Three Utah Valley University wrestlers remain alive and will advance on to Saturday's final day of action at the 35th annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational after all three competed in the quarterfinal round on Friday evening at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Kimball Bastian (174 pounds), Will Sumner (184) and Tanner Orndorff (197) each won their first two respective bouts of the tournament to advance to Friday evening's quarterfinal round. All three Wolverine grapplers then dropped their quarterfinal matches to nationally ranked foes, as the trio will enter the consolation brackets on Saturday. The three Utah Valley grapplers in the quarterfinal round marked a program high at the prestigious tournament.
"I was pleased that the three guys were able to make it to the quarters. They wrestled well to get there," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "Kimball had a great match against the No. 1 seed and will start winning those matches if he will open up more. He has a great future ahead of him."
After opening with back-to-back decision victories over Air Force's Mitchell Billingsley (4-3) and Wisconsin's Ryan Christensen (9-4), the ninth-seeded Bastian gave the 2015 national runner-up and two-time All-American Brian Realbuto from Cornell all he could handle in the quarterfinal round. The fifth-ranked and top-seeded Realbuto struck first with a first-period takedown, but Bastian quickly countered with an escape to enter the second stanza trailing by just a point at 2-1. After trading a pair of escape points, Realbuto then held to his mere one-point advantage in the third and final period. Bastian did everything he could to score a late takedown and upset the highly ranked foe, but in the end Realbuto managed to hold on to a 3-2 decision victory over the Wolverine.
The seventh-seeded Sumner opened his 2016 CKLV Invitational run with a 5-1 decision over Cal Poly's Sohrab Movahedi followed by a 4-1 decision victory against Boise State's Kaydn Del Toro to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in his career. The Wolverine sophomore then matched up with the 2016 national champion and No. 2 ranked Myles Martin of Ohio State in the quarterfinal round. Sumner battled with the defending national champion before dropping the contest by fall in the second period (3:45).
The unseeded Orndorff advanced to the quarterfinals at 197 pounds after recording a pair of bonus-point victories in his first two matches at the renowned tournament. After defeating Western Wyoming's Aspen Naylor by technical fall (15-0), the UVU redshirt freshman then picked up an 11-2 major decision victory over Binghamton's Mark Tracy to meet up against the fourth-seeded and 12th-ranked Kollin Moore of Ohio State in the quarters. Moore then got the best of his Utah Valley counterpart by earning a 20-5 technical fall over Orndorff.
The trio of Utah Valley upper weights will enter Saturday morning's third session just one win shy of securing a medal finish at arguably the toughest early season tournament of the year after each posted a 2-1 record on Friday. Bastian will open Saturday's second day against Cal Baptist's Nolan Kistler, while Sumner will face off against Kistler's teammate from Cal Baptist in Nick Fiegener and Orndorff will take on Central Michigan's Austin Severn.
Six other Wolverine grapplers also took part at the renowned tournament, but all had their runs come to a close during Friday's opening session. Heavyweight Dustin Dennison led the group by going 2-2, while Mitch Brown (125), Chase Call (141) and Grant LaMont (149) finished their inaugural CKLV Invitational appearances with 1-2 records and Jarod Maynes (133) and Koy Wilkinson (165) each went 0-2. Dennison earned his two wins by decision, while Brown and Call recorded their victories via fall and LaMont earned his by major decision.
"This is a very challenging tournament," Williams said. "There are some things that we liked with our other guys today, but they need to keep getting better so they can start winning against some of the top guys in the country."
As a team, UVU enters Saturday's final day of action in 19th place out of 35 teams with 16.5 points. Fourth-ranked Ohio State leads the tournament with 73 points, while No. 6 Virginia Tech is in second (71) and No. 18 Minnesota is in third (61.5).
Saturday's third session opens at 10 a.m. MT, with a round of consolation matches followed by the semifinals. The tournament then concludes on Saturday at 4 p.m., with the championship finals.
Following the conclusion of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite, the Wolverines (1-1, 0-0 Big 12) will return to dual action at rival Boise State on Saturday, Dec. 10. After next Saturday's dual at the Pac-12 Broncos in Boise, the Wolverines will return to Orem for their home opener against fellow Pac-12 foe Oregon State on Thursday, Dec. 15.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.