Air Force Heads to CKLV Invite, FHSU-Bob Smith Open
Sophomore Carter McElhany

Nov. 29, 2012

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The Air Force wrestling team returns to action this weekend, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, as it sends a group of athletes to the 31st-annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Meanwhile, another group of Falcons will compete at the FHSU-Bob Smith Open in Hays, Kan., on Dec. 1.

The Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, now in its 31st season, is being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Teams from 32 schools are scheduled to participate in this year's competition, including nine teams that are ranked in this week's USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches' Poll. This year's field also includes all six teams from the Western Wrestling Conference (Air Force, Northern Colorado, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Utah Valley and Wyoming).

Action begins Friday at 9:00 a.m. (PT), while quarterfinals and consolation rounds 2 & 3 are scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m. Meanwhile, Saturday's action begins at 9:00 a.m., with the championship finals scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. For complete information on the tournament, visit

Seven Falcons competed as Air Force placed 20th as a team at the 2011 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Junior Cole VonOhlen led the way for the Falcons, recording a 4-1 ledger on the weekend to finish as the runner-up at 149 pounds. With his performance, VonOhlen became the first Air Force wrestler to reach the finals at the event since 2002.

Sophomore Josh Kreimier (157) advanced to the second day of competition for the Falcons, posting a 2-2 record, while all other Air Force wrestlers registered 1-2 marks in the tournament.

The annual FHSU-Bob Smith Open will be held at Gross Memorial Coliseum. The top four wrestlers in each of 10 weight classes will be awarded during the day's competition. Action is slated to begin at 9:00 a.m. (CT) Saturday. Live updates for the event will be available at

Freshman Carter McElhany was the lone placewinner for Air Force at the 2011 FHSU-Bob Smith Open, placing fourth at 141 pounds. McElhany posted a 4-2 record on the weekend to lead the way for the Falcons.

Air Force finished with 14 placewinners at the UNK Holiday Inn Open on Nov. 17, led by individual titles from senior Cole VonOhlen (149) and freshman Konner Witt (184). Two other Falcons placed second in their respective weight classes, with senior Jared Erickson finishing as the heavyweight runner-up, while freshman Tyler Mergen placed second at 165 pounds in the Amateur Division.

Other top-three finishers for Air Force included freshman Josh Martinez (125), senior Gabe Martinez (157) and junior Devin Hightower (184), who each placed third in their respective weight classes in the Elite Division. Also in the Elite Division, Carter McElhany (141), Jesse Stafford (165) and Bentley Alsup (HWT) each placed fourth, Josh Mohr (197) finished fifth and Greg Rinker (133) took sixth place. Meanwhile, freshmen Willie Baker (165) and Marcus Malecek (HWT) placed fourth in the Amateur Division in their respective weight classes.

Air Force is led by nationally ranked senior captain Cole VonOhlen (149), who has recorded a perfect 9-0 mark after two weekends of competition, while freshman Konner Witt (184) is also undefeated at 8-0. In addition, newcomer Tyler Mergen (165) has a team-best 14 wins on the year.

Meanwhile, 24 different Falcons have registered falls, led by VonOhlen with four falls each. Sophomore Bentley Alsup has the fastest fall of the early season, recording a fall in a time of 0:28.

Air Force currently has three wrestlers ranked by various wrestling publications. Senior captain Cole VonOhlen, a returning three-time NCAA qualifier, is rated 10th in the nation at 149 pounds by Intermat, while he is ranked eighth by Amateur Wrestling News, ninth by W.I.N. Magazine and 10th by and DI College Wrestling.

Meanwhile, junior Josh Kreimier, a 2012 NCAA qualifier who has not yet competed this season, is currently ranked 13th at 157 pounds by Intermat. He is also rated 15th by DI College Wrestling and 24th by In addition, freshman Josh Martinez is rated 28th at 125 pounds by

With his two falls at the UNK Holiday Inn Open, senior captain Cole VonOhlen moved to 42 falls for his career, tying 2007 graduate Matt Crippes for the Falcons' all-time record.

Senior captain Cole VonOhlen was named the Western Wrestling Conference Wrestler of the Week on Nov. 20, earning his first weekly honor of the season and the eighth of his career.

VonOhlen won his second-straight individual title to begin the season, posting a 4-0 record at the UNK Holiday Inn Open. He earned the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler award, opening the day with a fall in 56 seconds, while scoring a technical fall and a decision in his next two bouts. He then captured the title by pinning Augustana's Nate Herda in a time of 2:56. With his two falls in the tournament, VonOhlen moved to 42 falls for his career, matching the Academy's school record for career pins.

Air Force opens its 2012-13 dual slate next weekend, Dec. 7, at the "Battle for the Planes" being held at Jackson County Central High School in Jackson, Minn. The Falcons will compete in three duals, facing Dakota Wesleyan, Northwestern College (Iowa) and Augustana (S.D.).



Oct 16 Athlete of the Week_Denise Ssozi
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