Gophers advance two to semifinals with five total wrestlers still alive

LAS VEGAS – The Gophers wrestling team had a good first day at the Cliff Keen Invitational tournament with individual success and a team score of 46.5 which puts them in eighth place after the first day.

The Gophers have two wrestlers, Sean Russell, and Gable Steveson, in the semifinals side of the bracket and five alive across both sides of the tournament.

125-pound Russell, the three seed in the tournament, started the Gophers off well with a 20-5 technical fall over Brendon Fenton of Virginia in the opening pigtail bout. Russell was able to take down Fenton with ease before the match was called with the necessary 15-point lead. In his next match Russell held a double-digit lead but didn’t settle and eventually pinned his opponent in the second period.

minnlogoHe scored yet another bonus point victory with a 20-7 major decision over Joey Prata of Virginia Tech. In the evening quarterfinals Russell needed only a single escape to defeat No. 12 Travis Piotrowski.

Making his Cliff Keen debut was heavyweight Gable Steveson who began the competition as the top heavyweight. Steveson pinned Michigan’s Luke Ready in the second period to win his first match before he got the technical fall over John Borst of Virginia Tech 18-3. Steveson continued his roll with a major decision 15-6 over AJ Nevills of Fresno State.

Russell will face Oregon State’s No. 3 Ronnie Bresser in the Gophers first semifinal bout while Steveson will take on No. 13 Cory Daniel from North Carolina.

After getting third in last year’s tournament at a lower weight class, 133-pound Ethan Lizak continued his success in Las Vegas. Lizak began his day with a 9-2 victory and followed it up with a technical fall of John Twomey from Air Force, who he already defeated earlier this season

In his final match on Friday evening, Lizak found himself on the wrong end of a tight matchup with No. 13 Micky Phillippi. Lizak fell 4-0.

174-pound Devin Skatzka was the third and final Gopher to win his pigtail match. Skatzka got a quick takedown within 15 seconds and went on to secure a 7-4 decision over Devin Kane of North Carolina. He followed that opening match with two consecutive major decisions including one over Kimball Bastian, the seven-seed in the tournament and No.18 wrestler in the country.

In his final match of the evening, Skatzka fell to No. 4 Daniel Lewis, the second seed in the tournament by pin.

While he dropped his first match of the tournament, 165-pound Carson Brolsma never gave in and turned things up in the consolation bracket. Brolsma kept getting better with a decision in his first match, a major decision in the next and finished the night with a pin of Evan Delong from Clarion.

184-pound Owen Webster grinded out a narrow victory over Wyoming’s Carless Looney in an incredibly close matchup. Webster then dropped his next match, also a close battle, in a 6-4 decision. He was eliminated from the tournament with a major decision loss to Virginia’s Will Schany.

141-pound Brent Jones made an impact as a fill-in for the injured Mitch McKee. Jones won his pigtail match 5-3 with over two minutes of riding time. Jones fell in his next match to Anthony Sparacio of Binghamton by an 8-5 decision to send him to the consolation bracket. Jones fell 18-8 for his final loss of the tournament.

Eight-seed 149-pound Tommy Thorn fell in his first match of the day after a late nearfall gave Opsal a revenge victory after falling to Thorn earlier this season in a dual meet. Thorn then lost to California Baptist’s Daxton Gordon in a 10-5 decision.

197-pound Dylan Anderson dropped his first match 14-8 in a major decision that slipped away from him in the final period. The bout was close but a third period takedown and subsequent nearfall put it out of reach.

The Gophers resume action tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. CT.

Brackets/Results on


Sean Russell (4-0 )
Pigtails: No. 3 Sean Russell TF Brendon Fenton (Virginia) 20-5
Round of 32: No. 3 Sean Russell fall (3:49) Jacob Frias (North Idaho)
Round of 16: No. 3 Sean Russell major dec. Joey Prata (Virginia Tech) 20-7
Round of 8: No. 3 Sean Russell dec. No. 6 Travis Piotrowski (Illinois) 1-0


Ethan Lizak (2-1)
Round of 32: No. 3 Ethan Lizak dec. Anthony Madrigal (Oklahoma) 9-2
Round of 16: No. 3 Ethan Lizak tech. fall John Twomey (Air Force) 16-0
Round of 8: No. 6 Micky Phillippi (Pittsburgh) dec. No. 3 Ethan Lizak 4-0


Brent Jones (1-2)
Pigtails: Brent Jones dec. Trevor Tarsi (Harvard) 5-3
Round of 32: Anthony Sparacio (Binghamton) dec. Brent Jones 8-5
Cons Rnd 2: Taylor Ortiz (Clarion) major dec. Brent Jones 18-8


Tommy Thorn (0-2)
Round of 32: Alec Opsal dec. No. 8 Tommy Thorn 10-8
Cons Rnd 1: Daxton Gordon (California Baptist) dec. No. 8 Tommy Thorn 10-5

Carson Brolsma (3-1)
Round of 32: No. 11 Cam Coy (Virginia) dec. Carson Brolsma 7-0
Cons Rnd. 1: Carson Brolsma dec. Jacob Thalin (Cal State Bakersfield) 8-4
Cons Rnd. 2: Carson Brolsma major dec. Cole Wysocki (Purdue) 11-0
Cons Rnd 3: Carson Brolsma fall (6:20) Evan Delong (Clarion)


Devin Skatzka (3-1)
Pigtails: No. 10 Devin Sktazka dec. Devin Kane (North Carolina) 7-4
Round of 32: No. 10 Devin Skatzka major dec. Colt Doyle (Oregon State) 19-5
Round of 16: No. 10 Devin Skatzka major dec. No. 7 Kimball Bastian (Utah Valley) 10-1
Round of 8: No. 2 Daniel Lewis (Missouri) fall (2:27) No. 10 Devin Skatzka


Owen Webster (1-2)
Round of 32: Owen Webster dec. Carless Looney (Wyoming) 5-4
Round of 16: No. 3 Zack Zavatsky dec. Owen Webster 6-3
Cons Rd: Will Schany (Virginia) major dec. Owen Webster 11-3


Dylan Anderson (0-2)
Round of 32: Jay Aiello (Virginia) major dec. Dylan Anderson (14-8)
Cons Rnd: Cale Davidson (Wyoming) dec. Dylan Anderson (6-3)


Gable Steveson (3-0)
Round of 32: No. 1 Gable Steveson fall (4:25) Luke Ready (Michigan)
Round of 16: No. 1 Gable Steveson tech fall John Borst (Virginia Tech) 18-3
Round of 8: No. 1 Gable Steveson major dec. AJ Nevills (Fresno State) 15-6

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