Wrestling: Ohio State claims second at Cliff Keen Invitational

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Ohio State wrestling head coach Tom Ryan raises his fist after then-sophomore Gavin Hoffmann won his match during the Ohio State-Rutgers matchup on Jan. 24. Ohio State won 19-14. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

The No. 8 Ohio State wrestling team traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, this weekend to compete in the Cliff Keen Invitational as the team finished second overall.

The Buckeyes finished second with 104 points, coming behind Nebraska with 125. They were among 27 teams and finished No. 2 in the 2019 competition when it was last held.

Senior Kaleb Romero captured gold for the Buckeyes, defeating Nebraska’s senior Taylor Venz 7-3 by decision and winning the championship in the 184-pound bracket.

Romero advanced to the finals after defeating Wyoming junior Tate Samuelson, who was the top-ranked 184-pounder at the tournament and No. 11 overall by InterMat wrestling.

“I’m excited about what we can accomplish this year as a team and from an individual point,” Romero said prior to the season starting. “The sky’s the limit, and we’re going to perform at a high level.”

After the first set of rounds on Friday, Ohio State had five-of-eight wrestlers advance to the semi-finals. Through Saturdays’ first session, the Buckeyes then had three wrestlers advance to the finals.

Prior to the weekend, head coach Tom Ryan said the weekend would be filled with fireworks.

“All these matches are going to be extremely tight, and all our guys are looking forward to the intense competition,” Ryan said. “It’s going to be fun.”

No. 2 redshirt junior Sammy Sasso competed and lost in the 149-pound class final in a top-two matchup. He fell to No. 1 junior Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell.

Sasso trailed 4-0 early before scoring a takedown to reduce the lead to two points. Diakomihalis extended the lead to win a 7-2 decision, handing Sasso his first loss of the season.

Sasso has now claimed second place at the invitational twice, the first coming in 2019.

No. 6 redshirt senior Ethan Smith made the finals at 174 pounds but claimed second place after falling to Nebraska’s No. 3 junior Mikey Labriola.

Smith scored first after a successful takedown but fell in overtime 7-5.

No. 9 redshirt sophomore Carson Kharchla captured third place at the 165-pound division after a 5-2 decision over Cornell freshman Julian Ramirez. No. 6 redshirt senior Tate Orndorff claimed fourth place in the heavyweight division.

Rounding out the competition, Ohio State redshirt sophomore Dylan D’Emilio and redshirt junior Gavin Hoffman lost in consolation matches, while senior Malik Heinselman didn’t compete in a consolation match due to injury.

Ohio State has finished among the top-three in nine of the last 10 Cliff Keen Invitationals.

The Buckeyes will return to Columbus and host No. 22 Pittsburgh for a dual competition Dec. 12.

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