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The ASU wrestling team competed Friday and Saturday in the 27th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in downtown Las Vegas, finishing 18th overall in a field of 44.

“Growth-wise, I’ll give it an ‘A’,” ASU coach Thom Ortiz said. “Our performance? We can do better. These kids are talented.

“After the tournament they realized they were better than they think they are. It’s a matter of confidence.”

Three ASU wrestlers made it to the final day, with two finishing in the top five individually.

No. 7 sophomore Anthony Robles (125-pound weight class), was the tournament’s No. 2 seed but finished third.

After pinning his first two opponents in a combined 1 minute, 42 seconds, Robles defeated Cornell’s Frank Perrelli in the quarterfinals to advance to a Saturday showdown against No. 14 Zach Sanders of Minnesota. However it was Sanders who held the upper hand, defeating Robles in a 7-3 decision.

Robles responded, winning his next two matches by technical fall to snag third place. Robles beat No. 18 Brandon Zoetewey (Cal State Bakersfield) and No. 11 Jarrod Garnett (Virginia Tech) 18-0 and 18-1, respectively.

“He did a great job, placing third,” Ortiz said. “He came back strong. Once he believes in himself, and wrestles for himself, he can beat anyone in the nation. This was a great performance.”

Robles’ fellow captain, No. 4, sophomore Chris Drouin (141), finished fifth despite entering the meet as the fourth seed.

Drouin defeated his first two opponents, Jeff Newby of Utah Valley University (7-3) and Chris Diaz of Virginia Tech (4-0) by decision to earn his spot in the quarterfinals. Once there, he defeated Seth Ciasulli of Lehigh to remain in the first-place bracket, advancing to the second day.

Drouin mirrored Robles and lost his semifinal match Saturday, losing to Harvard’s Corey Jantzen by fall. Drouin then lost a decision to Chris Diaz by a score of 4-5.

In the fifth-place bout, Drouin defeated No. 10 Mike Thorn of Minnesota 6-2.

Neither Drouin nor Robles placed in last year’s tournament.

Freshman Vicente Varela (149) advanced to the second day of competition after going 3-1 on his first day. He was unable to make it to the final rankings however, falling to No. 11 Matt Kyler (Army) in a 6-0 decision to end his tournament.

Three other ASU wrestlers won at least two bouts during the tournament’s first day.

Freshman Kyle DeBerry (165) won three matches, defeating Joey Granata (CSB) in a 12-6 decision, Zach Sevar (San Francisco State) by fall at 6:33 and Thad Zempel (Western Wyoming) by fall at 0:38. DeBerry went 3-2 for the day and was eliminated.

Freshman Eric Starks (174) started out strong with two early decisions against Anthony Trongone (Virginia Tech) and Jacob Burge (North Carolina State) but lost two of his next three to get eliminated on the first day.

Freshman Jake Meredith (174) went 2-2, defeating Kenny Moenkediak (North Dakota State) 6-3 and Eric Bugenhagen (Wisconsin) 5-2 before losing a decision to Eric Cameron (Indiana) 5-2 to get eliminated.

“The four freshmen did really well,” Ortiz said. “The youth is really coming around.”

Sophomore Orlando Jimenez (133), sophomore Jerrad Trulson (157), junior Thor Moen (197) and freshman Anthony Morales (285) all went 0-2 to get eliminated after the first day.

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