LAS VEGAS – Senior Jack Mueller (Dallas, Texas) paced the No. 24 Virginia wrestling team on day one of competition at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, picking up three victories to advance to the semifinals at 125 pounds. Mueller is the top seed at his weight class in the event and is ranked No. 2 nationally.
Five of the eight wrestlers competing in the event for Virginia will continue competition on Saturday (Dec. 6) along with Mueller. Jay Aiello (Chantilly, Va.), Louie Hayes (Orland Park, Ill.), Justin McCoy (New Paris, Pa.) and Denton Spencer (Waverly, Ga.) are all still wrestling in the consolation bracket and looking to place for the Cavaliers.
Virginia is 12th in the overall team standings with 31 points after the first day of action. Second-ranked Nebraska leads in the team score with 69 pointes, while seventh-ranked Ohio State is second in the team standings with 68 points. Fourth-ranked Arizona State is third overall with 60.5 points.
Aiello, who is ranked No. 7 nationally, advanced to Friday night’s quarterfinals at 197 pounds, while McCoy was in the quarterfinal round at 157 pounds and Hayes was in the quarterfinal round at 133 pounds. Each wrestler suffered their only defeat of the day in the quarterfinals to drop to the consolation bracket. Spencer fell in the round of 16 at the hands of No. 19 Yahya Thomas of Northwestern before winning a pair of consolation matches to stay alive for competition on Saturday.
“It was a solid first day,” said Virginia head coach Steve Garland. “We have a ton to build on. Our guys wrestled well overall. We had some big wins and some hard losses, but in all of them our guys are showing progression from the first competition of the year and that’s what you want to see. From Jack (Mueller) to Louie (Hayes) and on from there, our guys hit some great stuff and did some great things. Our team is growing and getting better for sure.”
Mueller advanced to the 125-pound semifinals with three consecutive bonus-point victories, winning by fall in his opening match before following it up with a technical fall in the round of 16 and a major decision in the quarterfinals. Mueller will now face Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern in the semifinals.
Hayes won back-to-back matches to start the day at 133 pounds, including a victory over No. 15 Anthony Madrigal of Oklahoma in the Round of 16. His quarterfinal bout was a hard-fought match with decided by one point as Ridge Lovett of Nebraska took the 8-7 decision. Hayes will face Todd Small of Iowa State in his first match on day two.
Spencer turned in a pair of wins by fall around the loss to Thomas. He then closed out the day with a stingy performance in the 149-pound wrestlebacks with a 3-0 decision against Oklahoma’s Jacob Butler. Spencer will face No. 7 Griffin Parriott of Purdue in his first match on Saturday.
McCoy began the day with a victory over No. 11 Will Lewan of Michigan at 157 pounds, holding a 6-1 lead on the Wolverine before he defaulted due to injury. The Cavalier then won his second match by decision before dropping a hard-fought match with No. 8 Kendall Thomas of Purdue in the quarterfinals. He will now face Jacob Wright of Fresno State on Saturday.
Aiello ground out a pair of decisions in his first two matches of the day before a third-period escape and a takedown provided the margin of victory for No. 17 Christian Brunner of Purdue. The Boilermaker grabbed the 4-2 decision over Aiello as the wrestlers met for the second consecutive season at the Cliff Keen Invitational. Aiello will now face Jonathan Loew of Cornell in his first match on day two.
Brian Courtney (Sayre, Pa.), Krystian Kinsey (Havelock, N.C.) and Michael Battista (Fairfax, Va.) also competed for the Cavaliers on day one of action.
Wrestling will begin at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday and fans can follow the action through live results and a subscription based live stream provided by FloWrestling. Both are linked at VirginiaSports.com. Fans can also get updates by following the program’s official Twitter account (@UVAWrestling).
No. 2 Jack Mueller
R32: Mueller pinned Malik Heinselman (Ohio State), 1:42
R16: Mueller tech fall Kahlen Morris (S. Dakota State), 19-2
QF: Mueller major dec. Patrick McKee (Minnesota), 16-4
SF: Mueller vs. M. DeAugostino (Northwestern)
R32: Hayes over Gary Joint (Fresno State) by injury default
R16: Hayes dec. No. 15 Anthony Madrigal (Oklahoma), 6-1
QF: Ridge Lovett (Nebraska) dec. Hayes, 8-7
Conso. R8-2: Hayes vs. Todd Small (Iowa State)
R32: Cole Mattin (Michigan) dec. Courtney, 5-3
Conso. R16-2: Anthony Sparacio (Binghamton) dec. Courtney, 7-4
No. 20 Denton Spencer
R32: Spencer pinned Teontae Wilson (Nebraska-Kearney), 1:55
R16: No. 19 Yahya Thomas (Northwestern) dec. Spencer, 8-3
Conso. R16-2: Spencer pinned Reece Heller (Hofstra), 0:32
Conso. R8-1: Spencer dec. Jacob Butler (Oklahoma), 3-0
Conso. R8-2: Spencer vs. No. 7 Griffin Parriott (Purdue)
R32: McCoy over No. 11 Will Lewan (Michigan) by injury default
R16: McCoy dec. Wyatt Gerl (CSU Bakersfield), 7-2
QF: No. 8 Kendall Coleman (Purdue) dec. McCoy, 6-3
Conso. R8-2: McCoy vs. Jacob Wright (Fresno State)
R32: Chase Straw (Iowa State) dec. Kinsey, 4-1
Conso. R16-2: Shayne Oster (Northwestern) dec. Kinsey, 3-0
R32: Max Lyon (Purdue) dec. Battista, 6-4
Conso. R16-1: Battista major dec. Josh Loomer (CSU Bakersfield), 14-5
Conso. Rd16-2: No. 7 Benjamin Darmstadt (Cornell) pinned Battista, 0:47
No. 7 Jay Aiello
R32: Aiello dec. Stephen Buchanan (Wyoming), 8-7
R16: Aiello dec. Cole Witzig (N. Dakota State), 8-3
QF: No. 17 Christian Brunner (Purdue) dec. Aiello, 4-2
Conso. R8-2: Aiello vs. Jonathan Loew (Cornell)
Saturday’s upcoming matches listed in italics.