SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Twelve of the nation's top 25 NCAA Division I wrestling teams will compete in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational this weekend inside the Las Vegas Convention Center.
It will be the season-opening event for the starters on Coach Jon Sioredas' Cal Poly team.
"We are excited to see our starting 10 open up the season this weekend," said the second-year Mustang mentor. "The Cliff Keen will give our guys ample opportunity to wrestle against nationally ranked competition."
Heading the starting lineup for the Mustangs this winter is 141-pounder Colton Schilling, an NCAA qualifier after a third-place Pac-12 finish. A fifth-year senior, Schilling posted a 13-11 record a year ago and enters his final season as a Mustang with a 59-39 career mark.
Schilling is among nine wrestlers who competed in more than half of Cal Poly's dual meets a year ago and 13 lettermen in all.
"We are excited to see where we stand after a hard offseason of training," said Sioredas. "This year's team has a chip on its shoulder and something to prove and we love that mentality."
Other top returnees for the Mustangs include 285-pounder Spencer Empey (17-16 a year ago, including an 8-8 mark in duals), 197-pounder Tom Lane (14-14 last season) and 184-pounder Sohrab Movahedi (14-5 overall, 4-1 in duals a year ago).
Movahedi will not compete in the Las Vegas event this weekend, replaced by sophomore Ryan Anderson.
"Every weight class has shown improvement over the course of the last eight months," said Sioredas. "We are leaning on our senior leadership to help continue the process of improvement."
A year ago, Cal Poly 157-pounder Colt Shorts placed seventh, the first Mustang to place in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational since 2013 when Blake Kastl placed eighth at 149 pounds. Devon Lotito finished third at 133 pounds in 2012. Ryan DesRoches claimed the 174-pound title in 2011 while 141-pounder Boris Novachkov and 285-pounder Atticus Disney both placed fifth.
Heading the list of 44 teams in the field are No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 6 Arizona State.
The roster of teams also includes No. 12 Minnesota, No. 15 Northern Iowa, No. 18 Central Michigan, No. 19 Wyoming, No. 20 Oregon State, No. 21 Pittsburgh, No. 22 Edinboro, No. 23 Duke and No. 24 Navy.
First matches both Friday and Saturday begin at 9 a.m. in Hall N4 on Paradise Road. Quarterfinals are set for 6 p.m. Friday, with the semifinals Saturday at 10 a.m. and the championship and consolation finals Saturday at 3 p.m.
All-session pass is $40 while each of the four single-session tickets are $15 for the preliminary rounds and $20 for the championship finals. Tickets can be purchased at the Convention Center on the day of the event only and cash only.