LAS VEGAS – North Dakota State junior Steven Monk, ranked No. 7 in the nation at 165 pounds, won all three of his matches on Friday at the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational to earn a spot in Saturday’s semifinals.
Monk, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, rolled to three easy victories to lock up his semifinal spot. He opened the day with a 12-0 major decision of Jake Mason of North Idaho College, pinned Harvard’s Ian Roy in 3:39 in the second round, and added a pin of South Dakota State’s Joseph Brewster in 3:49 in the quarterfinals.
Monk is now 12-0 on the season and 29-3 in his last 32 matches, dating back to Jan. 13, 2012.
Monk will meet No. 3-seeded and No. 8-ranked Nick Sulzer of Virginia in the semifinals on Saturday. The nation’s top ranked 165-pounder, Kyle Dake of Cornell, is alive in the other semifinal match.
NDSU freshman Josh Rodriguez made his first impact on the national scene Friday afternoon, defeating No. 10-ranked Brian Owen of Boise State in the second round of the 133-pound bracket.
Rodriguez opened the day with a 5-2 decision over Bricker Dixon of No. 8 Cornell before posting a 3-2 decision over Owen in the second round. Rodriguez dropped a 6-0 decision to No. 17 George DiCamillo of Virginia in the quarterfinals, but will join the consolation bracket tomorrow.
Joining Rodriguez in the consolation brackets for the Bison are senior Mark Erickson (141) and sophomore Evan Knutson (285). Both posted records of 3-1 on the day to stay alive.
Senior Joe Garner (149) and sophomore Kurtis Julson (174) each went 2-2 for the tournament.
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.
As many as 30 wrestlers currently ranked in the Top 10 in the nation are 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 contains a wrestler ranked in the Top 5 in the country.
The consolation fourth round begins at 11 a.m. (CT) on Saturday. Semifinal matches are set to start at noon (CT).