North Dakota State Travels to Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

The North Dakota State wrestling team will travel to Las Vegas this weekend to take part in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Thirty-two teams are scheduled to compete in the tournament, including 26 Division I schools that make up one-third of the nation’s D-I wrestling institutions.

Matches are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. (CT) on Friday and Saturday.

NDSU BisonTop Competition
Of the 26 Division I schools competing in Las Vegas this weekend, nine are ranked in this week’s USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll. Ohio State (5), Missouri (7), Cornell (8), Nebraska (9), Michigan (14), Oregon State (15), Virginia (17), Wyoming (19) and Kent State (23) are all ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation.

NDSU Enters Intermat Top 25
North Dakota State entered the Intermat team rankings at No. 24 this week, one week after making its debut at No. 24 in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll. The Intermat team rankings are based on NCAA Tournament strength rather than dual meet strength.

No. 5 in the Nation
Bison senior Trent Sprenkle became the highest-ranked wrestler in NDSU’s Division I era when he came in at No. 5 in two national polls this week. Sprenkle, pegged as high as No. 6 at 125 pounds entering last weekend’s Bison Quad, was ranked at No. 5 by both Amateur Wrestling News and Intermat. The senior from Billings, Mont., owns an 8-0 record on the season including five pins.

Monk Up to No. 7
NDSU junior Steven Monk climbed to No. 7 in the Amateur Wrestling News rankings and No. 8 in the Intermat poll at 165 pounds. The junior from Wausau, Wis., defeated No. 10 Cody Yohn of top-ranked Minnesota on Nov. 24 and now owns a 9-0 mark on the season.

Two Good Runs
Steven Monk is 26-3 over his last 29 matches dating back to Jan. 13, 2012.

Trent Sprenkle is 20-3 in his last 23 matches dating back to Jan. 20, 2012, with two of those three losses coming against the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked wrestlers in the nation at last season’s NCAA Championships.

Bison Challenge No. 1 Gophers
On Nov. 24, NDSU won four matches and totaled 12 team points in a dual with top-ranked Minnesota – the most by any school against the Gophers this season. Minnesota recorded victories in the final four matches to erase a 12-7 deficit and win 22-12.

Last Season in Las Vegas
Steven Monk finished fourth at 157 pounds to lead the North Dakota State wrestling team at the 2011 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Trent Sprenkle was fifth at 125 pounds, while Kurtis Julson took eighth at 174 pounds.
As a team, NDSU scored 49 points to finish 13th out of 34 teams.

In the Polls
North Dakota State entered the Top 25 for the first time in the school’s Division I era on Nov. 20 when the Bison came in at No. 24 in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches Poll.

Top 10 Wrestlers
As many as 30 wrestlers currently ranked in the Top 10 in the nation will be competing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, including top-ranked wrestlers in the 133-, 165- and 197-pound weight classes. Each of the 10 weight classes is expected to contain a wrestler ranked in the Top 5.

Top 10 Wrestlers Expected at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

No. 4 Alan Waters, Missouri
No. 5 Trent Sprenkle, North Dakota State
No. 8 Matt Snyder, Virginia
NDSU entry: Trent Sprenkle, Sr., 8-0

No. 1 Logan Stieber, Ohio State
No. 6 Nathan McCormick, Missouri
NDSU entry: Josh Rodriguez, Fr., 11-2

No. 2 Hunter Stieber, Ohio State
No. 5 Tyler Graff, Wisconsin
No. 6 Michael Mangrum, Oregon State
No. 7 Mike Nevinger, Cornell
NDSU entry: Mark Erickson, Sr., 5-3

No. 3 Scott Sakaguchi, Oregon State
No. 4 Jason Chamberlain, Boise State
No. 7 Eric Grajales, Michigan
No. 8 Cole VonOhlen, Air Force
NDSU entry: Joe Garner, Sr., 5-3

No. 4 James Green, Nebraska
No. 10 Josh Demas, Ohio State
NDSU entry: Hayden Zillmer, R-Fr., 3-1

No. 1 Kyle Dake, Cornell
No. 7 Steven Monk, North Dakota State
No. 8 Nick Sulzer, Virginia
NDSU entry: Steven Monk, Jr., 9-0

No. 2 Nick Heflin, Ohio State
No. 6 Robert Kokesh, Nebraska
No. 9 Jon Fausey, Virginia
NDSU entry: Kurtis Julson, So., 5-3

No. 5 Josh Ihnen, Nebraska
No. 6 Ryan Loder, Northern Iowa
No. 8 Mike Larson, Missouri
NDSU entry: No. 16 Mac Stoll, Sr., 6-2

No. 1 Dustin Kilgore, Kent State
No. 4 Alfonso Hernandez, Wyoming
No. 5 Brent Haynes, Missouri
No. 10 Taylor Meeks, Oregon State
NDSU entry: Kallen Kleinschmidt, Sr., 4-2

No. 4 Dom Bradley, Missouri
No. 6 Chad Hanke, Oregon State
NDSU entry: Evan Knutson, So., 3-4

Tough Road Ahead
North Dakota State has three more ranked opponents scheduled for duals this season, including No. 7 Missouri, No. 15 Oregon State and No. 19 Wyoming. Two future opponents – Iowa State and Northern Iowa – have recently received votes in the Top 25 poll.