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UVU wrestling: Fager places fourth at Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Dec. 7 2013 10:57 p.m. MST

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Utah Valley University junior Adam Fager ended his 2013 Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational run Saturday by placing fourth in the heavyweight division at the renowned tournament. The placement is the highest-ever finish by a Wolverine at the CKLV Invite.

"Adam wrestled great this weekend," UVU assistant coach Justin Ruiz said. "He wrestled tough throughout every situation and stayed in good positions as well. He was really focused in all of his matches and I was very pleased with his performance. He's made a jump to another level and we're going to do everything we can to help him be ready to place at Nationals at the end of the season."

Fager, who went a perfect 3-0 on Friday with upset wins over the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, became the second-ever Wolverine to reach the semifinal round as he began Saturday in the semis against the eight seed and 19th-ranked Adam Coon of Michigan. Coon got the best of Fager in the contest, however, as the UVU junior fell by major decision (12-3). Fager then bounced right back in his next bout, the consolation semis, by defeating a familiar foe by decision (5-3) in the No. 5 seed and 14th-ranked Ross Larson of Oklahoma. The win marked Fager's second upset over the ranked Larson in the tournament as the Wolverine heavyweight previously defeated Larson, 13-8, on Friday.

With the win over Larson in the consolation semis, Fager became the first-ever Utah Valley wrestler to advance to the third-place match at the CKLV Invitational. In the third-place bout, the Layton, Utah, native met up against the top seed and third-ranked Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State. Fager gave the All-American Gwiazdowski all he could handle, but in the end one point was the difference as Gwiazdowski topped the UVU junior, 4-3. With the defeat, Fager finished placing fourth at the renowned tournament as he went 4-2 with three upset wins over ranked opponents.

The fourth-place finish by Fager is not only the highest-ever finish by a Wolverine at the prestigious CKLV Invite but also marks the sixth consecutive season that at least one UVU grappler has placed at the tournament.

"Adam had a great first day as well with wins over two ranked guys," Ruiz said. "Overall, he wrestled a solid tournament."

After going 3-1 on Friday, sophomore 197-pounder Derek Thomas was also in action for the Wolverines on Saturday but ended his 2013 CKLV Invite run just one win shy of placing. Thomas took on the six seed and 17th-ranked Braden Atwood of Purdue in the Round of 12 on Saturday morning, and Atwood got the best of the UVU sophomore as he defeated Thomas by major decision (16-3).

Thomas ended his tournament run with a 3-2 record with two overtime victories, including an upset win over the nine seed from Northern Iowa Basil Minto.

Seven other Wolverines took part in 2013 CKLV Invitational, but all had their tournament runs cut short Friday.

In the team score race, UVU tied for 24th with 21 points. No. 4 Oklahoma took the tournament with 154.5 points, while No. 10 Nebraska finished second with 130.5 points.

Utah Valley will now be off until the end of the month when it will head to Evanston, Ill., for another top-notch tournament, the Midlands Championships. The 51st Midlands Championships will run Dec. 29-30 at Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Utah Valley's Saturday results at the CKLV Invitational

197: No. 6 Braden Atwood (Purdue) MD Derek Thomas (UVU), 16-3

285: No. 8 Adam Coon (Michigan) MD No. 12 Adam Fager (UVU), 12-3

285: No. 12 Adam Fager (UVU) Dec. No. 5 Ross Larson (Oklahoma), 5-3

285: No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State), Dec. No. 12 Adam Fager (UVU), 4-3

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.

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