Lantern file photo
Ohio State’s No. 5-ranked wrestling team is heading west to Sin City to defend a tournament championship and compete against some of the top programs in the country.
After sweeping its first three duals of the season in a four-day span, the Buckeyes will travel Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Friday and Saturday.
This year’s invitational features 32 schools spanning from New York to California, but the best-ranked team is OSU. No. 7 Missouri, No. 8 Cornell, No. 9 Nebraska, No. 14 Michigan, No. 15 Oregon State, No. 17 Virginia, No. 19 Wyoming and No. 23 Kent State will challenge the No. 5-ranked Buckeyes for the title.
Last season OSU went to Las Vegas and won the championship with a team score of 129 points, 13 more than second place finisher Michigan. The Buckeyes return seven of their 10 wrestlers who competed last year.
Of those seven, six placed in the top six in their weight divisions, led by 2011 CKLV Invitational 133-pound champion redshirt sophomore Logan Stieber. He comes into this weekend with a season record of 7-0.
His brother, 141-pound sophomore Hunter Stieber, and heavyweight redshirt junior Peter Capone earned runner-up finishes in their respective weight classes. Hunter Stieber currently holds a 10-0 record and Capone is 6-1.
Redshirt junior Nick Heflin wrestled at the 174-pound weight class and finished in 3rd place. He is undefeated in six matches this year and projected to contend in the same division.
Placing sixth at the invitational last season were redshirt sophomore Josh Demas at 157-pounds and sophomore Cam Tessari at 149-pounds. Demas and Tessari each hold season records of 8-0 and 3-3, respectively.
The other three consist of two Buckeyes making their CKLV Invitational debut and one returning after three years.
Freshman Mark Martin, who wrestles at 165-pounds, and 184-pound redshirt freshman Kenny Courts are probable to make their first appearances at the CKLV Invitational. Each has seen success this season – Martin is 10-4 and Courts leads the team in wins with an 11-3 record.
As a junior in 2009, Nikko Triggas placed eighth at 125-pound. After a hiatus from OSU, the senior is projected to compete in the same weight class this year with a season record of 6-3.
The Invitational lasts two days, starting Friday morning and concluding Saturday evening.