Dec. 6, 2013
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - With four competitors still in action in the consolation bracket, the Air Force wrestling team sits in 20th place in the team standings after one day of action at the 32nd-annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
Moving on to day two of competition for the Falcons are Josh Martinez (So., Colorado Springs, Colo.), Natrelle Demison (Fr., Bakersfield, Calif.), Jesse Stafford (Jr., Loomis, Calif.) and Devin Hightower (Sr., Colorado Springs, Colo.). All four will compete in the fourth round of consolations, slated to begin at 9:00 a.m. (PT) Saturday.
Martinez, seeded fifth and ranked eighth in the nation at 125 pounds, opened the tournament with a 14-0 major decision over CSU-Pueblo's Eric Hughes before dropping a tough 5-3 decision to Iowa State's 12th-seeded Earl Hall in the second round. Martinez bounced back with two more major decisions in the consolation bracket and will face 10th-seeded Jamie Franco of Hofstra in the next round.
At 149 pounds, Demison had a narrow 4-3 loss to returning All-American Scott Sakaguchi of Oregon State, seeded fourth in the tournament. However, he earned a pair of decisions in the consolation brackets to move on to Saturday's competition versus Blake Kastl of Cal Poly.
Stafford, seeded 10th at 165 pounds, won his first match of the tournament, picking up a 9-4 decision over Harvard's Devon Gobbo, but fell to seventh-seed Austin Wilson of Nebraska in the second round. He rebounded with two more wins in the wrestlebacks, defeating eighth-seed Alex Elder of Oregon State and posting a major decision over Army's Coleman Gracey. Next up, Stafford will face fourth-seeded Joseph Booth of Hofstra.
Meanwhile, Hightower, wrestling at 184 pounds, also moved on to Saturday's competition, posting a 3-1 record on Friday. He recorded his first fall of the season in the opening round, pinning North Idaho's Matt Hopkins in just 45 seconds, but dropped a decision to fourth-seed Gabriel Dean of Cornell in the second round. Hightower came back with two more wins in the consolation bracket and will face Ohio State's Kenny Courts, seeded second.
Also competing for Air Force on Friday were Greg Rinker (Sr., Northampton, Pa.) at 133 pounds, David Walker (Fr., St. Marys, Iowa) at 141 pounds, Konner Witt (So., Oak Harbor, Ohio), Greg Isley (Sr., Toledo, Ohio) at 197 pounds and Marcus Malecek (So., Hammond, Wis.) at 285 pounds. Rinker posted a 2-2 record, while Isley and Malecek each recorded a win.