The Hokies placed four of seven wrestlers at the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational over the weekend led by sophomore No. 4 Caleb Henson’s runner-up finish at 149-pounds in his first appearance. Also finding the podium in their first CKLV were No. 5 Bryce Andonian, true freshman Sonny Sasso, and No. 18 Sam Fisher to round out the Tech wrestling contingent.
In a match-up that lived up to the billing, sophomore sensation No. 4 Caleb Henson gave Nebraska’s No. 1 Ridge Lovett all he could handle and battled to a 3-4 decision loss in the finals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational at 149-pounds. Henson put on display his relentless pace but it was Lovett who struck first off the Hokie’s pressure to end the first period. The Cornhusker would choose bottom to begin the second period and garner an escape but not before Henson erased riding time advantage to make it a more manageable deficit.
Henson would fire off an attack as the second period ended to make it a one-point bout heading into the final frame. Henson chose bottom to begin the third period and would continue to force his pace to eventually garner a stall call in his favor with time still left to rally for the victory.
The Tech sophomore would launch a final attempt and was within seconds of securing the winning takedown but just ran out of time to finish as runner-up in his first CKLV appearance.
It was a highly credentialed semifinal battle with a trip to the finals at stake in Las Vegas to begin day two at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. No. 4 Caleb Henson opened the morning session of day two right where he left off last night as he added another All-American to his list of defeated foes, this time over Arizona State’s three-time All-American, No. 3 Kyle Parco.
Henson struck first with a knee pull to finish and was relentless as he led 3-0 with 2:40 of riding time by the end of the first period. Henson would start the second on bottom and garner an escape to increase his lead to 4-0 and nearly added another takedown but ran out of time in the period. The Sun Devil would select neutral to begin the final period with constant pressure by Henson to maintain the dominant lead. Henson would add a riding time point to push his ticket into the finals against the country’s No. 1 ranked wrestler.
No. 5 Bryce Andonian did Bryce Andonian things as he navigated the backside on day two of the Cliff Keen Invitational where he would finish fourth to end his CKLV campaign. Andonian secured a 7-3 victory over Ohio State’s No. 16 Paddy Gallagher for the second time this season with an electric follow-up over No. 9 Daniel Cardenas (Stanford).
Andonian struck first with a takedown off a Cardenas high crotch and would never look back as he would take the 17-7 major decision with many acrobatics including a six-point sequence that would ice the bout for the most exciting wrestler in the country. His win would book a spot in the third-place bout where he would meet NC State’s No. 8 Ed Scott for the eighth time in their careers.
True freshman Sonny Sasso would finish his CKLV debut with a sixth-place finish including rattling off four-straight victories on the backside – all against ranked opponents – to find the podium in Las Vegas. Sasso would put on a short, yet dominant consolation quarterfinal bout against NCAA qualifier and No. 13 Nick Stemmet out of Stanford with a 7-0 lead and putting an exclamation point on things with a fall at 2:44 of the bout. Sasso would drop his next two bouts to All-American No. 6 Jacob Cardenas (Cornell) and Big Ten champion, No. 8 Silas Allred of Nebraska in a close bout to finish sixth in Vegas.
Sam Fisher finished eighth on the podium in his first CKLV event after battling in the consolation bracket over the course of the weekend. The Hokie redshirt junior went 4-3 with a win over two-time All-American and No. 10 ranked Gavin Kane to continue building his season’s resume.
The Hokies return to action on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum against Stanford in the final competition of the semester.
Virginia Tech Athletics