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Ten Unranked Wrestlers to Watch at the 2019 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

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photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com

We’re just a few days away from one of the tentpole events of the DI wrestling season, the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Year-in and year-out, the CKLV Invitational is one of the most difficult tournaments to win and this year is no different. In fact, it’s probably the deepest regular-season event for the 2019-20 season. While a full-fledged preview will come later in the week and there will also be numerous CKLV related articles leading up to the tournament and afterward. Today, we’re looking at some of the entrants that are not currently ranked by The Open Mat, yet have an outstanding shot at having a successful tournament, based on their recent history. Some of these competitors are freshmen that have not had the opportunity to shine on a national stage, yet others are veterans that, for one reason or another, see themselves outside, looking in, at the top-20 of their respective weights. Here are ten likely candidates, one per weight, that have the opportunity to crash the rankings come December 10th. 

125 - Brandon Courtney (Arizona State)

As a redshirt freshman, in 2018-19, Brandon Courtney was expected to come in and star for Arizona State. Courtney put together an excellent redshirt campaign that saw him lose only twice in 17 matches and featured a championship at the Michigan State Open, where he defeated Rayvon Foley (Michigan State). On top of that, Courtney had won the Junior World Team Trials, though he lost a separate wrestle-off to Daton Fix for the world team spot. Brandon ended up having to share starting duties with All-American Ryan Millhof, who had transferred in from Edinboro. Even with four wins over eventual NCAA qualifiers, Courtney was only able to put together a 14-11 season and did not get to see action in the postseason due to Millhof’s presence. This year has been different, as Brandon has won eight of nine bouts with his only loss coming to seventh-ranked Devin Schroder (Purdue). Courtney’s major decision at the beginning of the Sun Devils dual with Penn State ended up being huge in ASU’s upset. He also has a win over Virginia’s Patrick McCormick, who was a runner-up at the Keystone Classic. Courtney is currently on the cusp of the top 20 and should breakthrough if he has a strong two days in Las Vegas.

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