No. 1 Minnesota will hit the mat in Las Vegas for the next two days to take on elite field of teams and individuals

This Friday and Saturday, No. 1 Minnesota will be in Las Vegas, Nev., to compete in the 33rd Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas College Wrestling Invitational at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The event features a star-studded field that is among the best of any tournament, save the NCAA Championships.

The Gophers will be one of 39 teams represented in this weekend’s competition, 11 of which are ranked in the top 25 by InterMat. The Big Ten will be well-represented in the tournament, with five of Minnesota’s conference foes – defending event champion Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan, Rutgers and Indiana – joining the Maroon and Gold in Vegas. Another familiar face for Minnesota’s will be Air Force, which Minnesota defeated 28-15 in its season-opening dual. Of the top 15 teams from last year’s Invitational, 12 will return to test themselves this season.

Looking at individuals in the field, there will be nearly 100 nationally ranked wrestlers in action. Among that group, eight are Gophers: No. 19 Sam Brancale (125), No. 2 Chris Dardanes (133), No. 4 Nick Dardanes (141), No. 1 Dylan Ness (157), No. 15 Nick Wanzek (165), No. 1 Logan Storley (174), No. 15 Brett Pfarr (184) and No. 1 Scott Schiller (197). In all, 15 Gophers will compete in the tournament.

Minnesota last appeared in the event six years ago, when it placed third in the 2008 Cliff Keen Invitational. En route to the team’s 2002 National Championship, Minnesota picked up the team title in Las Vegas, outpacing Big Ten foes Illinois (second) and Ohio State (third).

Following weigh-ins on Friday morning, the tournament will get underway at 11 a.m. CT and stretch into Friday evening. The tournament will resume Saturday morning at 11 a.m. CT, with championship finals beginning at 5 p.m. CT. A full schedule and additional tournament information is available at CKLVWrestle.com.

Gopher fans can follow the action by watching the live stream offered by Flowrestling.com (stream requires a FloPRO subscription), track matches live onTrackWrestling.com or follow Gopher Wrestling on Twitter for regular updates throughout both days of the tournament. Daily recaps will be available at GopherSports.com.

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