The No.-10 Virginia Tech wrestling team returned to Blacksburg from the 40th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational this weekend with five place-winners in tow. The Hokies sent seven wrestlers to Vegas, and five found the podium to help lead Tech to an 11th-place team finish on Saturday evening.
Leading the way was No.-2 Mekhi Lewis with a runner-up finish. In his second CKLV finals appearance in as many entries, Lewis became the first two-time finalist in program history. In a highly entertaining finals match, Lewis dropped a tight loss to No. 3 Mikey Labriola of Nebraska 3-1. Lewis was tactical all weekend, picking up two bonus point victories and dispatching three ranked opponents.
The second highest-placing Hokie was graduate senior Hunter Bolen with a third-place finish. The Christiansburg Cowboy went 6-1 over the two-day tournament to claim third in his last Cliff Keen Invitational. Bolen dropped his quarterfinal bout to No.-4 Kaleb Romero of Ohio State before winning two straight on the backside to set up a third meeting with Romero this season. He avenged his earlier loss with a 3-1 sudden victory. Bolen secured three bonus point victories in six wins to help match his third-place CKLV finish of three years ago.
Making their Cliff Keen Invitational debuts and finding the podium were No. 9 Sam Latona, No. 13 Tom Crook, and No. 32 Andy Smith. Latona highlighted his weekend with an upset victory over returning All-American No. 7 Chris Cannon of Northwestern to push him into the semifinals. Crook picked up three ranked wins on the night in his first trip out west. Smith put the nation on notice with his victory over No. 11 Tanner Sloan of South Dakota State to propel him into the semifinals match.
The Hokies return to action next Sunday for the first home dual of the season as they host No. 6 Mizzou at 4:30 p.m.