Following tournaments at Binghamton University and the United States Naval Academy, the wrestling team headed west to Las Vegas this weekend to take on several of the nation’s best teams at the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. The Brown wrestlers struggled to build momentum throughout the tournament and finished 35th out of 43 teams. Positives for Bruno included a top-20 upset by Trey Keeley ’20 (125 lbs) and a solid performance from Colin Realbuto ’22 (141 lbs).
The Brown wrestlers recorded a combined 6-18 record on the weekend, with Keeley, Realbuto, Zachary Krause ’20 (149 lbs), Christian LaBrie ’19 (157 lbs) and Jonathan Viruet ’19 (165 lbs) all picking up wins. “It was a true test to see where we are at and what we need to work on,” said Head Coach Todd Beckerman.
Keeley began with a match against Drew Hildebrandt of Central Michigan University. Trailing 1-0 entering the third period, Keeley had a chance to earn the tying escape, but Hildebrandt earned the rideout to hold on for the win. Still, Keeley advanced in the consolation bracket thanks to a medical forfeit, setting up a showdown with Cole Verner from the Univesity of Wyoming, who was seeded 11th in the tournament and ranked 20th in the country by FloWrestling.
Keeley kicked off the match against Verner with a bang, using a slick inside trip to pick up a takedown and two nearfall points. After a Verner escape, Keeley used a single-leg takedown to jump out to a 6-1 lead. Verner clawed back and cut the lead to 6-5, but failed to execute on a risky throw, extending Keeley’s advantage and setting him up for the 15-9 win. Keeley was eliminated from the tournament by Tyshawn White in his next match, but he relished his win over Verner, his first against a ranked opponent. “My coaches have instilled confidence in me that I can hang with these guys. There’s no reason that I should lose to a guy just because he’s ranked. … I’m right there with the best of them,” Keeley said.
Realbuto faced third-seeded Michael Carr of the University of Illinois in his first match, putting up a valiant effort in an 8-3 loss. But Realbuto rebounded in his next match against rival Trevor Tarsi of Harvard, using a strong ride in the second period and a late takedown in the third to seal the win. Though Realbuto lost to ninth-seeded Nate Limmex of Purdue University in his next match, Beckerman was impressed with his performance. “Realbuto looked good as a freshman coming out here for the first time,” Beckerman said.
Krause got off to a hot start, as he dominated Ethan Wendell of Highline College in a 15-0 technical fall. Krause then gave third-seeded Grant Leeth of the University of Missouri a close match, falling by a score of 9-5. But during a consolation bout, Krause suffered an injury and was forced to forfeit the match, ending his tournament. LaBrie also put up a 1-2 record on the weekend, defeating Kizhan Clarke of American University.
Viruet, who entered the tournament seeded 10th and ranked 19th in the country, controlled Tanner Skidgel of Navy in his first match, racking up eight nearfall points off of tilts en route to a 14-0 victory. This set up a match with seventh-seeded defending Junior World Champion Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech. Viruet could not break through the defense of the positionally-sound Lewis and fell 6-4. In the consolation, Joshua McClure of the University of North Carolina used multiple low doubles to upset Viruet and end his tournament run. “I personally would say that I perhaps underperformed, but I’m not going to make excuses. There’s a lot of things we need to learn as a team,” Viruet said.
Hunter Kosco ’21 (133 lbs), Bryce Rogers ’21 (174 lbs), CJ LaFragola ’19 (184 lbs) and Ian Butterbrodt ’19 (285 lbs) each went 0-2 in the double-elimination tournament.
The Bears will face another stiff test in their next competition, the Midlands Championships held at Northwestern University Dec. 29 and 30. “This is a perfect time, during reading period and exams, to work on the technique that they need to work on,” Beckerman said.