LAS VEGAS – Senior Jack Mueller (Dallas, Texas) won the title at 125 pounds on Saturday (Dec. 7) to lead the No. 24 Virginia wrestling team as one of two place winners at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Redshirt junior Jay Aiello (Chantilly, Va.) placed eighth at the event.
Mueller is the first champion for Virginia at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational since Nick Sulzer won the title at 165 pounds in the 2014 event. It is the second time Mueller has placed at the event after taking third during his sophomore season in 2017. Mueller did not wrestle at the event last season. The senior is now 6-0 on the season.
Aiello took eighth at the event, marking the second consecutive season for the Cavalier to turn in a podium finish at the Cliff Keen tournament. He finished third last season.
Virginia finished 14th in the team standings with 46.5 points. Second-ranked Nebraska won the tournament with 118 points, while seventh-ranked Ohio State finished second with 109.5 points. Fourth-ranked Arizona State finished third with 103 points.
“I’m really proud of Jack (Mueller),” said Virginia head coach Steve Garland. “This is a great tournament and for him to come in and wrestle like he did is great preparation for him in pursuit of his long-term goals. As a whole, our group is getting closer and closer. They need to continue to trust us coaches, lock in and get better in their attack areas for us to reach our goals. We have some hungry guys and our staff believes in them.”
Mueller, who is the No. 2 wrestler nationally at 125 pounds, went a perfect 5-0 in the tournament, posting three bonus-point victories on the first day of action before capping his run with a pair of victories on Saturday. He defeated Michael DeAugostino of Northwestern with a 3-0 decision before taking a 6-2 decision over ninth-ranked Devin Schroder of Purdue in the finals.
Aiello, who is the No. 7 wrestler nationally at 197 pounds, picked up a win in his first match of the day with a 9-1 major decision over Jonathan Loew of Cornell. He then dropped a pair of hard-fought decisions with Greg Bulsak of Clarion and Jacob Seely of Northern Colorado to finish in eighth.
Virginia’s three other wrestlers who were competing on Saturday all dropped their first matches of the day. Redshirt junior Louie Hayes (Orland Park, Ill.) dropped a 10-5 decision with Todd Small of Iowa State. Redshirt sophomore Denton Spencer (Waverly, Ga.) dropped a 9-7 decision to seventh-ranked Griffin Parriott of Purdue in the sudden victory period. Redshirt freshman Justin McCoy (New Paris, Pa.) dropped his first match with a 9-4 decision to Jacob Wright of Fresno State.
The Cavaliers will return to action at the Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern. The two-day tournament will be held Dec. 29-30 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman, Ill.
No. 2 Jack Mueller – 1st Place Finish
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 dec. M. DeAugostino (Northwestern), 3-0
FINAL: Mueller dec. No. 9 Devin Schroder (Purdue), 6-2
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: Todd Small (Iowa State) dec. Hayes 10-5
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: No. 7 Griffin Parriott (Purdue) dec. Spencer, 9-7 (sv-1)
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: Jacob Wright (Fresno State) dec. McCoy, 9-4
No. 7 Jay Aiello – 8th Place Finish
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 major dec. Jonathan Loew (Cornell), 9-1
Conso. R4-1: Greg Bulsak (Clarion) dec. Aiello, 7-4
7th Place Match: Jacob Seely (No. Colorado) dec. Aiello, 7-3
Saturday’s matches listed in italics.
VIGINIA WRESTLERS WHO CONCLUDED COMPETITION ON FRIDAY
R32: Cole Mattin (Michigan) dec. Courtney, 5-3
Conso. R16-2: Anthony Sparacio (Binghamton) dec. Courtney, 7-4
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