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Jon Jon Millner
Jon Jon Millner won by pinfall for the Mountaineers in the 149 pound class.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Wrestling Fares Well in Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

Jon Jon Millner’s fourth-place finish at 149 pounds led App State Wrestling at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Taking a 13-0 season record into Saturday’s semifinal round, Millner lost a 4-1 decision against fourth-ranked Kyle Parco in the semifinal round before winning a 4-0 decision No. 24 Alec Hagan of Ohio. He lost a 2-1 decision against seventh-ranked Yahya Thomas of Northwestern in the third-place match.

All seven App State Wrestling entries had a hand raised Friday, and three Mountaineers advanced to the final day of competition at the high-profile tournament.

Joining Millner in advancing to Day 2 thanks to 3-1 showings Friday, Will Formato finished seventh at 165 pounds, and Tommy Askey placed eighth at 157 pounds.

Parco used an early takedown to lead 2-0 in the 149 semifinal, and Millner trailed 2-1 late in the first period when he executed a potential takedown near the edge of the mat. After a lengthy review, no takedown was awarded, and Parco took control by riding out the second period. Millner then recorded a first-period takedown in his shutout of Hagan.

Formato lost 12-3 to 16th-ranked Matthew Olguin from Oregon State in a consolation semifinal to drop into the seventh-place match against sixth-ranked Carson Kharchla from Ohio State, who didn’t compete due to a medical forfeit.

Askey lost 9-2 to 24th-ranked Trevor Chumbley from Northwestern in a consolation semifinal before Columbia’s Cesar Alvan won the seventh-place match by fall.

Millner’s unbeaten Friday included a 7-1 decision against Nebraska’s Dayne Morton, a 10-3 decision against Columbia’s Danny Fongaro and a 6-0 shutout of NC State’s Jackson Arrington, who has climbed to No. 18 in the national rankings since losing to Millner by the same score in his dual debut for the Wolfpack on Nov. 4.

In their rematch a month later, Millner needed only two seconds to get in on a shot that turned into a quick takedown. By the end of the first period, he had a 2-0 lead and 2:38 in riding time.

Askey earned a quarterfinal berth with a pair of close victories, as he won a 3-2 decision against Long Island’s Rhise Royster and quickly secured an overtime takedown of Cal Poly’s Luka Wick to secure a 3-1 (SV1) decision. After hanging tough in an 8-2 loss to second-ranked Will Lewan from Michigan, Askey won 3-1 against 19th-ranked Derek Holschlag, a returning NCAA qualifier from Northern Iowa, with help from a takedown in the final seconds of the second period.

Formato opened the tournament with convincing wins against Edinboro’s Alex Garee (6-0) and 29th-ranked Legend Lamer from Cal Poly (6-1) before dropping a 6-2 decision to 10th-ranked Julian Ramirez of Cornell. One sequence in the final minute of the second period turned a scoreless matchup into a six-point lead for Ramirez, but Formato bounced back by claiming a 5-2 win against NC State’s Donald Cates.

Formato, who edged Cates in overtime during the Nov. 4 dual, gained separation Friday on a takedown with 24 seconds left. He rode out the second period and finished with 2:19 in riding time.

Caleb Smith (125) joined Millner, Askey and Formato as a quarterfinalist before finishing 2-2, and Sean Carter (133) posted a 3-2 record in Las Vegas with a pair of one-point losses to top-25 opponents.

Mason Fiscella went 2-2 with losses to two top-10 opponents in the heavyweight division, and Will Miller (174) earned a 10-5 victory against Cal Poly’s Jarad Priest following an opening-round loss in which he delivered an early takedown against third-ranked Mikey Labriola from Nebraska.

Fiscella advanced to the Round of 16 thanks to an overtime takedown in a 3-1 (SV1) win against Max Millin of Edinboro. Fiscella also won 5-3 against Utah Valley’s Chase Trussell between losses to No. 6 ­Lucas Davison from Northwestern and No. 7 Tate Orndorff from Ohio State (7-1 decision).

Smith followed a 7-4 win to open the event with a 12-2 major decision against 27th-ranked Liam Cronin from Nebraska, but he suffered an 8-6 (SV1) loss to South Dakota State’s Tanner Jordan in the quarterfinal round. Facing a 5-2 deficit in the final 20 seconds of the third period, Smith executed a reversal with 17 seconds left and then got a takedown of Jordan after cutting him loose to force overtime at 6-all, but Jordan prevailed in the first OT period. Smith then dropped a 14-9 decision to 10th-ranked Malik Heinselman from Ohio State.

Carter won 10-4 against Purdue’s Dustin Morris before dropping a 3-2 (TBA) decision to 18th-ranked Cody Phippen from Air Force. Each wrestler got an escape in the 30-second Tiebreaker 1 periods, but Phippen came up with his quickly enough to maintain an all-important riding time advantage that serves as a tiebreaker, and he received a point on a stalling penalty against Carter.

Carter then won 7-3 against Ohio State’s Dylan Koontz and 3-2 against Cal Baptist’s Hunter Leake, but a 3-2 loss to 23rd-ranked Chance Rich from Cal State Bakersfield wrapped up his tournament.