The Gophers are prepared to head to their first major tournament of the season at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. The event is a star-studded affair with numerous ranked programs as well as some of the best wrestlers in the nation.
Among the schools attending alongside the Gophers include Ohio State, Arizona State, Cornell, Nebraska, Iowa State, and Virginia Tech.
Last season the Gophers placed in sixth with one champion and four total placers. The Buckeyes took the top spot in the tournament.
The event takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center directly next door to the Westgate Vegas Resort and Casino and will be broadcast live on flowrestling.org.
125: Pat McKee (7-1)
133: Brent Jones (5-4)
141: No.4 Mitch McKee (11-1)
149: No. 12 Brayton Lee (8-1)
157: Carson Brolsma (4-4)
165: Bailee O’Reilly (8-2)
174: No. 9 Devin Skatzka (10-1)
184: Owen Webster (10-1)
197: Garrett Joles (6-4)
285: Bobby Steveson (4-1)
As the main Gophers starter at 184-pounds so far this season, Owen Webster has taken advantage of his opportunities. The Shakopee native is 10-1 with his only loss coming on the opening weekend at the Bison Open.
Webster is undefeated in the Gophers three dual matches including a ranked upset over Oklahoma State’s Anthony Montalvo on November 24.
In those ten victories, Webster has four total bonus-point victories with one pin, one technical fall, and two major decisions.
With both McKee brothers in the lineup, the pair have been rolling in the early part of the season. The St. Michael-Albertville products have set a tone for the Gophers in the lightweights.
Younger brother Patrick McKee is starting at 125-pounds with a 7-2 record while big brother Mitch McKee is the Gophers top wrestler with a perfect record.
Both brothers have won two open titles already this season and have combined for a total of 15 bonus point victories in 20 matches. Even more impressive, the pair have combined with nine pins.
Since returning to the lineup against Rider on November 15, Bobby Steveson has been the main Gophers heavyweight and has four straight victories.
The Apple Valley native hasn’t allowed a takedown in a dual and racked up five of his own in Stillwater, Oklahoma, against the Cowboys’ Autin Harris.
With a young lineup this season, the Gophers grapplers have plenty of “firsts” this season. The last dual in Oklahoma marked the first career road dual starts for Patrick McKee, Brayton Lee, Bailee O’Reilly, and Garrett Joles.
So, this upcoming trip to the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational will represent the first non-open tournament those four have participated in as Gophers starters.
Elsewhere, Bobby Steveson has notched his first dual victory since January 12, 2018, against Ohio State, a span of 682 days.
Buena Vista Open
While the starters are competing in Las Vegas, plenty of Gophers will be headed to Iowa for the Buena Vista Open hosted by the university of the same name. Among those attending include Jake Gliva, Sebas Swiggum, Jakob Bergeland, Cael Carlson, Ryan Thomas, Caden Steffen, and Hunter Ritter.
After returning from Las Vegas, Minnesota returns to dual action. The Gophers will prepare to take on South Dakota in Brookings on December 20 against former Gophers Champion, and now Jackrabbits head coach, Damion Hahn.
Minnesota finishes out the calendar year at the South Beach Duals on December 29 and 30 before beginning the Big Ten slate 11 days later against Wisconsin at home.