from his nose and slowly saturate the Tommy Bahama button-down he's sporting.
One card, two cards, three cards face down for himâ€¦ One card, two cards, three cards face down for her.
Down comes his face cardâ€¦. A Queen of Hearts. He goes freaking NUTS. Starts hand pumping, high-fiving us at the table; he's got this one in the bag.
Down comes the dealer's face cardâ€¦. King.
On to Week 5:
Thursday morning, this guy is heading to the airport to fly out west and cover the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, arguably the best in-season tournament, with El CapitÃ¡n Earl Smith. Expect some cool stuff coming your way soon.
Even though I always say, "registering for a tournament doesn't mean they are actually wrestling in said tournament," CKLV feels like it's going to be different (at least I really hope so, but I've been surprised too many times already this season). This tournament is basically a pre-test for the Conferences and National Tournaments. The first two-day, multi-day weigh-in test for a wrestler to gauge where they currently stand in the mix of it all. I don't expect a lot of dropouts come Friday morning; these guys are ready to battle.
Obviously, the big tourney is in Sin City this week, but don't push the other two (Cougar Clash and The Patriot Open) off to the side; there's plenty of potential points to be had. Almost like a Kansas City Shuffle, everyone is going to be focused on the bright lights out west when maybe the better opportunities are on this side (east-side) of the Mississippi.
The Patriot Open looks to be fully stocked with D1 competition and a lot of even brackets, which is why you might see three or so names listed at a weight for the event. The Cougar Clash, though, has little info on entries at the moment. The Big Guns of Wisconsin are entered from Barnett to Hillger, but we have seen this before at the beginning of the season when the same crew was registered for the Michigan State Open and then did not show.
On top of that, here are some of my "scribbled notes" of Week 5:
At 125, the round-robin of Surtin (MIZZ), Latona (VT), and Teske (UNI) could leave us with just as many questions as we have entering the tri-meet. All three could go 1-1 this weekend, which apparently will piss off the rankers at Flo, since they complain about that all the time anyway.
Quinn Kinner vs Dresden Simon has fireworks written all over it. This one is too close to call (on paper), so I'm looking elsewhere for points.
The earliest dual to lock is on Wednesday between Clarion and Bloomsburg, but looking ahead a couple of days to Clarion's second dual of the week is at home against Ohio. At the 149 matchup, Alec Hagen has a career win over Brent Mooreâ€¦ but that result is from 2017. A Lot has changed, but I think their match is going to be razor-thin. Both will net positive points, but one will have a little more than the other.
At 174, Matt Finesilver has the chance to be one of the higher scorers of Week 5, but will have to get through Michale O'Malley of Drexel. WrestleStat has O'Malley winning, but my spidey-sense is having me lean Finesilver. Either way, I think both Matt Finesilver and Michael O'Malley will net positive points.
Iowa's 174 to 197 has me shrugging my shoulders. Will the starters go? Will they sit again? If they are going to send out the starters, they are all favored (moreso 174 Kemerer in the bonus), but without confirmation, I am afraid to waste a spot on them when there will be a lot of points being thrown around this week.
If you are going to roll with a Wisconsin starter, set some realistic expectations for one, maybe two, D1 matches to count in your WrestleStat league. That's not a terribly bad thing, as it's always great to have positive points. Sometimes the better matchups with fewer potential matches pull through as the recipe to win the week.
As usual, tournament entries continue to come in and we will be sure to update you as we get more information.
Good luck and if you are in Vegas, come find us and say "Hey"!
Wrestlers I Like This Week
Wrestler (School)- competition for the week [Proj Score]
*organized by projected score first, then by school name*
Eric Barnett (Wisconsin)- Cougar Clash
Braxton Brown (Maryland)- Patriot Open
Ed Ventresca (Virginia Tech)- Patriot Open
Logan Agin (Duke)- Vs Drexel & Maryland (@MARY), Vs American & Hofstra (@AMER) [+8]
Joseph Fischer (Clarion)- Vs Bloomsburg, Vs Ohio [+7]
Jakob Camacho (NC State)- Vs Gardner-Webb [+4]
Dylan Shawver (Rutgers)- @ American [+3]
Brock Bergelin (Central Michigan)- Vs Rider [+3]
Tony: 1) Pat Glory 2) Devin Schroder 3) Malik Heinselman 4) Joe Manchio
Todd: 1) Pat Glory 2) Devin Schroder 3) Malik Heinselman 4) Greg Diakomihalis
Angelo Rini (Columbia)- Patriot Open
Jordan Titus (West Virginia)- Patriot Open
King Sandoval (Maryland)- Vs Drexel, Vs Duke [+7]
Rayvon Foley (Michigan State)- @ Lock Haven, @ Bucknell [+7]
Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State)- @ Lehigh, @ U Penn [+6]
Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech)- Vs Missouri, Vs UNI [+6]
Austin DeSanto (Iowa)- @ Iowa State [+4]
Sammy Alvarez (Rutgers)- @ American [+4]
Tony: 1) Mosha Schwartz 2) Dylan Ragusin 3) Chris Cannon 4) Nick Masters
Todd: 1) Chris Cannon 2) Dylan Ragusin 3) Job Greenwood 4) Mosha Schwartz
Joseph Zargo (Wisconsin)- Cougar Clash
Matt Kazimir (Columbia)- Patriot Open
Sam Hillegas (Virginia Tech)- Patriot Open
Kaden Cassidy (George Mason)- Vs Long Island, Patriot Open
Nick Lee (Penn State)- @ Lehigh, @ U Penn [+8]
Wil Gil (Franklin & Marshall)- Vs Long Island, Vs VMI [+7]
Justin Hoyle (Hofstra)- Vs American, Vs Duke (@AMER) [+7]
Danny Bertoni (Maryland)- Vs Drexel, Vs Duke [+6]
Derek Spann (Buffalo)- @ Edinboro [+5]
Jaydin Eierman (Iowa)- @ Iowa State [+5]
Sebastian Rivera (Rutgers)- @ American [+5]
Darren Miller (Bucknell)- Vs Michigan State [+3]
Gabe Willochell (Edinboro)- Vs Buffalo [+3]
Ryan Jack (NC State)- Vs Gardner-Webb [+3]
Tony: 1) Andrew Alirez 2) Clay Carlson 3) Chad Red 4) Dylan D'Emilio
Todd: 1) Chad Red 2) Andrew Alirez 3) Dylan D'Emilio 4) Parker Filius
Austin Gomez (Wisconsin)- Cougar Clash
Josh Finesliver (Duke)- Vs Drexel & Maryland (@MARY), Vs American & Hofstra (@AMER) [+8]
Brent Moore (Clarion)- Vs Bloomsburg, Vs Ohio [+7]
Peyton Omania (Michigan State)- @ Lock Haven, @ Bucknell [+7]
Tariq Wilson (NC State)- Vs Gardner-Webb [+4]
Corbyn Munson (Central Michigan)- Vs Rider [+3]
Alec Hagen (Ohio)- @ Clarion, @ West Virginia [+1]
Tony: 1) Yianni Diakomihalis 2) Sammy Sasso 3) Jaden Abas 4) Mitch Moore
Todd: 1) Yianni Diakomihalis 2) Sammy Sasso 3) Ridge Lovett 4) Jaden Abas
Paddy Gallagher (Ohio State)- Storm Open
Blake Showers (VMI)- Vs Franklin & Marshall, Vs Long Island (@F&M) [+8]
Parker Kropman (Drexel)- Vs Duke, Vs Maryland (@MARY) [+7]
Chase Saldate (Michigan State)- @ Lock Haven, @ Bucknell [+8]
Jarrett Jacques (Missouri)- Vs Virginia Tech, Vs UNI (@VT) [+7]
Josh Humphreys (Lehigh)- @ Lock Haven, @ Penn State [+6]
Ed Scott (NC State)- Vs Gardner-Webb [+4]
Robert Kanniard (Rutgers)- @ American [+4]
Michael Petite (Buffalo)- @ Edinboro [+3]
Johnny Lovett (Central Michigan)- Vs Rider [+3]
Doug Zapf (U Penn)- Vs Penn State [+3]
David Carr (Iowa State)- Vs Iowa [+3]
Tony: 1) Ryan Deakin 2) Quincy Monday 3) Andrew Cerniglia 4) Peyton Robb
Todd: 1) Ryan Deakin 2) Peyton Robb 3) Quincy Monday 4) Will Lewan
Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin)- Cougar Clash
Michael Kistler (U Penn)- Patriot Open
Keegan O'Toole(Missouri)- Vs Virginia Tech, Vs UNI (@VT) [+9]
Job Chishko (VMI)- Vs Franklin & Marshall, Vs Long Island (@F&M) [+8]
Ricky Stamm (Hofstra)- Vs American, Vs Duke (@AMER) [+6]
Brian Meyer (Lehigh)- @ Lock Haven, @ Penn State [+6]
Zach Hartman (Bucknell)- Vs Michigan State [+4]
Alex Marinelli (Iowa)- @ Iowa State [+4]
Peyton Hall (West Virginia)- @ Ohio [+3]
Tony: 1) Shane Griffith 2) Evan Wick 3) Carson Kharchla 4) Julian Ramirez
Todd: 1) Evan Wick 2) Shane Griffith 3) Cam Amine 4) Carson Kharchla
Andrew McNally (Wisconsin)- Cougar Clash
Matt Finesilver (Duke)- Vs Drexel & Maryland (@MARY), Vs American & Hofstra (@AMER) [+9]
John Worthing (Clarion)- Vs Bloomsburg, Vs Ohio [+8]
Carter Starocci (Penn State)- @ Lehigh, @ U Penn [+8]
Michael O'Malley (Drexel)- Vs Duke, Vs Maryland (@MARY) [+7]
Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech)- Vs Missouri, Vs UNI [+6]
Hayden Hidlay (NC State)- Vs Gardner-Webb [+5]
Tony: 1) Mikey Labriola 2) Ethan Smith 3) Chris Foca 4) Tyler Eischens
Todd: 1) Mikey Labriola 2) Chris Foca 3) Ethan Smith 4) Geritt Nijenhuis
Chris Weiler (Wisconsin)- Cougar Clash
Rocky Jordan (Ohio State)- Storm Open
Aaron Brooks (Penn State)- @ Lehigh, @ U Penn [+8]
Charles Small (Hofstra)- Vs American, Vs Duke (@AMER) [+7]
Layne Malczewski (Michigan State)- @ Lock Haven, @ Bucknell [+7]
Trent Hidlay (NC State)- Vs Gardner-Webb [+4]
John Poznanski (Rutgers)- @ American [+4]
Tony: 1) Bernie Truax 2) Taylor Venz 3) Kaleb Romero 4) Tate Samuelson
Todd: 1) Taylor Venz 2) Kaleb Romero 3) Max Lyon 4) Bernie Truax
Braxton Amos (Wisconsin)- Cougar Clash
Jon List (George Mason)- Patriot Open
Cole Urbas (U Penn)- Patriot Open
Jaxson Smith (Maryland)- Patriot Open
Cam Caffey (Michigan State)- @ Lock Haven, @ Bucknell [+8]
Rocky Elam (Missouri)- Vs Virginia Tech, Vs UNI (@VT) [+8]
Max Dean (Penn State)- @ Lehigh, @ U Penn [+8]
Tyler Mousaw (VMI)- Vs Franklin & Marshall, Vs Long Island (@F&M) [+8]
Kaden Russell (Duke)- Vs Drexel & Maryland (@MARY), Vs American & Hofstra (@AMER) [+6]
Isaac Trumble (NC State)- Vs Gardner-Webb [+5]
Greg Bulsak (Rutgers)- @ American [+3]
Tony: 1) Jacob Cardenas 2) Patrick Brucki 3) Stephen Buchanan 4) Jake Woodley
Todd: 1) Jake Woodley 2) Patrick Brucki 3) Louie DePrez 4) Eric Schultz
Trent Hillger (Wisconsin)- Cougar Clash
Ryan Catka (Navy)- Patriot Open
Ethan Laird (Rider)- Patriot Open
Hunter Catka (Virginia Tech)- Patriot Open
Zachary Knighton-Ward (Hofstra)- Vs American, Vs Duke (@AMER) [+7]
Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State)- @ Lehigh, @ U Penn [+7]
Zach Schrader (Maryland)- Vs Duke, Vs Drexel [+6]
Nathan Traxler (Virginia Tech)- Vs Missouri, Vs UNI [+6]
Matt Stencel (Central Michigan)- Vs Rider [+5]
Tony Cassioppi (Iowa)- @ Iowa State [+4]
Tony: 1) Tate Orndorff 2) Christian Lance 3) Lucas Davison 4) Josh Heindselman
Todd: 1) Lucas Davison 2) Brian Andrews 3) Yaraslau Slavikouski 4) Christian Lance
Good luck everybody! Set that lineup to win the week and Viva Las Vegas!